Babies have a universal ability to make life seem full of hope and beauty. The smell and sight of a newborn make most people want to gently reach out and touch his soft skin. We look at a new baby with a feeling of awe and leave us feeling speechless at such innocence.
As we watch her sleeping, we are often overwhelmed by the sense of calmness we feel as we listen to her soft breathing. Life takes on new meaning with the birth of a baby.
However, at times the reality can be quite different, especially in the early weeks after the baby’s birth. The period of adjustment is challenging to even the most organised woman.
The range of opinions and ideas that are given to us can be as overwhelming as the baby’s cries that can seem endless. Knowing who to listen to and how to reject well-meaning advice from those we love or respect just adds to our stress. Balancing the needs of our baby, with our own needs and those of other family members can seem impossible.
We can feel completely overwhelmed by the demands on us. Yes, I’m sure most, if not all of us can empathise with each other and especially with those new mums who are nodding their head in complete understanding of this reality.
Maybe you have woken up this morning feeling this is describing you and your situation just a little too clearly. Perhaps the first few weeks of the baby being in the family seemed easy, but now he or she is not sleeping, constantly wants to feed from you and is generally unsettled and crying sometimes hours on end without settling. You look around your once spotless home and can see everything that needs to be done. Perhaps you are so tired you feel that even your personality is changing. If this is you, then today is the day to take a step back and start to look after YOU!
Take a Step Back From the Situation.
Taking a step back is really the essential first step in finding the path ahead in the midst of all the confusion. Understanding that this phase will pass and you will come out at the other end is the essential second step.
Once you have achieved these two steps, you are in a better position to make choices and decisions that will provide the best options for you, your baby, your partner and other family members including other children in the family. It is about perspective and very often perspective is the first thing we lose when we are tired, exhausted and stressed.
Accept all Offers of Help
Having taken that step back, ask yourself “what resources do I have at my disposal to help minimise all the little stresses that are adding to this big one I am facing.” This may be as simple as saying yes to that girlfriend who has offered to take your other children to the zoo for the day, or organising for them to go to childcare once or twice a week.
We often feel guilty about neglecting our other children during this time, but in truth, children want their mummy to be happy, so if you are able to get some rest whilst the children are happily enjoying themselves with a trusted family member or friend, you are not being a bad mother. Once they return home, your time together will be all the richer for it.
There is no Such Thing as a Super mum
If friends offer you help don’t be embarrassed to accept their offers. None of us can afford to think we have to be super mums and do it all during this stressful time. When you come out on the other side you will be able to offer your help and support to your friends in the way they are now reaching out to you.
Don’t allow the housework to prevent you from resting when your baby is asleep. Whilst it’s very tempting to take the opportunity to mop the floor and do the dishes, your priority must be to do something for yourself, eat nutritious food (The Healthy Mummy Smoothies can really help here when you are short on time) and get plenty of rest, even if you can’t sleep.
Knowledge is Your Best Defence in Taking Control
Knowledge is often the best defence in helping to make plans and take control of any stressful situation. We will also be bringing you some articles about the reasons why your baby may be crying and how to deal with “helpful” advice . We will look at the many reasons why baby may be unsettled, and for those dealing with a baby who seems hungry all the time, we will explore the benefits of both bottle-feeding and breast-feeding your baby.
Remember, you are not alone and I am sure that many mums will want to support you by contributing their own experiences in these sometimes-confusing days after welcoming a new baby into the home.
This article was written by Carol Groves: Carol trained and worked as a nurse and midwife in Australia and overseas, many years ago before having children. Later I trained and worked as a breastfeeding counsellor with Nursing Mothers (now Breastfeeding Australia). Today I am preparing to be a Doula (Childbirth and Peri natal Support Person) and Mother’s Helper. My website is being developed at http://muslimumi.com.
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