The first few months after the birth of a child can be exhilarating and petrifying. A difficult birth, struggling with breastfeeding, sleepless nights, and lots of self-doubt can make this period especially hard for a new mother.
Here are 11 tips to help make life a little easier those first few months:
Sleep when the baby sleeps. Do not do chores, cook, clean, or check your email. As you place your baby down for a nap, immediately go to bed yourself. Every minute wasted doing something else is a minute less of precious sleep. If you are not breastfeeding, have a family member sleep over once in a while and take over night feedings while you get a full night’s sleep. Even one full night’s rest will make a world of difference.
Make sure you are getting the proper nutrition to restore yourself back to health and to make sure you are passing on nutrients to the baby if you are breastfeeding. Store lots of vegetables and fruit in the refrigerator for easy raw snacks. Find a healthy shop that sells fresh prepared foods – one that delivers is even better. Although it won’t save you money, it will save you lots of time and energy.
ASK FOR HELP
Ask relatives, friends and your partner for help, or get paid help if financially possible. Washing dishes, doing laundry, grocery shopping and cleaning the house should be handled by someone else. And if the house is messier than before, learn to accept it.
ASK SOMEONE TO WATCH BABY WHILE YOU SLEEP
I wish I had asked people to babysit while I took an uninterrupted nap during the day. Going back to my first point, it is great if you sleep when the baby sleeps, but if the baby wakes up after 20 minutes and you’ve just gotten into a deep sleep… it can be frustrating to say the least.
Go for a walk with or without the baby. It is OK to leave the baby at home for an hour with dad while you get back some “me” time.
This goes against #1, but when you can’t sleep, there is nothing better than watching back-to-back episodes of your favorite series. I watched 4 seasons of Downton Abbey the month after my daughter was born and it felt wonderful.
STAY PRESENT & OBSERVE YOUR BABY
Start tuning in to your baby’s expressions, sounds, movements to begin to understand what he’s trying to tell you. Your life and his will become easier as you both get to know each other. Take this opportunity to study him while he’s awake and asleep, and be grateful for the miracle you’re holding.
DON’T FORGET YOUR PARTNER
This period is also very difficult for your partner, so try to keep the love alive during this delicate time. Small gestures go a long way. Tell him you love him and kiss him as much as you do your baby.
PUT ON MAKEUP/DRESS UP
This may seem like a colossal task, but take 5-10 minutes to put on a little make-up, fix your hair and wear something other than your sweats. You’ll look better, feel better and probably make your partner happier, too.
Expect the first few months to be extremely difficult, both emotionally and physically. Many women have a romanticized view of life with their newborn, and for many mothers building a bond with their babies takes time. Remember that lower expectations equates to increased happiness.
GOOD DAYS AND BAD
Accept that every day is different and there will be some good days and some bad. Just because your baby slept 6 straight hours one night doesn’t mean he’ll do the same the next night. One day you may be an absolute wreck and cry and sulk, the next you may feel great. Just remember that if you’re having a bad day, the next day will probably be better.
Peggy was born and raised in New York City. In 2010 she decided to leave her banking job behind and travel the world. During her travels she met her husband and has since moved to Tuscany, got married and had a baby girl named Dafne. While breastfeeding Dafne, she was inspired to launch Teat & Cosset, a collection of wardrobe essentials to help nursing moms meet their breastfeeding goals. She loves to travel, dance, eat out and, above all, spend time with her family.
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