As a young couple, you might have craved to have a baby and waited for weeks and months [years, maybe] to hear the good news. As parents you want to be the best ever and give your child every possible convenience and loads of love. You might have conjured up an idyllic life with your baby, happy, smiling and enjoying watching your child grow. Finally the big event you have waited for so long, happens.
As a young mother, you may develop mixed feelings due to a lot of hormonal changes as well as life-style changes you have to cope with. Post-baby blues are fairly common. One minute, you’re care-free, and the next your life is a merry –go- round of changing diapers, preparing feeds, burping baby, cleaning poop and you have only a faint memory of what life was like BB -- Before Baby. Having a few basic guidelines can help ease your life. The pain associated with the delivery may linger or you may develop issues which delay your complete recovery. Added to this you may have a baby who won’t stop crying and rarely sleeps. In addition you are yourself are tired, sleep deprived, you may resent that you are unable to immediately lose the weight you had put on, may have breast feeding soreness, your house is a mess and you have loads of unwanted advice thrust at you. Physical and emotional exhaustion may set in.
1. Establish parental responsibilities and plan for baby's arrival in advance
Parents need to discuss how they will address a wide range of issues such as having visitors and extended family dropping in? How are you going to handle house cleaning? Who's going to get up in the middle of the night when baby cries? Having your mother or mother-in-law stay with you during this period is a great way of strengthening family bonds. It would help to observe and practice a few things like clothing and bathing infants before you actually have to do so.
Your house is certainly going to be a mess and frequent cleaning up can exhaust you or it may even be next to impossible. Make your meals simple but nutritious. Avoid hosting events and get-togethers which may just add to your endless daily chores. Learn to say ‘no’ at times. Outsource things that you have to do such as house work, grocery shopping, laundry, meals supplement or those which can be done just as well by someone else. Hiring a temporary help can also ease your burden.
3. Stay flexible
The first year of a new baby's life requires a huge level of adaptation on the part of parents. If there is one thing that a baby can teach you it is about flexibility and creative problem-solving. Babies are life-altering in the challenges they present. Learn to respond and adapt to the issues – this is the need ofthe hour.
4. Network with other parents, your friends and family
You may not be able to physically visit nor entertain people at home. Online forums are a boon for new parents to socialize as well as keep up with recent trends in baby care. However beware of information overload. Resist the urge to "compare and despair" when it comes to your baby and anyone else's. Parents need to keep in mind that not everything they read on the internet is reliable or a good fit for their family.
5. Stay connected to your partner
Many marriages fall apart in the first year of having a baby because the baby makes so many demands on the parents – financial, emotional, physical and social. Partners may have little time for each other. Sex may the last thing on your mind when you want to drop exhausted in bed having finally put the baby to sleep. However, it is necessary to ensure you take a little time off every week to just be with each other and renew your marriage bonds.
6. Find the humor
Making sure to laugh at times. The situation may seem too hopeless and depressing. It’s really not so! Learn to see things in perspective. Remind yourself this is a passing phase and you have to learn to endure with a cheerful mind.
Fora large part of that first year you focus so much on baby’s needs that you may forget you have needs of your own. You may neglect your meals, health, hobbies, appearance and eventually become depressed. Sleep is a medical necessity for new moms. Sleeping when the baby sleeps is time-tested advice, and it works. Sleep is also an important way to guard against post partum depression. Exercise is equally important, do so in short periods to keep energy levels up. Consciously make time to relax, meditate, do yoga, read, jog, socialize, shop or take an occasional leisurely bath to de-stress.
7. Don't try to be a Super Mom
It's tempting to try to take on the Super Mom role because that’s what you have been told is the ideal. Do not insist on doing everything for the baby from diapering to handling pediatrician's appointments to prove you can cope. In this way you may wind up exhausted, which won't help the baby or you. Learn to ‘let it go’ - without guilt.
Finally, remember the babyhood phase will pass -- all too quickly as most parents attest. Have patience; the joys of having children far outweigh the stress.