5 Tips for Parents on How to Survive the First Six Weeks After Having a Baby

This advice will help you stay (relatively) sane and help your relationship weather the changes

Many first-time parents describe the first six weeks of their baby’s life as the toughest period of their own lives. It’s physical, emotionally, and psychologically draining in a way that can have adverse effects on the parents’ relationship and their relationship with their child, if they aren’t properly prepared. Luckily, Dr. Paul Peebles, a pediatrician, pediatric hematology-oncologist, and clinical professor of pediatrics at Children’s National Medical Center of George Washington University’s School of Medicine has written Vortex of Feelings: The Early Months to help them survive this metaphorical minefield. Here are his five best tips for helping parents survive this trying time.

Perfection is overrated (and unattainable)

“Parenthood is the ultimate rite of passage to become a grownup. The anxiety about that and any mistakes that detract from that can drive people crazy. There are going to be glitches. You have to go with the flow, because that’s what life is about. You can’t get an A+ all the time.”

Teamwork makes the dream work

“Divide and conquer. For example, if you both try to solve problems at night—like the baby not sleeping—you both end up with a lack of sleep. It’s a good idea to map out a plan where one parents take the first four hours and the other takes the next four hours. You don’t have to be handling the same thing at the same time.”

Let Dad be a dad

“Fathers can slowly, but surely, feel marginalized and become the odd man out in the family. We men are macho and often don’t want to talk about that stuff, but when guys want to take on responsibilities they have to say, ‘I really want to do this. I know that you might know how to do it better, but I really want to do it because I want to be involved and we’re a team.’”

Your kid may not validate you or your work–and that’s okay

“The people that have that feeling of not being acknowledged or rejected by their child are often emotionally needy, because they had a loss in their own childhood, like a parent dying, or their parent wasn’t emotionally available. Let it go. The first time your kid really smiles at you all that stuff will melt away.”

Don’t forget each other

“Parents have to rediscover their intimacy, so they’re not feeling that loss. It can be as simple as saying, ‘I want a hug’ or ‘We need a date.’ You have to protect your life of intimacy, because it’s good for the kid.”

 

 

Get Our Weekend Newsletter

The best DC news, delivered straight to your inbox.
Or, see all of our newsletters. By signing up, you agree to our terms.

Parenting writer

Nevin Martell is a parenting, food, and travel writer whose work has appeared in the Washington Post, New York Times, Saveur, Men’s Journal, Fortune, Travel + Leisure, Runner’s World, and many other publications. He is author of seven books, including It’s So Good: 100 Real Food Recipes for Kids, the travelogue-memoir Freak Show Without a Tent: Swimming with Piranhas, Getting Stoned in Fiji and Other Family Vacations, and the small-press smash Looking for Calvin and Hobbes: The Unconventional Story of Bill Watterson and His Revolutionary Comic Strip. When he isn’t working, he loves spending time with his wife and their four-year-old son, who already runs faster than he does.