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Becoming Parents

 A Joyous Experience 

Often parents remember the birth of their baby as one of the greatest and most joyous experiences of their lives. It is the end of nine months of preparation, anticipation and waiting. 

The thought of being a parent can be exciting and, at times, frightening. It takes time to adjust to the responsibilities of a new baby, so don’t expect too much of yourself. Parenting is a learning process and requires time and experience.

You may not automatically feel love for your baby, but as you hold your baby close, touch his tiny fingers and watch him adjust to life, your affection for him will begin to develop and will last forever. The more time you spend with your baby, and the more you do with your baby, the more comfortable and secure you will feel in caring for him. As you do this, your confidence as a parent will grow.

Dad and Baby

Dad and BabyAs a father, you are a very important person in your child’s life. Now is the best time to begin building a lifelong relationship with your child. It is important for you to hold, feed and get to know your baby as soon after birth as possible.

Your love and attention are a natural and needed part of your baby’s life. Make a decision to set aside a
“special time” for you and your baby each day. Look your baby in the eye and talk to him. He will soon learn to recognize your voice. You may feel unsure or clumsy at first, but remember that touching, talking and giving love are the most important things you can do for your baby.

Babies require a large amount of their parents’ time. Sometimes you may feel that your entire life revolves around your baby, but it is important that you do not allow him to completely take over your personal life. You may not have as much time as you would like, but try to continue doing some of the things you enjoy. 

The baby will take up a large amount of mom’s time. She may be busier than before the baby was born, but keep in mind that she needs your love and reassuring support. Mom may have discomfort and be tired, so try to help with baby’s care such as changing diapers, feeding, holding, and rocking. Or, you may choose to help with the housework.

You and Mom need a special time, too. Even though you may not be able to go out together often, you should make plans for a night out occasionally. Make plans with a good baby-sitter and take time for outings - Mom and Dad together, without the baby. Your baby needs parents who make time for themselves and have a loving relationship with each other.

Big Brother and Big Sister

It is possible that a big brother or sister may have difficulty adjusting to a new baby. The older child Big Sister may not understand the need for the care and attention given to a new baby. He or she may feel jealous or “left out.” Before the new baby’s arrival, Mom and Dad’s love was only for the older child. With the birth of the new baby, the big brother or sister may find love hard to share. Your older child needs love, special attention and patient understanding at this time in order to have feelings of importance, security and belonging.

You can help make being a big brother or sister easier by encouraging your child to help with baby’s care. Even a toddler can run errands. This makes your child feel secure, that he or she is important and is a member of the family.

Changes in behavior of an older child may occur after the arrival of a new baby. A potty-trained child may wet the bed again; a weaned child may want a bottle or may want to breastfeed again. Accept your child’s changed behavior with a positive attitude and understand that this behavior will not last.

Explain to the older child that a new baby needs a lot of time, care and attention, just like he did when he was born. Encourage your child to tell you his or her feelings about the baby. Some children are best able to express their feelings by coloring or painting pictures.

In their need to be helpful and involved, toddlers may try to do more than they are able. For example, they may try to bring the baby to mother. So, keep an eye on toddlers when they are around the baby. School-age children usually accept a new baby more easily since their worlds have already progressed to activities and relationships outside the family. Be careful not to impose on this maturity by turning older children into automatic baby-sitters. Don’t assign the school-age child responsibilities with the baby that are beyond their capabilities.

Visitors

Many people will be anxious to visit you after the birth of your baby. This is usually a very exciting time, but also a very tiring time for you.

Since you will not be in the hospital for very long, you will need to get as much rest as possible. Adequate rest, along with food and liquids, are very important to your rapid recovery. It is difficult to get this much-needed rest if you have a constant flow of visitors. You may want to limit the number of visitors that you have while you are in the hospital. If you do, please inform your nurse so
she can screen your visitors. You might suggest those other than your immediate family visit you once
you are at home.

Mom should spend special time with the older child. This is usually most possible when baby is napping. Dad should also give attention to the older child by setting aside special time as often as possible. Remind grandparents and friends to include the older child
when giving attention to the new baby.

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