My baby girl is just a week old and I’m already feeling overwhelmed. I’m the sort of person who likes to research things so I’ve been reading books and websites, trying to get the information I need to do the right thing for my daughter. The problem is, everyone seems to contradict each other. One website claims that any crying will cause a rise in cortisol and result in brain damage, or at least damage our relationship. Another says that a little fussing is fine and if I don’t allow it I’ll have a baby who never plays independently and can’t sleep in her own bed. I know that everyone has a different approach and different goals but I can’t get past the constant suggestions that I could do long term damage. I’m terrified that I’ll make a parenting choice that turns out to scar my precious baby for life.
Life with a new baby can feel very overwhelming and I’m so glad you reached out to me. Don’t forget that you are still only a week into this. You’ll be exhausted, all sorts of hormones doing their thing, maybe in pain following the birth and just getting to know this new little person who’s come into your life.
Give yourself some time.
The thing about parenting is that there truly is no one right way to do it. What works for one family doesn’t suit another and what works for your first baby might be a disaster for your second. It can make things very confusing when you just want to know what to do and everyone has a different opinion! The beauty of it is that you can do whatever works best for your family, find your own path, and that’s absolutely fine.
Babies are very resilient little things really, you obviously love your daughter and so long as you show her that love and meet her basic needs (things like food and warmth) she’ll be fine. With the exception of medical procedures, parenting choices can be reversed. If you do something and it has an unintended consequence then it can be fixed. It’s not permanent. This is especially important to remember since all babies are different anyway, you could treat two babies in exactly the same way and one might react differently to the other. It doesn’t mean you’ve failed or caused damage, it just means you have a challenge to work on.
For now I would try not to worry too much.
Relax and enjoy spending time with your daughter. Get to know her, establish breastfeeding (if that’s what you’ve chosen), learn about her personality and her natural rhythms. Show her all your love and soak in those newborn days.
You’ll find the approach that works best for your family, and if you do find yourself faced with a challenge then remember there are many professionals, like me, a skilled newborn care specialist, ready and waiting to give you help and support if you need it.