Stress

Besides the challenges of round-the-clock baby care, many other factors can leave you feeling stressed, overwhelmed or depressed during the postpartum weeks. Many new parents will experience some of these situations and feelings:

• If you're used to feeling in control and organized, you may be dismayed when your orderly lifestyle flies out the window after you give birth. Rather than the serene family life you envisioned, it may be chaotic.

• If your baby's birth didn't go as expected — for example, you had an unexpected Caesarean delivery or a very long labor — you may feel disappointed, resentful or like a failure.

• If you had a premature baby or more than one baby, you're dealing with extra responsibilities.

• For parents who have been working full time, the transition from being a competent worker to a novice caregiver may be difficult.

• You may face feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt as you figure out by trial and error how to take care of your baby — and you realize that it doesn't just come naturally.

• You may find it hard to adjust to limited time spent with adults. After all, a newborn doesn't provide conversation. You may miss your friends.

• Financial worries are common to most parents. No matter what your income level, having a child may strain the budget.

• It may be difficult to embrace your role as a new parent. Many women feel a sense of mourning for their old identity as a carefree, possibly career-oriented person. You may feel ill at ease with your new identity as "mother" or with the shift from center stage to backstage as your baby becomes the focus of attention.

• You may feel guilty or worried if you don't bond immediately with your baby or don't have overwhelming feelings of love at first sight.

• The dynamics of your relationship with your partner may change after the birth. You have to figure out how to divide work, child care and household duties and how to balance having time with the baby, time as a couple and time alone.

• Many couples experience a significant change in sexual activity after the birth of a baby. Because of fatigue, physical discomfort, hormonal changes, lack of desire or dissatisfaction with how they look following the birth, most women feel less interested in sex for a while after having a baby.

My First Baby

My First Baby

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