Parental guilt is a real thing, so don’t think that you’re alone in feeling it. You’re not – we all do!
Jessa & Jarryd, Australia
"Because we’re first-time parents, we decided to take a positive birthing course during pregnancy which informed most of our expectations of what the birth would be like for the both of us and what could possibly happen – both good and bad.
The birth of our son Kokoda was overall a really positive experience. It was fast, painful, magical, and intense. My waters broke at home at 37 weeks, and we headed to hospital. I had an unmedicated vaginal birth which was something that I was passionate about trying.
The whole thing took about 11 hours, but I did struggle to deliver my placenta afterwards, so the hospital staff had to help with that. In the end, we both came out of it super proud, and still look back fondly on it. I (Jarryd) was – and still am – totally in awe of Jessa.
Our expectations of having a newborn before Kokoda arrived were that we would never sleep, that he would cry constantly, and we wouldn’t know how to soothe him. I (Jarryd) was especially nervous about how small and fragile the baby was going to be, and he was so tiny! Surprisingly, we get much more sleep than we thought, but we didn’t realise that he would need so much sensory stimulation when he’s still so little. So, we’re working on developing his sight, hearing, and touch week to week.
Since having Kokoda, I (Jarryd) feel like I’ve changed as an individual. Both in terms of self-awareness, and awareness of my new little family and their needs. There’s been a total change in how my days go and what I think about from one hour to the next.
I (Jessa) have become more sensitive. I get emotional when watching certain TV shows, perhaps that’s because I now have a baby, or because of postpartum hormones, or a bit of both! As I’ve become more pushed for time, I think I’m more direct, and perhaps a little impatient.
We are so lucky to have the support of our family to lean on if we need a break. Our relationships with our friends and family members have changed, but for the better. We’re closer than ever with our grandparents, and our siblings are so excited for us. Some of our friends have welcomed little ones at the same time as us and it’s so lovely to share that experience with them.
We’re both really proud parents, we worked hard to get here! If we were going to give advice to other new parents, we’d say if you keep trying and put things in place to enable you to do the best you can, then you’re a good parent. Parental guilt is a real thing, so don’t think that you’re alone in feeling it. You’re not – we all do!
My (Jessa) body has changed since giving birth in lots of ways, and in terms of self-care, I’ve been on a bit of a journey. I am breastfeeding, so my boobs are bigger and very tender! I thought that I would have more stretchmarks, but they never came which actually disappointed me a little because I think they’re beautiful!
I am trying to get back into a light fitness regime by walking, stretching and doing my pelvic floor exercises. I also try to eat well and keep hydrated. Overall, I really love my postpartum body, and I love being a mum! I think I underestimated how much having a baby would influence my mental health. Before having Kokoda, I assumed that I’d have it all under control, but it has affected me. I often have days when I feel really frustrated.
For me (Jarryd), my mental health journey since Kokoda arrived has been surprising. There have been aspects that I wasn’t expecting. Before becoming a dad, I was really relaxed, but now my patience is a lot thinner, and I sometimes panic if I’m unsure what to do in a certain situation.
It’s all about talking to each other and offering support when you can! We are thinking about signing up for a mental health plan in the future because it never hurts to go and chat to someone. If an issue feels big to you and is playing on your mind, then it’s something that deserves attention."
If this content reminds you of your own experiences or makes you think of someone you know and you feel concerned or uncomfortable, please head to the PSI website for information about perinatal mental health resources that may be able to help.