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Congratulations - You're A Parent!

Did you ever think you'd have so many questions about such a small person? Well, you're not alone. Most first-time parents prepare well for childbirth, taking at least 12 to 14 hours of classes for an average 18 to 24 hour labor. But how much preparation have you had for the 157,680 hours of parenting you'll experience over the next 18 years? … Yikes! No wonder you're overwhelmed some days!

A new family starts off with many physical and emotional adjustments. It can be exciting, exhausting and terrifying - often all at the same time! How can you make life easier when you have a newborn? First, make sure you get lots of rest, and eat well. Also, put those visitors to work - getting you a snack, picking something up at the store, taking care of other children, whatever you need help with.

Sleep when your baby sleeps. Try unplugging your phone so that it doesn't disturb you when you're resting. This new job you have is not 9 to 5 - it's 24 hours, and you have to rest when you can.

 

Learn about your baby's development. Age appropriate activities and toys can enhance your baby's physical and emotional development. The more you understand about your baby's cues and behaviors, the more you can the easier it is to respond to his or her needs, and the more fun you can have with them. YOU are your baby's best toy!

Find just one or two books that you like for your child care and parenting information. And remember, when family or friends give you advice, every baby and every family is unique. What works in one family may not work in another.

 

Moms and dads have different styles of parenting, and each of us finds our own way to do things. If your partner doesn't bathe or diaper the baby exactly as you do, is that really important? Or is it more important that they are spending time together.

Take time daily for yourself, and for the significant people in your life. Meet other new mothers/parents in your neighborhood. The CRHA Perinatal Education Program is now offering an expanded choice of new parent classes - Baby and You; Babies and Daddies; and Work and Family: Finding a New Balance, are just a few examples. Or check the Parenting section of Calgary's Child Magazine.

 

Parenthood is a lot like labor. Just when you've figured out how to cope with it, along comes a new phase, and all of you have to adjust your roles, try new skills and learn about what's happening now. So, keep practicing that nice relaxed breathing you worked so hard to perfect in prenatal classes. It'll come in handy for coping with the free advice people love to give new parents, for tantrums in the mall (My child? Never!), and for that fateful day when they start driving. Happy parenting!


Maureen Dodd, BA, LCCE, is a Coordinator for the CRHA Perinatal Education Program. Call 781-1450 for the current Perinatal Education Calendar of courses.

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