Surviving Early Motherhood

Surviving Early Motherhood

Did you have beautiful visions of cosying up with your new-born in a fuzzy glow of love and warmth as you breeze through the first few weeks of your baby’s life? What we expect from the first few weeks of motherhood and the reality is often somewhat skewed.

Yes, it will be amazing, life changing and wonderful however sometimes it will also be exhausting, overwhelming, confusing and possibly upsetting.

The trick to enjoying the first few weeks of your baby’s life is to keep your expectations at a reasonable level. Accept that the beautiful moments will be a little tainted through lack of sleep, your own pain following the labour, and perhaps anxiety at being a new mum.

There’s possibly nothing like walking out those hospital doors, as you and your new family make your way home to start your new life together – it’s extraordinarily exciting. Then there’s arriving home and laying your new beautiful child down in his cot for the first time. There’s definitely something magical about having your new baby at home – in an instant your life, your home, your future is transformed.

For a lot of mums, a new reality check also tends to hit home around this time. Until now, you’ve felt prepared. You’ve bought all the must-haves, read the books, been to the antenatal classes and now it’s time to actually live the plan…and you’re a nervous wreck. Here are a few tips to help you navigate the first few days and weeks:

1. Be Organised

Having all the new baby paraphernalia, such as bath, changing table etc. to hand will makes things a lot easier. Spending a little time before the baby arrives reading up on breastfeeding, bottle feeding and bathing will make life easier when faced with the task with a baby crying at the top of his lungs. Having your partner well-versed in all the ins and outs of looking after a small baby before they arrive is a good idea also, so they can offer as much support as possible. Also try and be organised with practicalities such as pre-cooked meals in the freezer, list of numbers of “emergency contacts” on the fridge (include contacts that you wouldn’t normally have to hand or had a need for before, such as – breastfeeding support lines, health visitor contact etc) the easier you can make everything surrounding your new family during that time the better. Convenience is key!

2.Get Help

While you might have envisioned yourself maintaining your domestic goddess status after your baby arrives, cleaning won’t be an option for a couple of weeks. In fact, it will probably be the last thing on your mind – so either get comfortable with the inevitable mess, enlist family or friends to help clean, or hire a cleaner for a week or two. You deserve it!

3. Eat Well

Keeping you and your partner’s energy up with nutritious meals is a must. Good nutrition will help with your healing, is essential for breastfeeding, and will help to keep you going when you’re lacking in sleep. Having friends or your partner cook some healthy meals and freezing them in advance of the baby’s arrival will prove to be a real lifesaver (see point 1!).

4. Block Out The World

Allow yourself time to cuddle and just be with your little baby, without trying to think of ‘things to do’. There’ll be so much time in a few weeks to start revving up into your old organised self, but for now, let go and be content to just lie/ sit with your baby while you both get to know each other. Like any new meeting you will need time to get to know your baby and develop that relationship, take the time to nurture that experience.

5. Sleep, Sleep, Sleep!

As tempting as it is to have some ‘you’ time when baby’s napping, getting some sleep yourself is always the better option. Napping as much as you can throughout the day ensures you won’t get exhausted and over-wrought. Make some time for yourself to have that candlelit bath or a read in the evenings when your partner’s at home and can give you a break.

6. Hibernate

Many women think they’ll immediately want to show their baby off to friends and family, but for many new mums, the very idea of someone else encroaching on their little haven feels like a violation. Try not to feel any pressure to see anyone, and certainly don’t feel like you have to act the host should you have visitors. Give yourself space and wait until you feel ready to start seeing people, friends and family will understand.

7. Ride The Rollercoaster

Your emotions are probably going to be all over the place for the first few weeks after giving birth. There’s those post pregnancy hormones to deal with, in addition to the upheaval of having a new person in your life, not to mention the physical and emotional recovery of giving birth. So it’s ok not to feel happy all the time – in fact, it’s completely normal to feel a little down at times. The new sense of responsibility can also be overwhelming, so take it easy on yourself – mentally and physically. Do try to stay vigilant of your moods if you’re tending to feel low for more than a week or two at a time – you could be suffering from postnatal depression and require more support. Tell others how you’re feeling – they may be able to help in some way and speak to your health visitor, midwife or gp if you do need extra support.

8. Try Not To Sweat It

It’s very likely that you and your partner will become obsessed and/or anxious surrounding some aspect of your baby’s routine. For some, it’s pacing up and down your sitting room with baby over your shoulder in a desperate bid to get that last bit of wind up so everyone can go to sleep. For others, it’s the incessant rocking to get your baby to sleep. Whatever it is, know that this too will pass as the weeks and months go on. And finally, I know this will be told to you until you are blue in the face but things really do get easier!


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