Coping with stress, tiredness & anger

Your emotions can impact on how you cope with caring for your baby and how you feel about them.  Your days and nights will be busy with feeding, changing, holding, and caring for your baby.  Sometimes it may seem as though you have little or no time for yourself, your partner, family or friends.  You’ll probably have good days and bad days, and sometimes it takes a while for your love for your baby to grow.

Some of these ideas may help:

  • Know that ‘Super parent’ is a myth, so don’t expect too much from yourself. All parents have good and bad days. Set yourself small goals. Try to be calm, as babies can become unsettled if you are stressed. Do only what is necessary.

  • Set yourself small goals, try to be calm, and do only what is necessary.

  • Talk with your support people about how you feel and how they can help.

  • Accept offers of help to make busy times easier to cope with.

  • Make time to relax, cuddle and play with your child.

  • Rest and relax during the day while your child is sleeping.

  • Make time to do something you enjoy each day: go for a walk, play a game, read or watch TV.

  • Spend time with your partner, family and friends, but only leave your child with someone you trust who is 14 years and over.

  • Try not to be critical of yourself.

Coping with tiredness

Broken sleep and caring for a young child is exhausting. The ideas below may help you cope with your tiredness.

  • Sleep or rest when your child sleeps. Turn the phone off when you’re resting.

  • Arrange for a trusted friend or relative to care for your child for a while so you can have a sleep.

  • Talk to visitors about the best time to visit and how they can help.

  • Have a relaxing bath or shower.

  • Share getting up in the night with your partner or support people.

  • Asking a friend or relative to stay may help. 

  • Talk about your tiredness with others.

Coping with anger

Most parents will sometimes feel stressed, anxious or angry. At times it can all feel too much. It is normal for parents to sometimes feel stressed, anxious or angry. It’s important to think about how this affects your child. Here are some things you can do if you feel angry.

  • Think about what happened to make you angry and how it looks to your child.

  • Take some deep breaths.

  • Talk to your child in a calm voice, without blaming them.

  • Put your child in a safe place, and walk away so you have time to calm down.

  • Phone a friend, a family/whānau member, Plunket, or a support person in your community.

  • Never shake or smack your baby as you could easily hurt them. 

Think about what has made you angry, and what triggers your anger. That way, you can plan to do something different when you know you’re most likely to get angry.

Use your local services

Find a local Plunket or parent group, to meet and share experiences with other parents. Talk about your feelings, particularly if you are stressed or feel depressed.   

What to do if you’re at risk of hurting your child

If you feel you can’t cope, might hurt your child, or have already hurt them, you need urgent help. All children deserve to be safe.

If things are out of control, do one of these things straight away:

  • Call an ambulance if you think you have hurt your child. 

  • Call a doctor – especially if you think you may have hurt your child.

  • Call PlunketLine on 0800 933 922. 

  • Call Oranga Tamariki on 0508 FAMILY (0508 326 459).
  • Call a support person.

More information

The first few weeks with a new baby can be bewildering. You may feel like you’re in survival mode, just coping with the relentless cycle of feeding, changing and tending to your baby’s many needs. Find out how other parents got through this time and get tips from the experts on looking after yourself during this time on the Raising Children In New Zealand website.

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