Becoming a parent can be one of the most rewarding and challenging things that happens in life. It’s not unusual for a new parent to talk about how much they love their baby one minute, only to be longingly thinking back on how uncomplicated pre-baby life was the next. But can we really blame new parents for feeling slightly confused (and perhaps sceptical) about the ‘joys’ of parenthood? After all, the arrival of a new baby brings with it a series of major adjustments.
There are physical changes to navigate, like new sleep patterns (read: exhaustion). There are psychological adjustments, with many new parents feeling overwhelmed with a sense of responsibility and many new mums transitioning from an established career to learning a whole new set of skills and feeling less competent.
Then there are the everyday challenges of caring for a new baby. And yes, while we all have a natural parenting instinct to nurture, protect and care for our little ones, it doesn’t mean that we will necessarily know what to do as soon as our babies are born. It really is no wonder that the transition to parenthood can be so challenging emotionally, often leading to feelings of self-doubt, guilt, isolation and loneliness. While this can take a toll on all parents, new mums are particularly at risk of experiencing mental health difficulties which makes it even more important for new parents to have lots of social support and good postnatal care during this time.