The early days with a baby are about as exhausting as life gets.
It doesn’t matter whether it’s your first baby or your fourth, you’ll find your life thrown into turmoil as you try to adjust to your new normal.
For something so small, that baby sure will cause a lot of upheaval. Getting used to life as a mama would be hard enough but you’ll also be healing and recovering after the birth.
10 Things You Need To Do When You Have A Newborn
With an empty, doughy bump still taking centre stage where your tummy once was, you can be forgiven for not feeling quite like yourself.
It doesn’t matter how long you waited for the baby or how desperate you were to meet him, once he’s here, you’re likely to find things a little strange as you settle into your new role as mama.
It doesn’t matter how gorgeous the colour scheme you chose for the nursery is or how neatly ironed all those adorable little sleepsuits are, you’re still going to have quite a few WTF moments over the next few weeks…months…years…
Here are 10 things you can do to make that transition to your new life a little easier:
#1: Go Easy On Yourself
Nobody waltzes out of hospital with their brand new baby feeling like they have it together. Every new parent has that moment of panic where they can’t quite believe they’re being left in charge of a human being. Me? Really? You can do this. You don’t have to be a leading expert in infant care to be a great mama.
It doesn’t matter how many nappies you put on backwards, how many times you make your baby cry whilst trying to make him laugh, or how many things you have to Google, you’ve got this. Your baby loves and needs you more than anyone else in the world.
#2: Get Plenty Of Rest
Babies get a bad rep when it comes to sleep, but newborns actually sleep a lot. Your baby might sleep for 18 hours a day (in the day, obviously, not at night when you’re trying to catch some zzz’s). It will take him a while to adjust to night and day so try to catch up on your sleep during the day.
Limit your daytime commitments (or blow them all off, you just had a baby, you can get away with anything) so you can nap when the baby sleeps. You’ll need your energy for staying awake at night because that beautiful baby of yours is likely to be an all-night party animal for the first week or so.
#3: Put Yourself Second
Remember the days of putting yourself first? Ha. Well, right now, your baby is going to take first place. Mostly because he can cry louder than you so he wins everytime. Your baby will be pretty demanding when it comes to feeds, cuddles and sleep but that doesn’t mean you have to let your own needs fall by the wayside.
You need to take care of yourself in order to take care of your baby. You need time to recover from the birth so don’t try to do too much. Focus on your essential needs – food, sleep and…sleep!
#4: Be Strict About Visitors
You just created the world’s most amazing human being so it’s only natural you want to show him off, but don’t do it at the expense of your sanity. Visitors will wait.
As soon as you announce the birth, you’ll be inundated with messages from friends and family members wanting to call round and meet the newest member of the family. You don’t need to have them over straight away, it’s fine to reply and say you’ll be in touch soon.
Wait until you’re ready to have people traipsing through your house. When you do start having visitors, try to limit the number of people visiting and the length of their visits, so you still have plenty of time for rest.
#5: Tell Your Partner How He Can Help You
It’s not just you who’s adjusting to life as a parent, your partner is probably on an emotional rollercoaster of his own. He’s likely to be feeling just as overwhelmed and tired and terrified as you. He wants to help but probably doesn’t know how.
Make things easier for him by telling him exactly what you need. He can be in charge of cooking meals, doing the shopping and keeping the house tidy, while you take care of the baby. By looking after you, he can make those early weeks a little easier for you.
But don't forget to let him take over for cuddles when you need to sleep/eat/shower. This gives you partner a chance to bond and develop his own confidence in parenting. Find out more about how dads can help in Dad And Baby – Baby Bonding Tips For Dads.
#6: Be Honest With Your Care Provider
Your care provider is there to help you. If you’re struggling with breastfeeding, let them know. They can’t provide support if they don’t know you need it.
If you’re struggling with low moods or negative thoughts, be honest about this as well. Your care provider has the experience and know how to help you so it’s important to communicate your needs. There is plenty of support out there for new mamas but you have to ask for it.
If you’re struggling to say what you need, ask your partner to be present when you meet your care provider so he can start the conversation.
#7: Treat Your Body Like A Temple
Your body has been through a lot over the last nine months. Growing a human isn’t easy and you have the stretch marks to prove it. The birth is likely to have put your body under strain, too. Your body is busy contracting back down, your hormones are all over the place and your energy levels are probably drained after giving birth. You may also be recovering from a tear from giving birth.
It will take time for your body to recover. To speed things up, it’s important to take care of yourself. Eat a healthy, balanced diet rich in fibre to make going to the bathroom a little easier. Find out why this is a good idea in The First Postpartum Poop – 10 Things You Need To Know.
Make sure you eat plenty of fresh greens, vegetables and fruits. Drink plenty of water and rest when you can. Your body just did something amazing, take good care of it.
#8: Expect All The Emotions
Welcoming a new baby is a big deal. It changes everything and leaves you reeling for normality. You’re tired, overwhelmed and, as if that wasn’t enough, your hormones are going crazy. There will be tears and lots of them. You may suffer from mood swings while your hormones settle down, feeling full of joy one minute and crying over a pet food advert the next.
That first week will be a blur of emotions as you adjust to being a mother. Let yourself feel these emotions, they’re normal. If, after a week or so, you’re still feeling down and are worried it might be something more than the expected ‘baby blues’, speak to your healthcare provider about how you feel.
#9: Have Baths
Soaking in a warm bath is a great way to encourage your body to heal after the birth. Lying in the bath can help soothe any swellings, stitches or haemorrhoids you may be suffering from.
It’s also the perfect way to relax. Feed your baby then pass him over to your partner while you escape upstairs for a soak in the tub. Use the time to unwind and relax, clear your head and enjoy being submerged in the warm water.
When you get out, you’ll feel clean and refreshed too which has the added benefit of lifting your mood. You just had a baby, you can have as many baths as you like. Check out 7 Herbal Bath Soak Recipes For New Mothers for inspiration.
#10: Enjoy Your Baby
These days might be a bit of a head fudge, but you won’t get them back. Your baby won’t ever be this small or dependent on you ever again. Each week, your baby will grow a little bigger and a little older and, soon enough, he’ll be fighting for his independence.
In amidst the nappy changes and the endless feeds and the crying and the waking, make time to breathe in that gorgeous newborn smell and admire those teeny tiny fingers because they’ll be a distant memory before you know it.