Ever since our precious bundle of joy arrived our lives have changed dramatically..for the better. I actually can’t imagine my life without her and I’ve never felt so content and so blessed at the same time. My husband would also agree with me that we now feel like a complete family. My life has new meaning, a new purpose and she has enabled me to taste a different kind of love. She makes me want to be a better person and the perfect role model I can be and it’s cute how my husband struggles to go to work every morning and rushes home everyday. BUT, there is a but.. I’m not going to lie..it was difficult at the start. I guess the whole adjustment to our routine lifestyle, the sleepless nights, the not knowing what to do when baby cries, the breastfeeding problems, the tongue tie, the latch, the wind, the poo..the list goes on. Being first time parents, I felt like the experience came with a roller-coaster of emotions and here is a few tips that helped me get through those first 6-8 weeks.
1. It’s OK to cry
There is definitely something known as the ‘baby blues’ and this happened to me. First I felt a huge amount of excitement and adrenaline after the birth which lasted a few days. Once we arrived home, the reality started sinking in and a part of me felt anxious due to the massive responsibility I had to take care of for the rest of my life. This compounded with fatigue started getting to me and I remember just breaking down and crying. There is a medical explanation to the baby blues and its called hormones – so totally normal. However, it is very important to consult your GP if these feelings persist as you may be suffering from post-natal depression. Your GP will go through a checklist with you to make sure you are feeling OK.
2. Take each day as it comes
There is no such thing as a ‘routine’ in the initial weeks. There will be days where you will be up all night and sleeping throughout the day. That’s fine. Just take it as it comes and just do what it takes to SURVIVE. Don’t make it more complicated for yourself by trying to establish a routine so early. You can invest your energy into that later when things settle down.
3. Get your partner on board
I can’t stress this enough. Your hubbies support is so important and so needed. Get them to be involved as much as possible from Day 1 – give them the confidence that they can manage to do things without you – like changing a nappy and soothing baby. You will need time-out sometimes and this is when your hubby can step in. I would highly recommend paternal leave for a period of 7-10 days for extra help. At the end of the day, you didn’t make this baby on your own.
4. Sleep when the baby sleeps
People told me to do this when I was pregnant and I didn’t take it seriously. I regretted that soon after having a baby. But that’s ok because newborns thankfully sleep a lot. Use this as an advantage and sleep while baby sleeps. Be prepared for sleepless nights by sleeping when your baby has day naps. This will make things easier.
5. Accept all the help that you are offered and ask for help
This is not a time to be modest and god I am so thankful my mum was there for me during this period. You will not have time to cook and clean so when people come over ask them to bring food or do the washing. Those that are close to you will not get offended. My mum was seriously my arm and legs during this transition and it helped immensely. Don’t forget, you need to be in good condition first to be able to care for a newborn baby.
6. Know that the hard days will pass
I always knew it would get easier and it does. Every day gets better. You learn to adjust, you become more confident, you identify your babies cues and understand their temperament. It just takes some time. Don’t forget, this experience is overwhelming for baby too. They were in your womb for 10 months and are now exposed to the world. They are learning to live, to breathe, to eat & to sleep. It’s hard work for them too. Just keep telling yourself that things are going to get better and they will. I PROMISE!
7. Have a support network
Keep your friends close. Especially those that have had babies recently. They will get you and they will be able to answer your questions. If they have babies, they too will probably be up at 4am in the morning nursing or feeding. It makes you feel better that others are in the same boat and have gone through a similar experience.
8. Enjoy and embrace every moment
Like every tough experience this too will pass. Embrace those early days and hold your baby close. Do heaps of skin-to-skin contact. Babies love sleeping close to their mums and often on their chests because they can smell you and feel your heartbeat. That’s the only thing they are familiar with. Soon they will grow and be too big to sleep on your chest so enjoy every moment!
I hope these tips help you get through those initial 6-8 weeks.