Survival tips for new mums
For all of our new mamas getting very overwhelmed by the crazy first part of life with a new baby, I thought we experienced mamas might like to share some survival tips and reassurance because I am sure we can all vividly remember the emotional turmoil first time around as you try to come to grips with this huge life event and all that ensues …
Here are my tips, feel free to post with yours.
Chin up new mamas! You are all doing better than you think right now
It really does get easier and much sooner than you think!! You’ll still have rough patches every now and then but the first six weeks are particularly intense (it doesn’t magically get better at 6 weeks, it’s just some of the fog seems to lift). I remember feeling like I was being sucked into a time warp when day melded into night into day again … Wash and repeat. It was such an awful feeling and I too didn’t know if I could continue. But time passes and before you know it you are just doing it and it’s second nature and easier.
My first was and still is to an extent an interesting sleeper so I got to know sleep deprivation on a level most people will never experience. I simply had to find ways to cope because nothing I did helped my baby sleep longer so all I could do was keep him as calm as possible and get him sleep the way he needed because a calm baby kept me calmer.
For my own survival, here’s what I did to survive those early weeks…
1. Rally the troops!! Get as much help as you can for every task that doesn’t involve baby- cooking, cleaning, shopping, toddlers, errands.
2. Hand baby over when it gets too much and have a nice long shower and wash your hair or shave your legs and put on some fresh clothes that aren’t all milky
3. Wear you baby in a carrier if you are sick of sitting still, otherwise get comfy on the couch and watch your favourite box set while babe snoozes or feeds for the 50th time that hour (cluster feeding is normal, I repeat, cluster feeding is normal).
4. This one is one of the things that helped me most … stop looking at the clock!!! Stop working out how long since you last fed, how long you fed, how long babe is asleep, how many hours sleep you got … Do NOT keep calculating how long you are awake at night!! It only makes you feel more tired because psychologically that’s where your focus is. Babies typically (definitely not all but often) sleep their longest stint first up and then the stints get shorter and shorter as the night goes on. Get yourself ready for bed before you think bubs might be done for the night so you can jump right in to bed and soak up as much of the long stint as possible (I know you are craving some adult time alone, but just for now submit to this and it will help).
5. Bedsharing!! I can not stress how much more rest you get when you are not physically getting up or trying not to stay sitting up and awake. You can stay drowsy and go through the motions … This really helped me combat the crazy insomnia I developed from getting up to and tending to my first for the first 6 months of his life. I felt like a new woman.
I have been bedsharing and co sleeping (cot mattress next to me)from the start this time. It can be done safely and well worth looking into.
6. If breastfeeding hurts or you are concerned about how your baby is feeding or your supply please seek advice from a Lactation Consultant (ideally a IBCLC- International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) or call the free Australian Breastfeeding Association hotline. Very few GPs and paediatricians have had up to date training in breastfeeding and as a result can head you in the wrong direction. Breastfeeding does take time to become ‘easy’ and there will be times when you feel like babe has been on the boob for more hours in the day than not but that’s all normal as they establish supply. Continued pain and damaged nipples are NOT normal, seek help as soon as you can.
7. Eat nutritious food and drink LOADS of water. Let people wait on you hand and foot. You are recovering and your body is going through huge changes (physical and emotional). Give yourself the grace to sit back and relax whenever you can. Everything else truly can wait!
8.Vent and move on. Don’t forget to look into your baby’s eyes and appreciate the beautiful soul you have created and who isn’t trying to make life hard but just needs you so much right now.
9. This too shall pass, it’s all a phase and you will never regret the time and love invested in your child. Allow yourself the time to grieve your old child free life. It doesn’t mean you love your baby any less if you miss that beautiful, peaceful calm life that you could control before you had your baby. Grieving is all part of the birth of a Mother.
10. Trust your instincts! You know your baby best, not some book, or a relative, friend or even professionals …You will doubt this (I remember thinking that at one point maybe I did not have any maternal instinct at all) but I guarantee in hindsight you will find what you thought your baby needed is what they needed … Be it more boob, more cuddles, more sleep, less sleep and more hanging out, help medically … Trust your gut.
Your baby has never been here before and therefore no one knows them better than you. You are learning and growing together. Go easy on yourself new mama, you’ll find your feet. Until then feel free to feel all the emotions- the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. They are all real, they are valid and you are doing just fine.
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