There’s no guidebook to being the perfect parent, and even if there was, no matter how hard we tried, we would never feel perfect, that’s just part of being a parent! What you can do, though, is prepare ourselves for parenthood by creating an environment of love and support for both your child and for yourself.
The best way to become more confident in your parenting skills, especially as a new parent, is to prepare. Look into taking prenatal classes, ask for good recommendation for parenting books, discuss any questions or concerns with your OB doctor, look around and meet with different pediatricians to choose the right one for you, and look into postpartum services while you are still pregnant (such as lactation support, newborn care assistance, support groups, etc.). Taking care of these things while you are still pregnant will not only prepare your for your baby’s arrival, but will also allow you to have a list of support services available to you for after you deliver so you don’t have to worry about finding reputable support if or when you really need it.
Choose the right pediatrician
Talk to your OB doctor, friends, and family in the area and get a few recommendations for pediatricians. Most pediatrician offices have some kind of open house night where you can meet with the doctors in the practice and ask questions. Find a pediatrician who you not only like personality wise, but who also shares the same personal and professional views on important topics like feeding choices and methods, sleep schedule and training, vaccinations, screen time, etc. You see your pediatrician more than any other healthcare provider, so it’s important that they are someone you like and trust. This will lend to a much more pleasant and confident parenting experience.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help early on, even if things are going well
After your baby arrives it is important that you feel like you are getting the support and education you need right away. Set up a lactation visit within the first week home if you are breastfeeding (even if things are going well you will still have so many questions). Don’t be afraid to ask for help from your spouse, family, friends, and professional services in your area. There will come a time (more likely more than one time!), when you will feel overwhelmed and exhausted and even just one good night’s sleep can make all the difference. If and when you get to this point, go back to that list of resources you created for yourself while you were pregnant, and ask for help! You’ll be a better parent in the end because of it.
Join a local new parent support group
One of the best things you can do for yourself after having a baby is surround yourself with people who are in the same situation as you. Having this type of support will remind you that you are not alone. It will allow you to surround yourself with people who can support you, and in turn, you can help support them. Joining a support group is a great way to meet new people, ask questions without judgement, and just get out of the house!
Be wary of unreputable sources of information
I know we all like immediate answers, but a fast answer isn’t always a right answer. Try not to search questions through a search engine (if you can) but instead reach out to your OB, pediatrician or other healthcare professionals when possible. If you do end up using the internet as a source of information, make sure you are getting your answers from a reputable site, like the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), Mayo Clinic, American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG), and other academic sites. Trusted and knowledgeable friends and family members can be great resources as well. Just be wary of asking too many friends or family members for advice, as you then may end up getting a lot of different opinions.
Trust your gut
As a parent, even a new parent, you have an innate ability to tell when something isn’t right with your baby. If you think something is off, don’t be afraid to call your pediatrician with any questions or concerns. This is why having a great relationship with your pediatrician can be so important. The best case scenario is that your concerns are simply a false alarm, and that’s ok!
Being a parent is the hardest job you will ever have, but also the most fulfilling. That’s why having the knowledge, skills, and support you need prior to and after your baby’s arrival can make all the difference in your self confidence as a parent.
About the author:
Boston NAPS, LLC is a Boston-based, private nursing company and team of qualified Registered Nurses that specializes in providing nursing care to expecting, new, and experienced parents and families. Boston NAPS services include prenatal, postpartum, lactation, and newborn support and education to families throughout Massachusetts. All services are offered in the privacy and comfort of your home, with some services also offered in a group setting. For more information about Boston NAPS, please visit their website at www.BostonNAPS.com.