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Becoming a Parent - Caring for Yourself and Your Relationships

Did you know that you’ve actually been a parent since you first found out you were having a baby? It may feel more real now that your baby has arrived. Even with the best preparation, the reality of caring for your baby can feel overwhelming. Parenting brings changes to your relationships as you take on your new role. There may be challenges with sharing parenting responsibilities, learning different ways of parenting and agreeing on what’s right for your baby. Communicating your parenting decisions to family members, friends and other supports is important.

Life is busier with a new baby in the family. Whether you’re sharing parenting or parenting on your own, it can be easy to forget about working on adult relationships. Having strong relationships and good communication with other adults is important for your mental health. It also shows your child what healthy relationships look like. Talk about your successes, challenges, hopes and fears. Try to put time aside for you and your partner or support person to connect, talk about each other’s needs and tell each other how you’re doing.

Your baby needs parents who take good care of themselves. When you look after yourself, you’re better able to give your child a healthy, nurturing environment to grow and thrive in.

Here are some tips that may help you adjust to your new baby:

  • Take things one step at a time and one day at a time. Enjoy today.
  • Ask for help from supportive people you trust (e.g. your partner, support person, family, friends and health care provider).
  • Say no to household tasks and other chores that aren’t urgent.
  • Take a nap when your baby naps.
  • Rest, eat well, get plenty of fluids and be physically active.
  • Don’t use alcohol, tobacco or drugs. 
  • Limit caffeine.
  • Take time for yourself. Even a short break can help you feel refreshed.
  • Spend time with your partner or support person. Try to comfort, support and enjoy each other.
  • Stay connected with family and friends.
  • Make friends with other new parents.
  • Write down or draw your thoughts or feelings in a journal. 

Remember, you already have the basics of what you need to be a parent: your love for your baby, instincts and common sense. All parents bring their own skills, attitudes, experiences, beliefs, values and culture to their families. You’ll also build more skills as time goes on. Learning to be a parent takes time.

This information contains excerpts from Alberta Health Services’Healthy Parents, Healthy Children print and online resources. For more information on topics related to pregnancy and being a parent, and for information on where you can pick up print copies of the Healthy Parents, Healthy Children resources, free of charge, go to

The Healthy Parents, Healthy Children team is a part of the larger Healthy Children and Families’team at Alberta Health Services. Find them on Facebook at Healthy Parents, Healthy Children or follow on Twitter @AHS_HPHC. For questions or comments, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..



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