No matter how much advice we receive, or how many parenting books we read, nothing can fully prepare you for all the challenges of being a first-time mom. Caring for a newborn a wonderful experience, but it’s also mixed with exhaustion, panic, fear, frustration, sleep deprivation, uncertainty, and the baby blues. How do you survive the first weeks as you adjust to your new role and routine?
Every parent and every baby is different, so there’s no one solution – what works for one may not work for the other. Let me share my experience.
Remember you’re not alone
I consider myself as one of the luckiest new moms because of loving and supportive family members. Filipinos have very close family ties, and usually there’s a lola or a tita who’s ready to stay by your side and show you what to do. That proved very helpful, as I felt nervous and learned things one day at a time. It was very overwhelming, with so many “firsts” for both me and my baby, but I gained confidence because I was not alone.
If you don’t have family members to help you out, turn to mom friends or the online parenting community. You can also join a local parenting support group, so you can relate to them and at the same time learn from them.
Hillary Clinton said it takes a village to raise a child – and that village can be your family, friends, parenting forums and groups, and more.
Take Care of Yourself
Take care of yourself so you can take care of your baby. Getting enough rest is so important. Talk to your family about taking turns to watch the baby so you can get quality sleep. Give yourself at least 30 minutes a day to do something for yourself.
Samantha, now a mom of two, says whatever happened she would always put on lipstick. She had no time to do her makeup, but just applying a pretty color made her feel happier and more confident. Elaine, mom of a six-month-old, said she kept a basket of pampering items next to her breastfeeding chair. “I had music playlists and downloaded movies on my phone, snacks, White Flower for headaches, scented hand lotion. While my baby nursed, I tried to do something that would help cheer me up or make me feel better.”
Do things that make you feel like yourself again and in that way you’ll find yourself more capable of taking care of the new born. Don’t be so hard on yourself.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. In my case, I was so lucky since my family volunteered before I asked. However, sometimes people want to help but need to specifically be told how and when you need it. For example, tell your husband: “Watch the baby the whole Saturday afternoon, because I really need to get some sleep.”
Create a Routine and Ease into a Schedule
Getting your baby into routine helps you and your baby, since routines can be very comforting for your child. Try easing him into a regular sleep pattern by turning off lights at night, or using sleep cues like a warm bath or a lullaby.
Create a household schedule for cleaning, cooking, groceries, etc. Organize and keep supplies close to you. Schedules can also include assigning tasks so you don’t have to do everything yourself – and help you clear a block of time each week where you can focus on yourself.
Sleep beside your baby
Co-sleeping has scientific benefits, says Dr. Sears. Babies have deeper and more restful sleep, have more stable body temperatures and heart rhythms, lower risk for SIDS, and long-term emotional health. Just remove any choking or suffocation hazards (thick blankets, too many pillows).
Pay attention on your emotions
After birth, our hormone levels shift, which can lead to mood swings. Add the natural feelings of being a new mom (exhaustion, insecurity, anxiety) and you’re really in for an emotional ride! But there’s a difference between normal baby blues and post-partum depression. According to the Mayo Clinic, here are some signs that it needs medical attention:
- Severe mood swings
- Excessive crying
- Difficulty bonding with your baby
- Loss of appetite or extreme appetite
- Inability to sleep, or sleeping too much
- Overwhelming fatigue or loss of energy
- Feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, shame, guilt or inadequacy
- Severe anxiety and panic attacks
Enjoy the Baby
Enjoy every single day of the first four weeks and make memories. Take videos and photos and document some important happenings during this period. This first four weeks will pass quickly and you’ll miss it. Cherish every moment!
About The Writer
Ma. Lyzette Bongon or also known as Lhyzie Bongon online is a beauty, lifestyle and mommy blogger of www.lhyziebongon.com since 2011. She also owns, www.therainbowstar.net which is a health and finance blog. Aside from blogging, she is also working as a Virtual Assistant and Email Handler of a US based company. During her college days, she wanted to take up Computer Science major in Web Designing to enchance her passion and knowledge in blogging but ended up taking short courses related to web designing because she took up Bachelor of Science in Nursing at La Consolacion College-Manila.