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Being a young parent

Having a baby and becoming a parent is life changing. It can bring great joy but it can feel overwhelming and lonely at times.

Sometimes young parents are judged unfairly and face discrimination – even if they’re doing a great job. You may feel like people don’t trust you to make decisions that affect your baby. Meeting other young parents and having someone to talk with can help.

Your feelings

Many people feel intense love for their babies, but others struggle to bond or feel they can't cope.

Being at home with a crying baby is hard. If your baby’s crying makes you feel overwhelmed or angry:

  • Put them down in a safe place and go into a different room for 10 minutes to calm down.
  • If you’re feeling like this, tell your partner, a friend or health professional immediately so that they can help you get the support you need.
  • If your baby’s cry sounds different to normal, or if they have other symptoms, contact your doctor in case they are unwell.

Post-natal depression is a type of depression that many parents – including fathers – experience after having a baby.

Signs to look for:

  • persistent feeling of sadness and low mood
  • lack of enjoyment and loss of interest in the wider world
  • lack of energy
  • trouble sleeping at night, feeling sleepy during the day
  • difficulty bonding with your baby
  • withdrawing contact with other people
  • difficulty concentrating and making decisions
  • frightening thoughts – for example, about hating or hurting your baby

Post-natal depression is gradual and often goes unrecognised for a long time and can last for years. Talk to someone if you notice these signs.

Your relationships

Caring for a baby can put stress on the strongest relationships. Many women feel exhausted and have little time and energy to do anything other than look after their baby. Some men may feel upset that their partner seems to have no time or interest in them anymore. Talk about how you’re both feeling and find ways to spend quality time together, despite the challenges of a new baby.

Parenting can also be hard when you have different ideas about how to bring up a child, especially if you’re living with your parents or in-laws, as they may act like they know best. Try and involve them in a positive way, but make it clear that you make decisions about how they’re brought up.

Getting support

Reach out to trusted family members or meet other young parents. This will help you feel less lonely.

Young Parents Scenario

Ani gave birth to a daughter 3 months ago. She lives with her husband in her parent-in-laws' compound. Ani has been feeling very lonely and sad with no support from her own family and her husband’s mother has been blaming her and insulting her for not producing a son and criticising everything she does. She has been breastfeeding but her mother-in-law says her milk is weak and she should put the baby on bottled milk so she can be stronger. Ani’s husband has asked Ani just to ignore her as he has no work and no money, and they rely on the family to support them. Ani is so unhappy and afraid to be left alone with her mother-in-law but doesn’t want to cause problems for her husband.

What should Ani do?

Select one