Surviving the first few weeks and months as a new mother
If you are in the first few weeks or months after the arrival of your first baby, please read on! Many new mothers (and fathers) are SO hard on themselves, feel completely overwhelmed, and don’t know where to start. Here are a few thoughts to get you started:
Remember (for the birth mother), you are still recovering for a while following the birth. You will feel uncomfortable and different – your body has just gone through something incredible. Don’t try to spring back, and you’re not meant to right away!
Accept any and all caretaking – whether that’s by your own mother, your spouse, or a friend. Be specific on what kind of support would help if you know what that is; maybe it’s meals, maybe it’s 20 minutes of watching your baby so that you can have a shower. If you’d had major knee surgery, you would probably let people help you, right? The same idea applies here.
Make sleep (although usually disjointed) a priority – naps may become not only your new best friend but also your lifeline. The dishes can wait. And remember in the early days, your nights are your days and your days are your nights (that’s your baby will think at least!) I repeat – daytime naps will be key for many new mothers.
Spring for convenience when you need it in those early days. Be it hiring someone to come and clean, buying takeout occasionally, or if you are at your wit’s end with regards to sleep and you need to enlist a sleep consultant, don’t be afraid to admit defeat! This is not the time for ego 😊
Know that you won’t feel like you know what you’re doing for a while. But your instincts will come, trust those and when you don’t know what to do, your best guess is going to have to do. If it doesn’t work, try something else. Let the guessing game begin!
On the above note, lower your expectations for yourself during this time. And then lower them again! This isn’t permanent, it’s survival.
At the beginning, limit visitors to only your closest friends and family. Schedule these visits as brief and staggered at the beginning and open things up as you develop a bit of a routine.
if you need to. I change my mind, don’t wait until you NEED to. Just do it. This could be as simple as sending a text to a friend. Many people tend to stay away because they don’t want to intrude or do not know that you are having a hard time.
Give yourself (and your partner) a big pat on the back for what you’ve accomplished. So keep the compliments flowing and be generous with forgiveness!
Know that it’s very common for couples to see A LOT more conflict during this transition. It’s such a hard time for any relationship. So don’t panic, but do what you can to limit destructive behaviour on your end. Just remember the big picture and know that it will get easier with time, as you both find your way through (and start to get more sleep!). If there are damaging dynamics happening, take ownership, and then try a different way.