Bringing home a new baby is a daunting process, made all the more difficult by the sudden lack of sleep, after-birth hormones and that slightly overwhelming realisation that you are responsible for a tiny person. This, together with the information we’re exposed to via social media and the pressure to do things the ‘right’ way, can make motherhood a very complicated place for new (or not so new) mums. Karina Lane from Mum Friday offers strategies to manage motherhood.
Wouldn’t it be nice to slow everything down so you can enjoy getting to know your baby and take your time adjusting to being a mum? By making your wellbeing a priority and keeping external stress to a minimum, you can focus on enjoying your baby during those precious first months.
How to cope with a new baby
1. Enjoy the cuddles
You’ve just had a baby: time to relax and relish in your little person. Newborns tend to be sleepy in those first few weeks, so feel free to sit and cuddle the day away, taking your time with feeds, making lots of lovely eye contact and marvelling over every inch of the little human you’ve just made.
2. Turn off social media
While having the internet world at our fingertips is great for keeping up-to-date on everything, it can also over-deliver on information, especially when it comes to the world of parenting. If you notice that going through your news feed leaves you overwhelmed and confused, consider logging out for the day.
3. Forget self-settling
Your baby doesn’t have the skills to self-settle for the first few months, so don’t buy into the pressure to get your baby sleep-trained if you’d rather cuddle, feed or rock to sleep. Trying to encourage your baby to master a skill that he’s too young to learn is likely to cause you stress more than anything else.
4. Put the baby book down
The problem with some baby books is that they’re geared towards a general group of babies, which may not always include yours, so trying to apply advice to your circumstances can end up frustrating. If you’ve got a baby book that’s causing you any angst at all, I suggest you put it in a box and bury it in a cupboard somewhere. The last thing you need is anxiety and stress caused by a textbook that doesn’t get you or your baby.
5. Trust your instincts
When you become a mum, you’ll get advice about parenthood every which way you turn. Some of it will sit right and some of it will feel plain wrong to you. This is the time to listen to your instincts – as your baby’s mother, you know best. Resist the pressure to parent a certain way, especially if it doesn’t fit within your own parenting philosophy.
6. Be kind to yourself
Being kind to yourself means looking after yourself nutritionally and ensuring you get rest when you can, but it also refers to the expectations you set for yourself. When we set the bar too high, we’re likely to fall short and end up criticising ourselves. The truth is, none of us are super-mums and aiming to be one is an unrealistic and unnecessary pursuit.
7. Get out and about
Routine doesn’t matter much for the first few months of a baby’s life. Before you become housebound by nap times, use the freedom to go out for long walks and show your baby the world. While away the morning in a café as your baby naps in the pram. Lie on a picnic blanket and look up at the sky together. You’ll find the fresh air is great for getting rid of cobwebs and also allows the two of you some special bonding time.
8. Reach out when you need to
For some reason, we mums find it really hard to put our hands up for help when the going gets tough. The ‘just get on with it’ mentality means a lot of us struggle silently and never get the support we need, which is a shame because it can sap the joy out of motherhood. Reaching out to a trusted person or service for help can make life as a mum more manageable – and more enjoyable.
Karina is a parenting writer and the founder of Mum Friday, a mobile service for mums that provides face to face therapeutic support and practical assistance with raising babies. A mother of four, she is passionate about motherhood wellbeing and embracing the parenting journey for all its ups and downs. Above all, she believes motherhood should be magic. For more information visit the website or Facebook.