Oh, the joy of being an expectant mother. It is a time of hoping and planning and dreaming. Expecting mums take great pains to prep their homes for the arrival of their little one. Nurseries are decorated and even created from scratch, baby clothes are purchased, a crib is crafted, the toys, nappies, and changing station are made ready. And then, the day dawns — a new life comes into the world, and everyone feels untold joy. There is nothing as momentous as the successful delivery of a child. But then what? Well, then begins the journey of parenthood, and the very first steps you take as a new mum are the hardest. There’s discomfort post labour, exhaustion from sleep deprivation, pain from breastfeeding, and so much more that you realise is way more difficult to take on than you imagined. Your first week with your newborn will be your most memorable, for better or worse. Here are 6 tips to ensure the former.
Make recovery a priority
Your body and mind will still be recovering from the stress of labour and delivery, whether your child is born vaginally or through a C-section. Even sitting down and visiting the toilet will seem like impossible tasks. Give yourself time to make a full recovery. Don’t rush to do it all. Your body will thank you later if you take it slow initially.
Sleep when you can
The first week of motherhood means either not sleeping at all or sleeping very little or sleeping at the oddest times of the day. It will take you and your baby a while to figure out a schedule for feeding, sleeping, and the rest. Until then, you will have to make do with the tiny snatches of sleep that you’re left with, and of course, you must try to sleep when your baby sleeps. As we mentioned earlier, trying to cram in a bunch of chores instead of focusing on rest will increase exhaustion.
Breastfeeding is tough at first
It’s not like the sweet pictures you come across on the internet. It takes work and trial & error. There will be chafing and discomfort and feeding sessions all day, and your baby will also take time to get used to the process. It will help to see a lactation consultant beforehand. That being said, breastfeeding is super crucial for bonding and will work wonders for your relationship with your child.
Bonding helps ease the pressure on you and baby
It can be as simple as eye contact. You could allow your little one to play with your finger. You can talk or sing to them. Cuddling, caressing, rocking — it will all help, especially when you’re trying to soothe a particularly upset neonate. Ensure you try to maintain skin-to-skin contact whenever possible to ensure you bond in the best way possible.
Changing sessions are no joke
Newborns poop a lot! And there’s no schedule you can make for that. Their poop will have a very soft consistency, making the entire changing exercise more messy and tiring. Ensure you have enough clean nappies or diapers handy all the time. Sometimes they get so messy they have poop up their backs and in their hair too, so keep those wipes ready!
Ask for help and take it
There is no way you can do it all as a brand new mom, so ask for help. It’s the bravest thing you can do. Dad can help out with bottle feeding sessions and changing and errands. Other family members and even friends can pitch in to tidy up whenever needed and take care of other household chores so you can rest and recover. Don’t say no to help offered, and don’t consider yourself weak if you find yourself looking for a nanny. You need to do what it takes to ensure those early few days are healthy for you and your baby.
The first week of motherhood is a sanity test. You’ll be bleeding, sleepy, irritable, weak, emotional and, well, beat! And there will be visitors and calls and messages. Take it one day at a time, and before you know it, your little one and you will have the hang of things and how!