Thriving or just surviving? Parenting a newborn baby

Thriving or just surviving? Parenting a newborn baby

Written by COPE, Centre of Perinatal Excellence

GymbaROO-KindyROO has been partnering with the Centre of Perinatal Excellence (COPE) for several years and many of our teaching team have completed the COPE training for people working with families in the community.
In this article, the COPE team directly addresses the feelings that many parents of a new baby may experience in the first year.

While welcoming a new baby can be a time of joy, happiness and an experience of a love like no other, the transition to parenthood can also come with unexpected challenges – no matter how prepared we think we are.

Is this ‘normal’?

If you’re struggling with sleep deprivation, breastfeeding difficulties, changes to your body, or the isolation of life at home with a newborn, then you’re not alone.

Remember that up to 80 per cent of mothers will also experience what’s known as the ‘baby blues’. Occurring between day three and day five after having a baby, new mums describe feeling emotionally overwhelmed and teary. With rest, care and understanding the baby blues tend to pass within a few days.

But what happens if the feelings linger?

Postnatal depression

One in seven women will experience postnatal depression after the birth of their baby. This means that even if you don’t experience PND yourself, it’s likely that someone in your mother’s group or GymbaROO-KindyROO class might be suffering – and perhaps doing so in silence.

It’s important to be aware of the signs and symptoms so that you, or someone you might be concerned about, can get help quickly.

Symptoms of PND can include:

● Feeling low or numb – some people describe feeling ‘nothing at all’
● Lack of interest and/or pleasure in life, yourself and/or the baby
● No energy – finding it difficult to cope and get through the day (may also be attributed to lack of sleep)
● Loss of confidence, feeling helpless, hopeless and worthless
● Often feeling close to tears, highly sensitive to other’s comments or emotional
● Feeling angry, irritable or resentful towards other mothers, the baby or your partner
● Changes in sleep – not being able to sleep even when you have the opportunity, or conversely, wanting to sleep all the time
● Changes in appetite – accompanied by weight loss or weight gain
● Difficulties concentrating, thinking clearly or making decisions (which could also result from lack of sleep)
● Feeling isolated, alone and disconnected from others
● Having thoughts of harming yourself, baby and/or other children

If you are experiencing a number of these symptoms for longer than two weeks, it’s important to speak to your GP or trusted health professional. If you’re having thoughts that your partner or baby would be better off without you, please seek professional help immediately.

There are safe and effective treatments for PND, and the sooner you seek help, the faster you will recover.

Did you know?

Fathers and partners can also experience PND. Learn more on the COPE website:

Ready to COPE

We often hear from mums who say that, through the fog of sleep deprivation, it can be hard to work out what’s ‘normal” and when it’s time to seek help.

That’s one of the reasons why COPE developed the Ready to COPE app, which provides timely information and advice each week about the emotional and mental challenges you may experience, and when you might need to speak to someone about how you’re feeling.

The app allows self-check-ins for stress, anxiety and depression and helps connect you to community support services, like GymbaROO-KindyROO, or mental health professionals with expertise in treating perinatal mental illness.

You can also encourage your partner to download the app and take the opportunity to talk through some of the common concerns we often hear about from couples navigating parenthood.


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While the transition to parenthood has ups and downs, if you’re finding the bad days and moments seem to be outnumbering the good ones, you don’t need to suffer in silence.

You’re not alone.