First time parenting brings with it joy and plenty of anxieties


Family Recovery Center publicist

We want babies. They-and we-love to cuddle. Babies smell sweet and are much cuter than puppies or kittens. People say babies are talking with the angels when they smile in their sleep.

And when we hand those delightful bundles of joy back to Mom or Dad we aren’t too likely to think about late night colicky episodes, messy diapers that leak all over the place and parents who just want to go to bed and catch some sleep like they did in the old days BC (before children) but Baby already is challenging the parents’ carefully considered plans.

What changes parenting brings to the lives of two people who are so excited to bring a new life into the world, someone they can love and teach and mold into the kind of human being they want to send out into the world someday.

In addition to getting days and nights mixed up and diaper rash parents just can’t decide on a whim to go play golf or shop or have a coffee klatch with the girls. There is a baby dependent on them now. And when friends are getting ready to go out, unless you find a sitter, there is a diaper bag to pack: diapers, extra clothes in case of accidents like leaky diapers, formula, powder, lotion, blankets, small toys to distract them when they get restless or start to cry. Did you ever wonder how much a diaper bag weighs before a new family starts out on reconnaissance?

As exhaustion sets in, the highlight of a new parent’s day may be that moment when Baby finally nods off for a nap.

Parents love their children, but the stress of child-rearing, well, it just isn’t appreciated when your parents tell you about it. You have to experience it firsthand. Depression becomes an issue for many parents.

One study indicated that 42 percent of new mothers and 26 percent of new dads become depressed three to six months into their parenting experience.

It isn’t easy to make that leap from doing whatever you want whenever you want to being tied down with a little person who is completely dependent on you for survival.

That stress that is followed by depression has negative effects on the marriage relationship, and everything can crumble from there.

An issues comes to mind: Postpartum depression. It isn’t a character flaw or a weakness.

The Mayo Clinic defines it more of a complication of giving birth. There are a lot of emotions involved-joy and excitement because the child that is the heart’s desire is finally here, and then there is the fear and anxiety that something might go wrong and you won’t know how to handle it right. Mom’s hormones are still jumbled up and settling back down after nine months of pregnancy.

The signs of “baby blues” include: mood swings, anxiety, sadness, irritability, crying, decreased concentration, trouble sleeping.

Postpartum depression symptoms may be: loss of appetite, insomnia, intense irritability and anger, overwhelming fatigue, loss of interest in sex, lack of joy in life, feelings of shame, guilt or inadequacy, severe mood swings, trouble bonding with Baby, withdrawal from friends and family, thoughts of harming yourself or your baby.

When these signs appear, or if they last longer than a couple of weeks, talk to your doctor. You don’t have to feel this way. There is help available for you. Do not be afraid to ask.

Another concern is Shaken Baby Syndrome. This is a traumatic brain injury that happens when a baby is violently shaken. Babies have large, heavy heads and weak neck muscles.

When shaken, their fragile brains rattle inside of the skull, becoming bruised, swollen and bleeding. Permanent, severe brain damage can be a result, or even death.

Symptoms of shaken baby syndrome include extreme irritability, lethargy, poor feeding, breathing problems, convulsions, vomiting and pale or bluish skin.

Actually, shaken baby syndrome can occur up to age 5 though often it is in children younger than 2, according to National Institute of Health’s (NIH) Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

Parenting is not for the feint of heart, but once you make the commitment you can do this. Sometimes you may need a little help. Everyone needs help sometime.

Family Recovery Center promotes the well being of individuals, families and communities with education, prevention and treatment programs for substance abuse and related mental health issues.

For more information about programs, contact the agency at 964-966 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468 or e-mail, FRC is funded, in part, by United Way of Northern Columbiana County.