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Baby-Proof Your Sanity: 6 Parenting Tips

4. Accept Help

Stein tells WebMD that women who have insufficient help may feel overwhelmed by "the daily, unrelenting chores of new motherhood." She says this can increase the risk of postpartum depression. For a less stressful adjustment to life with a baby, "family should be encouraged to help, and paid help should also be considered."

Wishner says, in addition to accepting food from neighbors and friends, she devised a few shortcuts to reduce chore time. "I'm not one who likes to do a lot of laundry, so I have enough clothes and sheets to last me two weeks."

5. Maintain a Social Life

"It is too easy to become focused at an infant or toddler level of interaction and stop being an adult," Shapiro says. Making plans with other adults, particularly new parents who understand what you are going through, can prevent feelings of isolation and give you an emotional support system.

Wishner says she finds it helpful to spend time with other first-time moms she met through a prenatal yoga class. "We get together at least weekly and do [mother-baby] classes and stay busy," she tells WebMD. She adds that she benefits not just from receiving support, but from providing it as well. "It helps me to feel needed, knowing that these women who are new friends look to me for support."

6. Spend Time With Your Partner

If you have a spouse or partner, "fight to spend some time together," Kovacs advises. Hire a babysitter, enlist the help of relatives, do whatever it takes to get an occasional evening out for an intimate dinner or a long walk. "Don't let the relationship idle," he warns. "Weeds will grow."

Staying close to your partner is not only vital to your health and the future of your relationship, "it is the very best thing you can give your child," according to Shapiro, who is the author of The Measure of a Man: Becoming the Father You Wish Your Father Had Been. We'll have more on strengthening your relationship in Part 3 of our series.

If You're Over 40...

If you're having your first child as a 40-something, the transition to parenthood is likely to be harder in some ways, easier in others. As Shapiro puts it, you'll have less energy but more patience.

Kovacs agrees. "There's nothing like life wisdom that prepares people for having a child. You don't have as much physiological stamina, but you're much better prepared emotionally."

Wishner, who is 41, has found she is the support person for younger moms, but she doesn't think her age is a factor. "I don't think I would have felt differently if I had done this 10 years ago," she says, adding, "I've wanted a child all my life. This was the biggest dream I ever had, and now I have it. So emotionally, I'm in heaven."

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Reviewed on October 27, 2008

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