S – SUPPORT
E – EAT
L – LOVE
F – FEARS
C – CHANGE
A – ASK
R – REST
E – EXPECTATIONS
Think “mothering the mother”. Whilst you’re mothering your baby, you need someone to look after you. Someone perceptive enough to know what you need without you having to ask for it and someone who asks for nothing in return. Great options are your partner, mum or best friends. Friends who have recently had babies are also great as they are going through the same thing as you.
Your emotions will be all over the place during the first few weeks. Seek out those you know will support you unconditionally, won’t offer advice unless you ask for it and who will make absolutely no judgements.
You must, must eat properly. You can’t give to your baby if you are running on empty. Batch cook before your baby arrives and pop loads in the freezer. Allow no guests to enter unless they bring food. Work out a healthy quick smoothie recipe and drink one every day (a great way to get your 5-a-day and can be consumed one handed). Don’t skip meals. You must also stay properly hydrated. Have a water bottle with you at all times. Dehydration can make you feel even more tired.
Allow yourself to be loved by everyone willing to spend time with you. Don’t think you have to do everything yourself. Your baby is not going to remember that you drove yourself into the ground by insisting that you be the only one that does anything for them.
Allow yourself to feel the love you have for your baby but also expect to feel overwhelmed and tearful. Express your feelings with those who love you and share how you are. It’s ok to be weepy. It’s ok to have days when you think that becoming a mum might have been a bad idea. It’s also ok to feel that your heart could burst with love. Share and share your feelings and accept help. This is not the time to be a superwoman.
It’s god damn scary being left alone with your baby for the first time. Be prepared to be terrified! I couldn’t actually believe that anyone thought I was capable of looking after Grace alone – I thought I had no real idea what I was doing!
Fears are normal.
Fears are the way our brain works to make sure that we do things the right way.
Actually, you do know what you are doing. Remember that.
It is ok to be scared. It’s also ok to take things in your stride. We are all different.
Go back to support and love. Ask for help, express your fears and allow yourself to be loved. Having your hand held takes away many fears.
Don’t make the first time you are on your own, the first day your partner goes back to work. That feels horrible enough as it is. Try a few hours when they are still around so that you can call them back if you need to!
Having a baby is one of the biggest changes you will ever experience. Your life really will never be the same again. No matter how much preparation you do or the number of books you read, I don’t think you can ever be fully prepared for this.
One valuable lesson I learned was to accept that change. Don’t fight it and stop trying to find reasons for why your baby does something.
Things go in phases. Whatever you may be struggling with, will pass. You will get through it. Little affirmations reminding you of this are really helpful.
Most of us struggle with change. It is fine to take weeks and months to adjust. You will get to where you want to in your own good time. Try not to worry about what other parents are up to and row your own parenting boat. Trust your gut instinct. She’s usually right.
We can all read books and get ourselves lost in Google but the best people to quiz are other parents (new mum friends are essential) and your nearest and dearest.
Be aware of the judgers out there (they exist and at one time someone will make you feel rubbish) and family members who think they are being helpful but really aren’t. It was along time ago that you were born and you may find yourself having to constantly remind your mum that things are different now!
Choose your counsel wisely as it can make or break new. I’d always opt for other new mums.
You will be told to “sleep when baby sleeps” – that is virtually impossible to do but you will be able to nap when someone else is around to help. That’s most likely to be in the first few days/weeks. You are not going to miss anything so take yourself off to bed if you can. Even fall asleep on the sofa. You can’t keep going forever on snatched sleep. No-one is going to appreciate a totally worn out you – not your baby, family or friends. You are doing everyone a favour by getting rest.
Have none. Don’t put any on yourself. Allow yourself to be the mum you are, not the mum you thought you would be as no-one can live up to the perfect image we create in our minds. Don’t expect your baby to be a certain something or your partner to behave in a certain way. You have to hon st and keep open lines of communication that work for you during this time. You will both be exhausted and the smallest things can turn into huge battles if you don’t talk. Also, don’t necessarily expect your family and friends to act as you expected. Don’t be afraid to let them know what you need and to set down guidelines i.e. for when you want them to visit and what they can do to help when they get there. It’s a great idea to set these out before your baby arrives. Take things one day at a time.
In time, things will get to your new ‘normal’ but don’t be in too much of a hurry to get there. Do what feels right for you and your family. Every mum and every baby is different. Seek guidance from others but be brave enough to follow your own mothering path and look after yourself really well.