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How to Cope With the Stress of Being a New Parent

Updated on January 2, 2013
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Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body. ~ Elizabeth Stone

"Listen to the mustn'ts, child. Listen to the don'ts. Listen to the shouldn'ts, the impossibles, the won'ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me ... Anything can happen, child. Anything can be."
-- Shel Silverstein

New 2011 SIDS Facts


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New Parent Concerns

After the celebrating the joy of your pregnancy, you will begin to plan for your baby's arrival. As you seek out advice and council you may discover there is a lot more to having a baby than you thought.

Top concerns with new parents are:

  • Food/nutrition
  • Work Schedules
  • Child care
  • SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome)
  • Childhood Illness
  • Finding a Pediatrician
  • Finance

Quiz Source: Medicalnewstoday.com: New Infant Sleep Guidelines To Prevent SIDS, 5/2011

A Short Video on Baby's Development

Coping With Stress

All of the above concerns are valid and common among many new parents. Parents often wonder how they are going to be able to manage a new baby and prevent the stress that comes from having to adjust their lifestyle.

Work schedules and child care are areas that really weigh on the mind of those who have to return to work after a maternity leave. While a parent is at home with the child, the bonding is strengthened and it is difficult to think about having to separate from your precious little one.

As a former child care director, I walked many new parents through the process of leaving their little bundle of joy at a center. I always appreciated those parents who came with a list of questions and toured the building a couple of times (even four) before they decided to enroll their baby. I advise parents to talk with their sitters, nannies, or child care center, before the baby arrives to become acquainted with the environment and the caretaker. Some centers have monthly parent chats or coffee groups that meet to discuss concerns and to share parenting tips. This is a great time to ask those questions that concern you.

Although most babies are healthy from the start, they will encounter a cold or illness at some point. It is normal for infants to have three respiratory illnesses and two diarrhea infections during this stage of life. Parents should consult their doctor immediately with any concerns, even if it seems trivial. Many parents wonder if the illness is severe enough to make that phone call, or they do not want to dramatize the situation. Go ahead and call, it is better to consult your pediatrician than to guess what may be ailing your child.

Finance is a big area of concern with families. On average, the cost of raising a child to the age of 18 is $226,000. That's a lot of money and it doesn't include college! You have to figure that this covers food, clothing, vacations, medical expenses, child care costs and other occurring expenses. However, the desire to have a baby is much more important than the cost of having one. Experienced parents will tell you that no one is ever truly ready for a child when it comes to finance and it does turn out all right in the end.

Before the baby arrives, parents can reduce the financial stress by setting a family budget. Make a list of all your monthly expenses and discuss where you can make cuts in spending. You may find hidden costs that can be eliminated. Also, if one parent is considering staying home, keeping a part time job, or working from the home, this would be a great time to weigh the decision against your budget needs.

Apgar Score Factors

The Apgar score is used to evaluate a newborn's need for immediate care such as suction of airways; babies usually improve with this follow-up treatment.
The Apgar score is used to evaluate a newborn's need for immediate care such as suction of airways; babies usually improve with this follow-up treatment. | Source

Parental Concern with Apgar Score

After your baby is born he or she will be given a test to determine his or her physical condition and to evaluate any immediate concern for medical attention. This test, called the Appearance, Pulse, Grimace, Activity, and Respiration (Apgar), will be administered by either the doctor, midwife, or nurse in the birthing or delivery room immediately after your baby is born.

Generally, the test is administered one minute after birth, and again five minutes after birth. The test is sometimes taken ten minutes later if the results of the second test are low and cause for concern. A score of 7, 8, or 9 is considered normal and indicates your newborn is in good health. A low Apgar score is not indicative of serious or long-term health problems nor does it predict your child's future health condition.

According to Dr. David Zieve, Medical Director, ADAM, Inc., and Dr. Neil Kaneshiro, Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine, when an Apgar score is lower than 7 the newborn may need help adjusting to life outside the womb. The usual treatment is oxygen and clearing the infant's airway to help her or him breathe, and physical stimulation to increase heart beat.

The five factors used to evaluate your baby's overall condition are listed below in the Apgar Scoring chart. Each factor is assigned a value of 0 to 2, with 2 being the best score. Total scores vary from 0 to 10, with 10 being the highest possible score. (Source: MedlinePlus)

Although the idea of any test is of concern to new parents, the Apgar should be viewed as positive and beneficial to your newborn's overall well being. Should there be a concern, the provider will address the score and suggest follow-up care with you to ensure your baby develops appropriately.

Apgar Scoring Chart

Sign
2
1
0
Heart Rate (pulse)
Normal: above 100 beats per minute
Below 100 beats per minute
Absent: no pulse
Breathing
Normal rate and effort, good cry
Slow or irregular breathing, weak cry
Absent: no breathing
Grimace (responsiveness or relfex irritability)
Pulls away, sneezes, cries or coughs with stimulation
Facial movement only (grimace with stimulation)
Absent: no response to stimulation
Activity (muscle tone)
Active, spontaneous movement
Arms and legs flexed with little movement
No movement: floppy tone
Appearance (skin coloration)
Normal color all over
Normal color, but hands and feet are pink
Bluish-gray or pale all over, feet are bluish
 
 
Note: Five Sign Category points are added together to obtain the Apgar Score.
Source: Medline Plus (nlm.nih.gov); Kidshealth.org
Source

The Stress Is Gone

I asked some new parents what the main stressor was in raising their baby. They all agreed that is was fear. They feared that they would not be able to raise their child well and they were uncertain of their parenting skills. One woman stated that she was afraid that she would not even be able to comfort her child and that the child may not bond with her.

This is all normal. I can remember being uncertain about holding my baby. I was nervous and tense when it came to picking him up for a feeding. Now, looking back, it seems trivial. I do not minimize the feelings that a new parent exhibits, just that after you gain confidence in yourself, it will all come naturally.

Here is what you gain in facing those fears:

  1. You learn that crying is a good thing. The baby's tears are wonderful and so are yours.
  2. You discover that you are a stronger person inside than you would have ever imagined.
  3. You discover that holding a baby is the most precious experience.
  4. You love more deeply, intimately. You see the world differently now and want everyone to enjoy it with you.
  5. You smile and radiate pure joy at the sight of your child and marvel at each little advancement she makes.
  6. You would face a giant rather than worry about what it takes to raise your child.
  7. You discover that your little bundle is a reflection of who you are and look forward to watching him grow through the years.
  8. You realize that those previous stress factors are no longer a threat. You have conquered your fears and are now riding high on the clouds the rest of the way.

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    • teaches12345 profile image
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      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      I agree that watching a baby grow does help a parent to recover from stress quickly. Thanks for your visit here, Vnsatakopan. I appreciate your support of the hub.

    • vnsatakopan profile image

      Dr.Vangeepuram Navaneetham Satakopan 5 years ago from Chennai, India

      Watching a baby grow is itself a great compensation for all the stress.

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      I am so glad that the hub article has helped you in relieve some anxiety. All parents, especially me, have gone through those fears. It's normal, but through experience and time, you learn and develop confidence in your parenting skills. I appreciate your stopping by here and always good to see you!

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 5 years ago from San Francisco

      The very THOUGHT of a new parent's trials and tribulations is enough to get my heart pounding. The whole process seems positively horrifying to me! That said, these coping tips you've provided are great- and perhaps they've even put a little dent in my anxiety!

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Thanks Rosemay for your insightful comment and support. I agree with you that having a child is far more valuable than to let the cost deter your decision. I am thankful that I had my mom and sisters to help me through the new parent phase. It was a comforting. Take care, friend.

    • Rosemay50 profile image

      Rosemary Sadler 5 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand

      This brings back memories. We are never totally prepared and the first born is always the worst, we doubt our abilities of 'getting it right' from is he getting enough feed right down to the bath teperature. This is when family and friends offering support is so valuable in boosting that confidence.

      But I agre with Moonlake, if we waited until we could 'aford' it the population would decrease drastically.

      A wonderfully helpful hub full of encouraging advice.

      Voting up

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Rahul, your contribution is excellent and appreciated. Thank you for coming over to visit. You take care and have a great weekend, my friend.

    • rahul0324 profile image

      Jessee R 5 years ago from Gurgaon, India

      A useful and brilliant hub!

      Stress is common while parenting an infant... But with the advice and tips above.. on can nullify it

      Children in their infant stage need utmost attention and care..

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Peggy, thanks for your contribution to the hub. It is a cost to consider but should not be a factor in having a sweet baby.

      Jpcmc, I remember those days, but they pass quickly. Truly, they will be great memories as time passes.

      Sofs, those tears build our strength and love.. yes, they are so precious! Thanks for your sweet comment.

      Alocsin, no one is every ready, you have stated the truth on that fact. It's just a path you have to follow and learn as you go. Your visit was a great add to the hub!

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 5 years ago from Orange County, CA

      The thing about parenting is nobody is every prepared for it, even if you take all the classes in the world. Fortunately, most parents seem to do a good job by learning as they do it. Voting this Up and Interesting.

    • sofs profile image

      sofs 5 years ago

      Hmmm.. am I glad that I am through with all this... and yet to hold a baby in your arms and smell his/her little angel smell, is heaven indeed. The tears, Oh Yes! the tears... both the baby's and ours.. precious... I wonder how I manged those times... I wish, I had you to tell me all these things then. God bless you ... Interesting and informative hub!

    • jpcmc profile image

      JP Carlos 5 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      One of the challenges we are facing is the lack of sleep and rest. It's a good thing that our daughter's sleping habits is getting fairly regular and longer now. This way, my wife and I can get more sleep. But since she is breast feeding, she sometimes have to wake in the middle of the night. Voted Up.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      You are so wise with your council to new parents. I would imagine that the concerns are universal. As to the expense of rearing children today...that has grown to quite an impressive dollar amount especially if helping with college costs. Up and useful votes.

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Greatstuff, it is a universal problem for sure and it would be interesting to see how it is handled in other countries. Thanks for the votes, visit and support. Have a good weekend and be safe.

    • greatstuff profile image

      Mazlan 5 years ago from Malaysia

      It is strange, I think all over the world, every new parents have the same problem: fear of not able to raise their child properly. But if they know what to expect, then this fear is 'well controlled' Good and informative hub. Vote up and useful

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Anginwu, glad you stopped by here. Those fears so seem to fade away as the joy of your child grows within you. Thanks for your comment and support.

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Webclinician, thanks for your added insight to the hub. Yes, postpartum blues and post natal depression sometimes hit women differently. It is a concern for many.

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Drbj, thanks for your views on the topic. I appreciate your visit and support. Have a great weekend.

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Hyphenbird, you have a point, many grandparents are helping new parents to raise children today. Take care.

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Thanks for your visit, Alicia. It is always a pleasure to have you stop in. Thanks also for leaving a comment.

    • anglnwu profile image

      anglnwu 5 years ago

      I agree fear is a big issue--the uncertainty of your own capabilities as a new parent--been there. But as you pointed out, the joys far outweighs the stress and setbacks. Appreciate your knowlege of this subject and thanks for sharing.

    • webclinician profile image

      webclinician 5 years ago from Stoke on Trent

      I think you forgot about postpartum blues or even post natal depression.

      It is quite common and hard to detect.

      Seen quite a few already and many even feel guilty to admit it until things got out of hand.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 5 years ago from south Florida

      Excellent, well-written, and most useful realistic information for parents, teaches. You have outdone yourself. Brava. And Up!

    • Hyphenbird profile image

      Brenda Barnes 5 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

      Thankfully, I am past the age to have a new baby. However many of us find ourselves raising a grandchild (or more) nowadays. Thank you for the great tips, ideas and advice.

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Your comments are so encouraging, Alicia. I hope the article is useful to a new parent in calming those unknown fears. Take care.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      This is yet another hub containing great advice for parents, teaches. It's wonderful that you share your knowledge and experience in your hubs. They are very helpful to anyone who has children or who comes in contact with children.

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Christy, fear of the unknown is a big factor for new parents. It is all new territory for them and experience only builds through the journey. I appreciate your positive support, you are a great support to my writing. Thanks for the vote and visit. Take care.

    • ChristyWrites profile image

      Christy Birmingham 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      It does make sense that fear would be the biggest concern. While I do not have children, you outline the issues so well here. I do like your writing style. I vote up.

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Hello, Michele. It is so nice to see you again. I guess we all learn from experience better than anything else. Parenting is so worth all the cost, effort and "hard knocks". Your thoughts are appreciated and valued! Blessings, my friend.

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      I can't imagine how difficult it must have been for your raising a child without family support. What a challenge. I guess you did all the right things from what your son stated. Thanks for your thoughts on the topic, a valuable add to the content. You take care out there.

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Hello Lindacee! I appreciate your comment and visit. You are so encouraging to me. You take care now, my friend.

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Sturgeoni, you are not alone on the fear factor. I was anxious about many little things that never really materialized. It is normal and I guess it is good that parents are a little nervous because it shows they care. I appreciate your comments, as always they add to the content. Be well and safe.

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Ann, it is a blessing when you can stay home with your children. Many parents do not have this opportunity and I wish they were able to do so. Scoping out the best care is important and finding a good caretaker will give them some peace of mine. Thanks for your insightful post, vote and visit. Be at peace today.

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Hello, Moonlake. Great insight, if you wait until you have the money, you may not ever have one. It is wise to save and plan for a new baby, but in the end you just have to go for it. Thanks for your add to the topic, your vote and have a great day.

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Mary, I will stop by to check out your hub soon. It is surprising how much it does cost to raise a child. Too soon, they are ready for college and parents face having to address the cost. Thanks for sharing, your votes and contribution to the topic. Always a pleasure to see you.

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Cleaner3, even if you do not have kids, everyone knows it's a big responsibility. I agree that some young people do not know what to expect. However, in time it does come to them. Thanks for your visit and support. Take care.

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Planning for a baby does involve a lot of work and effort. I think that in today's world, there are so many more options to consider just in something like furniture alone. Thanks for stopping in here, Vellur. It's always nice to visit with you.

    • Michele Travis profile image

      Michele Travis 5 years ago from U.S.A. Ohio

      This is a wonderful hub. Even though my daughter is 16, I could have learned a lot if I had read this when she was a baby. You share wonderful information. Not just guesses. Good information that will help new parents. Thank you for this hub. Voted up and all across the board except for funny. It is not silly, it is very good information.

    • KathyH profile image

      KathyH 5 years ago from Las Vegas, Nevada

      Great hub! :) We had all these stresses times two, and we lived in Hawaii with virtually no family support due to my husband being in the Air force. My son told me not long ago "I don't know how you did it with two, Mom, this one is plenty!"

      If we had waited until we could afford them, they wouldn't have ever been here! You're so right, you get over the fears, and everything you go through with them is beyond worth it! :) Voted up!! Thanks for sharing! :)

    • lindacee profile image

      lindacee 5 years ago from Arizona

      Super Hub for new parents. I do not have children myself, but I certainly recognize wise advice and practical information when I read it! Great job, teaches!

    • Sturgeonl profile image

      Sturgeonl 5 years ago

      What a great hub. I just remember the fear I had as a new parent. This is going to help a lot of first time parents. I love the points for the gains made when fears are faced. Voted up and useful!

    • profile image

      ann davis 5 years ago

      I agree with moonlake. If we try to make a budget to raise a child, we would be too old to have them by the time we could afford it.

      Your advice in child care is well thought out. Today's parents have to work, and leaving them in the care of others will have repercussions on the next generation.

      Voted up and useful.

    • moonlake profile image

      moonlake 5 years ago from America

      My granddaughter said "We're not having a baby until we can afford it." I just smiled. My husband and I talked about it later. We knew that if we had waited to have a baby until we could afford it, our pretty little granddaughter wouldn't even be here worrying about money before having a baby. There is never really a time you can afford a baby but you do need to plan and figure out all the details. Can you afford daycare? Should Mom stay home?

      Great hub and enjoyed it. Loved the baby video. voted up.

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 5 years ago from Florida

      As always, this Hub is full of good information. Being a new parent is extremely stressful, I remember well! Even being a new Grandmother is stressful, too. One thing new parents don't think about if planning for the baby's education and the costs. I think that is so important: I wrote a Hub about that. When you have some time check it out. The years fly by and we aren't ready to pay for college. I voted this Hub UP, and I will share because I think it is so worthwhile.

    • cleaner3 profile image

      cleaner3 5 years ago from Pueblo, Colorado

      teaches, i don't have children but i do know that it is a huge responsibility and most young people don't understand that. this is a very good hub for all new parents.

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 5 years ago from Dubai

      Having a baby is a big decision which need a lot of planning and consideration. You have presented a wonderful hub with excellent pointers for people who have chosen to have a baby. Voted up.Very useful.

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Bill, it's true, parents still have the same fears as when we raised our children. It is natural and parenting is one thing you just have to "take a leap of faith" and go for it. Thanks for stopping by. Have a great night's rest.

      Skarlet, I always enjoy your visits and appreciate your insightful comments. Crying is good as it helps a baby to communicate. Take care.

    • Skarlet profile image

      Skarlet 5 years ago from California

      Wow!You have done it again. Voted up! This is beautiful in every way. This will be very helpful for new parents. I find myself telling people often that crying is a good thing, its when they are silent that we need to be concerned.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Dianna, you brought back memories with this one. I was just about to shut down for the night and then saw this hub and here I am. Great job my friend! Fears are natural for all new parents and I experienced most of the ones you listed as I'm sure most parents do.

      Take care and blessings always.

      bill

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Kelley, once that little one arrives the cost of raising him or her is of little concern. They are gifts from God above and loves them just as much, even more, than we do. Thanks for your visit and support. You were the first on here .... hugs!

    • profile image

      kelleyward 5 years ago

      Teaches12345, thanks for sharing this hub! My husband, who is the breadwinner of the family never considered the money he would need to make per child. He told me "every life is a gift from God and the gift's God gives He will provide" and I believe that sentiment with all my being. Although kids cost money they are so worth it! Take care, Kelley