Expectations run high when you have a baby. Everyone is delighted for you and expects you to feel on top of the world – after all, you have just given birth to a so-called ‘little bundle of joy’! But you have been on a rollercoaster ride of emotions and your hormones will take a while to settle back down so don’t be surprised if you find it harder to adjust than you expected.
Most new mum’s find they experience the ‘baby blues’ to some degree. It could be that you feel irritable and snappy or find yourself bursting into tears for no apparent reason.
Looking after a baby is a daunting responsibility, especially with your first child. Most people will agree that parenting is a job that nothing can prepare you for. Executive women running high profile conglomerate organisations can find themselves quivering wrecks through lack of sleep and even those who have already had babies can find that this time around is harder than they expected.
The good news is that in time your confidence will grow and you will establish a routine – probably without even realising it. The important thing is not to worry too much and to share some of the burden.
Find others in the same boat
Although it may feel like it sometimes, you are not alone. Around 1,500 – 2,000 others probably gave birth on the same day as you, in the UK alone. The chances are that they are feeling just the same as you do now. Catch up with people you met at ante-natal classes or in hospital, or join a mother and baby group. It may sound a daunting prospect but everyone is in the same boat and there is bound to be someone else there who is experiencing worse sleepless nights than you!
Don’t forget Dad
With all the attention on you, it is easy to slip into the belief that you are solely responsible for everything to do with the baby. Don’t exclude the father – he may feel helpless and although he may not know what to do at least let him try. He will work out his own way in the end and in the meantime you can grab a much needed bath/nap/catch up with friends.
Tiredness doesn’t help
Getting sleep with a new born around is easier said than done. Even if you can’t grab 40 winks when your baby does, use that time to relax. It will help rejeuvenate you for when your baby wakes up. And encourage your partner to share the night shift if possible. You can always express some milk beforehand and keep it in the fridge. Sleep in a separate room occasionally if it will mean one glorious night of uninterrupted sleep!
Expect more from your visitors
You may find yourself inundated with visitors, offering their congratulations and help. Take them up on the offer! Whether it’s just making the tea, holding the fort for an hour while you have a break or even asking them to pick up a take-away on their way round. The chances are they will be glad to help.
Thanks, but no thanks…
If now is not a good time for people to call/turn up at the door, don’t feel bad about politely putting them off until later. The same goes for those keen to dispel ‘useful’ advice which may be out-dated or inappropriate. Don’t just dismiss them out of hand, they only have your best interests at heart, but listen to what they have to say and then politely say you’ll think about that or that you are trying such and such method first but will bear their advice in mind.
Staying inside 24 hours a day is no good for you or your baby. The long stretch of the day can feel like forever. Get into the habit of wrapping up warm and taking your baby for a walk – the fresh air will do you both good and the exercise will help trigger endorphins (happy hormones) as well as helping to shift a few pounds.
From two to three
The dimensions of your family have suddenly changed but that doesn’t mean it should negatively affect your relationship with your partner. Having a baby should be a bond you have created between you, but don’t forget how you loved each other beforehand. Make a conscious effort to have some adult conversation that doesn’t revolve around your new addition and take time out to be a couple – whether it’s a trip to the pub, a ‘date’ together after work or even a romantic dinner at home when the baby has gone to bed.
If you do find that you are still struggling with no improvement, after a couple of weeks, don’t be afraid to talk to your GP or health visitor.