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Fact Sheet

Preparing for parenthood

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How will it change your life?

Having a baby means making changes in your life. These can be wonderful and rewarding, but they might also involve making some difficult choices. As a parent, you will spend more time at home with your baby and less with your friends. Financially, having a baby to feed and clothe can put a strain on your budget and may mean giving up other things you want. It’s important to work through any concerns you have and get support for yourself and your baby.

Look after yourself as a new parent

As a parent, you might be focused on looking after your baby, and sometimes this means that you won’t have time to look after yourself. It’s important to take care of yourself physically as well as emotionally. Having support can help you balance your needs with the needs of your child. Your family, friends or even a doctor, counselor or social worker can help you work out how best to do this.

Parenthood often keeps you on your toes—there will always be new things to learn and new changes to face. The trick is to cope with these changes without burning out. Eating well, getting regular exercise, relaxing and talking through problems will help you stay healthy and in control of your life. You might want to check out the fact sheets about eating well and being active for more information. It is also a good idea to talk with your doctor or other health professional about the best levels of activity and foods for you.

Here are some more tips to help you take care of yourself in your new role as a parent:

Talk to someone. If you are finding things are tough, talking with someone you trust can help you work through your feelings. If you have a partner, you might want to talk and share your feelings with each other in safe and supportive ways. Learning how you might be able to support each other can be important for both of you. It’s also often helpful to have support from someone who has experienced parenthood. This could be someone like your mom, dad or guardian, older siblings or grandparents. You can also talk to a friend, doctor or counselor.

Do things you enjoy, even if you’re at home. There will be times when you have to stay at home when you would rather be out. This can be tough, but try to make your at-home time fun. Doing things you enjoy can help you feel better about yourself and your new parenting role. Invite your friends over, listen to music, cook a nice meal, or chill out and relax for a while. Check out the Relaxation fact sheet for ideas for chilling out.

Take time out from being the parent once in a while. It’s O.K. to leave your child with someone you trust so that you can have some time to yourself. You might want to ask your partner, parents, siblings, friends or neighbors to baby sit for a while. Make sure that your babysitter is someone whom you trust. Use your time alone to go shopping, see a movie or hang out with friends.

Get lots of rest. Sometimes having a child can make your sleep patterns irregular. Babies often need your attention at times when you want to rest or sleep. It’s important that you try to get some rest when your baby is sleeping so that you can catch up on lost sleep for yourself.

Have fun times with your baby. There are lots of great things you can do with your child. Here are some ideas:

  • Take baby swimming classes;
  • Play at the local playground;
  • Take a walk in the park;
  • Draw, paint or get creative with a craft project;
  • Set up play groups with other parents and their babies.

Join a local support or parents’ group. Joining a support group can be a good way to meet other young parents. A parents’ group can be a good place for you to get some support and for you and your child to make new friends. It can also be a great social activity for both of you.

Getting help. There might be times when being a parent can get you down. If you feel like things are overwhelming you, it might be helpful to talk with someone like a counselor, your local doctor or someone else you can trust. These people should be able to help you manage being a parent. Check out the Get Help section for more information about how these people may be able to help.

For more information

Sex, Etc. is an award-winning national magazine and website on sexual health that is written by teens, for teens.

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