Dealing with a New Baby in the Family
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Having another baby means big changes for the whole family. In this video, learn how to deal with a new baby in the family.


Wendy Turner Webster: A new baby can create a huge amount of stress and chaos in a family from exhaustion to jealous kids and a left out father. The demands of a new born can be emotionally and physically draining especially during the first few weeks. Valerie Outram who works for the Charity Parent Line Plus is here to talk about dealing with this incredibly stressful period in your life. So Valerie new born baby, the first baby that comes along in to your life, I am sure lots of mothers watching can relate to this topic. What are the obvious problems that the Parent Line Plus gets calls about. Valerie Outram: Well I think the main thing is that we have a baby and we don't have an instructional manual, we don't receive any training, there we are with this new life that's totally depend on us and there is a huge amount of anxiety about getting it right and I think there is a lot of pressure on new mothers now a days to be perfect and to have perfect children and there are so many instructions and advice coming from different people that sometimes in the middle of it parents feel very -- mothers feel overwhelmed and anxious about their inability. Wendy Turner Webster: So if someone is in that situation they can ring Parent Line Plus. Valerie Outram: Definitely anytime of day or night we are out 365 days a year, 24 hours a day and I know that personally when my baby work five in the morning and I was up for now I thought I was the only person in the world that wake at that time, but now we have Parent Line Plus and you can call and they would be there and they will answer and may be just calm you down in the situation that you feel like you are tearing your hair out and your baby is screaming and you don't know what to do. And it's somebody that's awaken can help you at any time. Wendy Turner Webster: When we -- I remember when Garry and I bought Jack our first baby back home we rang up the hospital in the middle of the night saying he is crying what should we do and of course no I look back and say oh! My God! At least naïve, we didn't know what to do, we have got a crying baby, suddenly in our bedroom what do we do we don't know. Valerie Outram: Well I think you are definitely not alone I think that most people experience that with the new baby as a huge shock it's that feeling of the dependency of hits you like a ton of breaks and you need to know that there are people out there that can help you. Wendy Turner Webster: I tell you what the advice she gave the nurse of the hospital, she says well if he is crying put him into bed with you too and I am sure he will be alright. The only trouble is he stopped crying and he is still in our bed six years later. Valerie Outram: There are strategies that you could employ. Wendy Turner Webster: So that's an obvious one that they have new born first child, coming in. What about when 2nd, 3rd, 4th, baby comes along that too brings it's own stress, strains and pressure on to the whole family. Valerie Outram: Of course it does. Wendy Turner Webster: The other children too. Valerie Outram: Then you have siblings that are feeling a little bit, knows pushed out and joined little bit and slightly threaten in a situation and you have difficult behavior from may be toddlers, so you have a new baby and you have toddlers making demands, your partners probably working all hours to try and support you all and you are there in the middle trying to cope and of course with your second and third baby don't have anyone near the same amount of first made debut by family or friends. Wendy Turner Webster: Yes you have done it before, you have done it once, so you know what you are doing. Valerie Outram: You are expected to just get on with it. Wendy Turner Webster: That's right so get on with it. Valerie Outram: But of course it is sort of -- it can be much more difficult and I think one of the main things is to try and involve your children into the feeling of it's their baby too and to ask them if they want us to help and names and things like that so and also sort of I think -- if the baby crying and driving everybody crazy, it's okay for a mother to say oh! This baby -- bring the children on board saying oh! He does cry a lot, doesn't it and then allows them to talk about their feelings and say and to express their feelings like yes we are fed up with the baby now you can take it back to the hospital if - Wendy Turner Webster: Yes, actually because Jeff and I often talk about how naughty Freddy is my little one. We have a little lion then this is - Valerie Outram: I think that's very positive because it is sort of makes them feel involved and it is part of the family and they have to say I think that's what worries children if it's been pushed out and they don't have a place anymore. Wendy Turner Webster: So presumably one of the major things that come across when people ring Parent Line Plus about a child coming into the family, new born particularly is exhaustion. Valerie Outram: Of course yes. Wendy Turner Webster: Because will just drive you nuts isn't it? Valerie Outram: Yes I mean that just puts everything one level further it just pushes people over the edge when you haven't slept for weeks and you can see an end inside. Wendy Turner Webster: I remember getting to the point, I was nearly crying, I think sometimes I was crying with tiredness. Valerie Outram: Yes well it's a torture isn't it? Wendy Turner Webster: Absolutely it's a form of torture sleep deprivation. Valerie Outram: And then parents say this is nothing I think that's the way. You wait until they are older age I think definitely the most stressful is when you getting use to something new and it's a very-very difficult time, I think everybody feels that. Wendy Turner Webster: So when people ring the charity, do you give advice on the handy hints and tips or is it more of your way to actually and talk through a problem. Valerie Outram: Well definitely there is a lesson that's our main over riding emphasis really and we do have other organizations that we can refer then on to, we wouldn't give a medical advice, we would always tell them to go their doctor or to ring NHS direct in the same way we don't give legal advice, it's about. Wendy Turner Webster: But you can refer. Valerie Outram: We can refer them on to other people. But it's about emotional support and allowing -- giving parents back the power and the control to themselves, not saying where the experts were going to take this away from you, saying actually you cant cope, because sometimes that sort of advice if you like could be quite disempowering and we want to get back the power to the parent and so actually you cant cope, you just need to calm down a little bit and think through what you have got that you can do and to be able to feel confident about their parenting. Wendy Turner Webster: It's very much as well as reassuring parents that they are not alone, everyone else out there are super parents. And we are doing it by the book to have the perfect children. Valerie Outram: Yes when you are bombarded with images on adverse and most of us are perfect family and Wendy Turner Webster: Clean baby. Valerie Outram: Yes exactly it's coming up to scratch then it can make you feel very inadequate and I think that's what one of the main jobs that we have got to is try and tell parents they are not alone and everybody has a problem. Wendy Turner Webster: I think it's well when you are a parent for the first time you suddenly realize how the focus has shifted from you and you actually don't have time for yourself anymore and that can be big thing to adjust. Valerie Outram: Yes again is one of our messages to parents is that you have to look after your own needs, you have to recognize that you have Wendy Turner Webster: Don't let yourself go. Valerie Outram: Not to let yourself go but remember you have needs as an adult and that if you recognize them and reward yourself and recognize it when you are not coping to give yourself time and space to move away, it gives you strength to be able to come back and to carry on coping and if you don't recognize your own needs really then you are going to find it difficult to recognize your baby's needs and of course have needs and thoughts but they cant express them, they just do screaming and kicking their legs around and so it's quite difficult, I think that's sense of frustration of not knowing what they are trying to tell you. But unless you look after yourself and keep yourself calm and saying really you are not going to do the best job you can do with your baby. Wendy Turner Webster: I suppose this was a classic example of how the focus shifts from the parents suddenly on the little baby you have got in front of you, the parents not having time for each other anymore yes and that sort of relationship and a sexual relationship gone out of the window. Valerie Outram: Yes it is a difficult time for couples I think it's all about communication really and about expressing how difficult you are finding it with your partner, the partner often feels that is needs are being put on to second or third place and to recognize that we all have needs and sometimes you can be bit fed up and I think you have to build in time, if you want to keep the relationship going and strong is to remember that you need to give your partner some time and space as well. And the baby will survive if you leave it with a responsible adult and fix some time to go and have some time for yourself and your partner. Wendy Turner Webster: Do you get dads calling in who feel left out. Valerie Outram: Definitely yes we also have step-dads that come in and are sort of trying to adjust to a new situation but yes we do and I think as again with women there is more pressure on men of coarse now to be more active as a parent and sometimes they wont be active but they don't quite know what to do with themselves specially with a new baby when the mother is breastfeeding it for example the fathers what I am suppose to do. Wendy Turner Webster: What's my role? Valerie Outram: Yes what's may role and it's difficult and I think if we just stress how you really must trying and talk to each other about how you are feeling and not necessarily to put it on hold to think that's important. Wendy Turner Webster: Now jealous partners which obviously we have talked about I would think a major-major problems must come out in the instance where there is a new born coming into a step family situation in very complex issues must be involved and Valerie Outram: Of course it's very complex yes, I think really what it is it's about different perceptions the adults in the new relationship in love they want to they see a new baby as something that's cementing a family and so they have 1 perception about this new baby bringing people together and of course they have to remember that actually their children might have from the other relationship will probably more than likely have a completely different perception of it, they see this new baby as a symbol of mom and dad are definitely not going to get back together there is no going back and it takes time I think that's - people to be to sort of allow to allow people to have different feelings and to accept that your excitement about your new baby might be shared and I think the anyway you can do that is by just keeping the lines of communication open and allowing people to express may be negative feelings that they have and not to discover that and I think eventually people get used to it and settle down and may be that bond does happen in the end but it does take time and being open like that. Wendy Turner Webster: Yes absolutely which of course is the whole point of Parent Line Plus is to talk. Valerie Outram: Definitely that something happens in the brain I think when you actually express but it is your feeling it allows you just to come down and may be to get your thoughts in some sort of order and to know what you are feeling sometimes it's very difficult to know what you are feeling and I suppose that's was the job call-taker on the other end of the line just to see some way through that sort of chaos sometimes and people are feeling very confused and they don't know quite well about their feeding, they have got this feeding, they have got that feeding just to trying to see a way through and to identify what it is that's the main problem and look forward. Wendy Turner Webster: Do you get people or how much of a problem is it's, I know it's usually referred to in a jockey way it's a sort of mother in law interfering which you will find very funny, but that can have his own impact on the family. Valerie Outram: Of course again it goes back to the confidence of the mother and the father about their own ways and obviously times have changed and sometimes your attitudes and your thoughts about parenting will be different from your parents and let alone your parents in law. So I think it's about letting people have to say, but also trying to keep of what it is that you really believe and to have confidence really about and trust your own emotions and trust your feelings about what's right for the children. Wendy Turner Webster: All people who ring in to Parent Line Plus usually at the end of their tether when they ring you or presumably you would like them to call before a point. Valerie Outram: Well a lot of people are at the end of that tether and I think that's it's a great safety valve there is a lot of people in crisis living very complicated lives and so we do get a lot of crisis calls, but we also get calls from people that something is just been sort of nagging away and they don't really know who to talk to about it they had sometimes they do have the family network they have friends and they have family but they want to talk somebody in confidence this can be outside that where there is no judgment on those preconception about them all the situation and then so it's completely outside point of view so I think we all sorts of calls really. Wendy Turner Webster: I would suppose as well something which is more prevalent in recent years is the pressure for women to go back to work or some kind of guilt associated with that and how soon do you go to work after this new born has come along. Valerie Outram: We definitely don't tell parents what to do, we are not about telling people what to do, we will listen to what it is - the different situation that they have got, their might be pressure and I would have to go back, they might feel that they are not very good at being a parent, they feel they know more in advert they feel more confident and it's everybody is different and everybody is the best parent that they can possibly be and there is no such thing as the perfect parent even though we all would aspire to that there is no such thing as perfect parent, we all have problems. Wendy Turner Webster: Yeah there is no parent, there is no instruction manual for baby. Valerie Outram: So it's a difficult job it's the most difficult job you are ever going to do really. Wendy Turner Webster: Absolutely well thankfully they know that they have got Parent Line Plus too turn to and if you say talk be open and then you know you can put them in touch with other organization other people in the whole thing then certainly the problem does start to go away, doesn't it? Valerie Outram: You know sharing a problem is harming I should say so. And then we have got the website as well which is a very-very good interactive website you can email this if you don't want to use a telephone you can email and we have got lots of sort of handy tips and hints if parents want to access that sort of information on the touch of a button. Wendy Turner Webster: Okay very useful thank you very much Valerie. Valerie Outram: Thank you.