Why Having a Newborn Feels Like More Than a Full Time Job

July 3, 2018

Before you have your first baby, everyone likes to tell you just how much it is going to change your life. Nothing, NOTHING, though, can fully prepare you for that reality ahead of time though. While in your mind it makes sense that becoming a parent and caring for a tiny new human would be a full time job, why does it sometimes feel SO shocking just how exhausting it actually is?

Why does it feel like I can barely meet my own basic needs?

Because up until this point, your full time job has been caring for just one human being. And you might have underestimated just how consuming the logistics of caring for another {largely helpless!} human being can be! Sure, we know that being a parent is a 100%, round-the-clock job. But have you considered what the actual break down of practical WORK involved in caring for a newborn is? Here are the basics:

Eating

The average newborn needs to eat every 2-3 hours, around the clock, and feedings, at least at first, may last 15-25 minutes each. That's an average of about 3 hours and 20 minutes of just feeding per day. And that's if you aren't having to factor in bottle prep or cleaning, or pumping.

Soothing

Newborns communicate through body movement and sounds, and that includes crying. On average, they will spend around 2 hours per day crying, and that's if your baby doesn't suffer from colic, or have medical issues that make them a little more fussy than average.

Diaper & Clothing Changes, etc.

At first, babies need to be changed about as frequently as they are being fed. So on average, that is about 10 times per day, give or take. At about 5 minutes JUST for the change itself, that's close to an hour a day just on diaper changes. Factor in outfit changes {which might be 2-4 times a day considering diaper blow outs and spit up explosions}, and other routine cleaning and care, it might be closer to about 2 hours per day just on this one logistic alone. And you thought YOU were high maintenance!

Sleep

Ah, sweet sleep! You have probably heard that newborns sleep on average 16-18 hours per day. So why does it feel like those precious quiet moments to yourself are so few and far between? For one thing, those hours are broken up into 15 minute cat naps, up to an hour or two at a time. Day AND night. While many newborns will give you at least one 4 hour stretch, the rest of the day will be a lot of up and down. Just when you have gotten yourself settled for a snooze, or put together a bite for yourself, or caught a quick shower, they are up and ready for your attention again.

And the grand total is...

All said and done, an average newborn will demand roughly 7 hours of just plain, logistical care per day, which is around 50 hours per week. Add in your own nutritional, self-care, and sleep needs, plus the basic household chores to keep things going, and that's a solid 130+ or so hours spent per week (out of 168 total hours!) just trying to keep everyone alive and healthy. And that's if everything is average, and you just have one baby to care for. *Whew* It can be exhausting just thinking about it.

Yes, you will also LOVE your baby, and enjoy spending time with him or her. There will also be moments that feel like more work than fun, and as you can see, that's perfectly normal too. The early weeks of parenting really are kind of a survival mode for everyone: parents, older children, and babies included.

The good news is, you don't have juggle it all.

Some families have a good network of friends and family to help them with the logistics: not just feeding you and giving you a self-care break, but the other stuff too like grocery shopping, running errands, doing the basic household chores. Many families too are enjoying the help of a Postpartum Doula to not just help meet the short-term logistical needs, but to also help them delve into their longer-term needs and goals as a family, and start to implement new routines. Postpartum doulas can stay the night to help you get more sleep, or can stay for the day to help alleviate some of the work, and all of the emotions that come along with it, so that you can focus more on healing, and connecting with your baby and your family! They can also listen to your family's priorities, sort through all the conflicting advice out there, and find solutions that will work best for your family.