Congratulations, your baby is here and you are a parent!
You are probably learning fast that this beautiful new creature doesn’t come with any instructions and you may be feeling more than a little lost.
There are no easy solutions but it can be helpful to:
- Trust your instincts – cuddle, feed and carry your new baby to soothe and comfort. You will not be spoiling him, you will not be making a rod for your own back – you will be providing love, comfort and security.
- Give yourself time to get to know your baby and time to adjust to your new life. You both need time to get to know each other, so you can get used to how your baby is communicating with you through sounds, cries, movement and behaviour.
- Accept or ask for help – you do not need to be superwoman and feel that you need to do it all. If you need help or if you feel that you need a break for an hour or so – ask! You have not failed just because you need a hand.
- Support each other, if you part of a couple – when you are both tired, it is easy to squabble and to compare how tired you are or how much work each other has to do. Communicate and talk and give yourself some time – your new baby means you are adapting to life as a family, or as a growing family if this isn’t your first baby.
- Try to get out of the house most days, even just for a little while. Enjoy a change of scene – even just going for a walk will give you some fresh air and some exercise will can help to enhance feelings of wellbeing. It can also be helpful to seek out other mothers as well for support, shared experiences and some chat.
- Try to go with the flow. You are probably used to being in control of your day and a baby well and truly turns this upside down. On a great day you might feel like superwoman – you have met all your babies needs, you are dressed, you are also fed, you have cooked dinner and maybe done the washing and also fitted in a baby group too. On a-not-so-good day you might have a grumpy baby, who is hard to settle. You may have snacked on junk, couldn’t face the baby group, you could still be in your pj’s at 5pm and there’s no dinner planned or made. This is ok! Enjoy the good days and accept the not-so-good ones.
- Don’t forget you have just given birth – chances are your hormones are all over the place, so you may be feeling emotional, you may be sore and you are trying to get to grips with meeting the needs of a new human being.
- In those early few weeks, it may feel like you are doing very little but don’t underestimate how much effort it takes to look after a baby, especially on very little sleep. You are providing your baby with food, comfort, love and security to allow your baby to grow and develop. Ok, so maybe you don’t feel like you take on the world, let alone keep on top of the housework, cook and eat a meal but you are a mum and mum’s rock!
It can be an intense time of conflicting emotions – pride, love and fulfilment mixed with feeling lost and wondering what an earth you have done and struggling to work out what to do next? Becoming a parent can knock your confidence – you come from a life of solutions and with a baby you are making it up as you go along.
The first few months is a time of getting to know your baby, of learning to trust your instincts, of learning patience and of letting go of some control, along with more exhaustion than you ever thought possible.
The early days can be a time of working out feeding, sleeping and crying – and it can take a while to work out how to soothe your baby as well as what you need.
If you feel like you are struggling in the early days, weeks and months, try to remember…
- it is ok to ask for help and to call on some support
- sometimes there are no solutions, it’s just about time and riding it out
- your baby is not manipulating you
- this is a steep learning curve but it well get better
- this could be the most exhaustion you have ever felt but it will get better
- you will sometimes feel lost and unsure of your next step – this is normal and it doesn’t make you a bad parent
- it can feel like everything in your life has changed – this is also normal because everything has changed. Give yourself time to adapt to your new life and your new responsibilities
- baby books can have some useful ideas but they don’t have all the answers – if the books are making you stressed, put them away and focus on your baby instead. Watching and getting to know your baby will often provide more solutions than a book will
Mums need other mums
Mums need support and reassurance – I see this in my postnatal sessions. When you can talk and share what you are experiencing, you will usually find support and understanding from other mums – someone it that group will be or have been in the same situation as you.
Going along to some groups for mums and babies is vital because the alternative is being on your own with your baby – this can make you feel low and potentially consumed by feelings of inadequacy if you can’t settle your baby, if you feel like you are struggling to cope. Be with other mums and you may find that you are not on your own.
My weeks are spent supporting mums with new and young babies and I see the difference that getting out of the house makes – why sit at home on your own when you can get it off your chest, have a cuppa and have a cry if that’s what you need.
Every Wednesday afternoon there is Mother Cuppa for mums and babies; I run two baby massage courses a month as well as other postnatal sessions.
Just get in touch if you have any queries.
Janine | Birth, Baby & Family
A specialist in pregnancy, birth, babies and early parenting