When you imagine life with a new baby, do you picture a softened image with mom sitting in a rocking chair next to a sunlit window covered with gauzy curtains with a sleeping baby in her arms and an angelic smile on her face? While having a new baby is a wonderful life event, the nitty-gritty, day-to-day details are maybe not so glamorous.
Babies change everything. While your pre-baby life may have been organized and routine, your life now is anything but that. It’s 4pm and you’re still in your pajamas and haven’t yet brushed your teeth. You’re hungry but have no idea what you’ll fix for dinner, or if you even have the energy to cook. You want to go to sleep but know baby will wake any minute. Instead of resting, you’ve used this naptime to catch up on returning emails. What now?
You may need to make some adjustments to help you cope. Here’s what you can do to survive the early days with your newborn:
- Sleep when baby sleeps: don’t use naptime to catch up on chores, sleep instead. If you can’t sleep, at least rest. Dim the lights, turn on quiet music, and close your eyes.
- Limit visitors in the early weeks: everyone wants to see a new baby, but playing hostess can be tiring. If you do have guests, stay in your pajamas as a cue that they’re not to stay long. Consider asking friends and family to pitch in with the work you can’t get done – ask them to tidy up the dishes in the sink or put in a load of laundry.
- Eat well and stay hydrated: keep a drink at hand, as well as lots of healthy snacks you can eat with one hand (while holding baby in the other!)
- Get some exercise and fresh air: even if you simply stand on your back porch for 10 minutes, the fresh air will do you good. If you’re up for it, take a short walk around your neighborhood with baby in a sling or stroller. Baby may sleep longer, and it may be easier for you to rest afterwards.
- Be gentle on yourself: let go of rules and expectations about life with baby. You’re just learning – even if you have older children, this baby has a completely new personality you need to learn.
- Remember your relaxation exercises: if you took a childbirth class and learned breathing exercises or other forms of relaxation, practice them now, too.
- Communicate with your partner: don’t let small resentments flourish. Instead talk about anything that’s bothering you.
- Find peer support: find a mom and a baby playgroup, a breastfeeding support group, or just go to the park or library children’s department and make the effort to talk to other moms.
- Get help: whether you need help with housekeeping, baby care, depression, or breastfeeding, find the right support person. Your childbirth educator, lactation consultant, midwife or obstetrician are all good sources of information for what’s available in your community.
Most of all trust yourself and enjoy your baby! You don’t have to get everything ‘right’ – parenting isn’t a test. Pretty soon things will start to settle into a more predictable routine, and those early days and weeks will be a blur you look back on with fondness.
Written by Michelle, childbirth instructor, lactation consultant, and mother to 4 busy kids
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a trained medical doctor. Health & Parenting Ltd disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information, which is provided to you on a general information basis only and not as a substitute for personalized medical advice. All contents copyright © Health & Parenting Ltd 2016. All rights reserved.