New research has revealed the extent to which UK parents are feeling unprepared for the arrival of their new-born baby, despite having information and advice more readily available than ever before.

A third (32%) of parents in the UK say they didn’t feel prepared for the arrival of their newborn baby, according to new research by The Baby Show with MadeForMums**.

The research revealed that new parents in the UK were most likely to list lack of sleep as the worst thing about having a newborn. Post-delivery pain found to be the second worst thing about becoming a new parent – with 41% of mothers saying that the pain was worse than expected. A lack of time alone was listed as the third.

Chireal Shallow, sleep expert and speaker at The Baby Show, offered this advice: “Think about your state; are you calm, relaxed and ready to charm your baby to sleep? Your baby picks up on your mood, your body language and your mental state so if you are feeling anxious or stressed, then so is your baby. In order to help your child, you first need to examine yourself and change how you feel and in turn, your baby will mirror your state.”

The new research also revealed that the lack of time alone as a new parent meant that more than half (53%) of respondents were staying in their house for more than three days in a row. 39% said they stayed in their pyjamas for days at a time and over a third (37%) went more than two days without showering.

More worryingly, 14% of parents are resorting to asking Google for advice – this is more than the amount that would seek help from their health visitor or GP. On top of this, nearly half (48%) of new parents in the UK use a family member as a first port of call for help with their newborns. A third (34%) of new parents would sooner ask their parents for help rather than their partners.

Milli Hill, author of The Positive Birth Book and speaker at The Baby Show taking place this week said: “Having realistic expectations is really the most important preparation you can do for a new baby.  Talk to other mothers about their baby’s sleep patterns and their coping tips. Talk to your partner about how you might both approach nighttime parenting. Try to put as much support in place for those first few weeks as you can, for example by building a stock of frozen meals you can easily prepare when you’re too tired to do anything else, and by asking relatives to gift you a few hours of cleaning instead of another baby toy that you could probably live without!”

The difficulties that occur during the early months of raising a newborn can be overwhelming; however there is little doubt that it is all worth it! The research showed witnessing the growth and development of a baby was found to be the number one best thing about having a baby. The unconditional love it offers was revealed to be the second best and seeing a baby smile for the very first time the third.

Milli Hill also added: “It’s undeniable that there are lots of ups and downs when you become a new parent but it’s so important to talk about how you’re feeling and ask for help if you need it.  New parents can be very tough on themselves, worrying if they are getting it ‘right’, but remember, if your baby is safe and loved, you are doing an amazing job. Our babies think we are wonderful – we sometimes need to learn to appreciate ourselves as much as they do!”

The Baby Show with MadeForMums, the UK’s leading pregnancy and parenting event series, took place last weekend at the NEC Birmingham.

** The research was undertaken in January 2017, based upon the feedback of 1,000 new mums and dads.

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