Many new moms have moments when they feel completely overwhelmed. Mood swings as the body adjusts after giving birth can drain a new mom’s energy and cause her to wonder, “What were we thinking?” And then the baby coos or smiles their first smile, and everything is wonderful again.
Expectant parents receive advice from all directions. Suddenly, even people who have never had children themselves seem to feel qualified to give advice on everything from breastfeeding to sleep training. Expectant couples learn to filter these waves of information directed at them. They manage to pack what they need in their hospital bag weeks before the contractions begin. But surviving the first few months after the baby comes home is another matter. Here are some survival tips every new mother should know when sleep deprivation seems endless and the crying won’t stop.
Before the baby came, you may have politely listened to unsolicited advice with no real intention of following it. Once the baby is home, advice often turns to offers of help. Don’t play Superwoman. If a friend offers to deliver a meal (no contact, of course, until the COVID-19 coast is clear) or let you vent over a video chat, do it. You’ll appreciate the break and the outlet.
Don’t Abandon Self-Care
Create a schedule with your partner so that each of you has a scheduled break when you do a “shift change.” One well-rested parent in the house is better than two totally exhausted ones. On your break, do something you used to do that made you feel like yourself. Take a shower, do your hair, watch a half an hour of guilty pleasure TV, or grab a quick nap. Both you and your baby will be better for it.
Trust Your Instincts
Mother’s intuition is a real phenomenon. Researchers have found that a woman’s brain changes during pregnancy and that the changes are permanent. They posit that some of these changes may be specifically to adapt to nurturing and protecting an infant. No one will recognize your baby’s cries—and what they signify—better than you, the baby’s mother. Don’t feel shy about contacting your pediatrician or nursing consultant for help if you think something isn’t right.
Wear Your Baby
Free up two hands for multitasking by investing in a great sling or baby carrier that lets you strap your baby close and get on with life and work. Your baby will feel snuggly and secure—and will likely doze off—in the comfort of closeness with you.
Parenthood is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s marked with milestones, and they’ll go by faster than you imagine. The day will come when the baby sleeps through the night and a more livable schedule becomes possible. Your own parents got through it, so they can provide even more survival tips for you as a new mother.