It can be a scary feeling being in sole charge of your own baby and even simple things like having a shower and getting dressed can seem huge hurdles if your baby is crying and there isn’t another pair of hands to hold him.
The more preparation you can do beforehand the better. Although that all seems like common sense, common sense can go into hiding when you are sleep deprived and stressed.
- We cope better with every challenge if we aren’t hungry. The night before make something for lunch the next day and treat it like a work pack lunch. Something you can grab and eat with one hand if necessary. Make sure there are snacks around, especially if you are breastfeeding. You need to ensure your blood sugars don’t dip and watch your fluid intake.
- It can be a bit soul destroying to still be in your dressing gown late in the day. Your little baby may not give you time to shower and dress, constantly feeding, and unable to settle without being held. Whilst this is all very normal while your baby is establishing feeding it can make you feel low. Think about laying clothes out the night before and changing your routine of a morning shower to one in the evening if your partner is at home then. In the morning you only have to pull your clothes on really quickly and you are somewhat prepared to face the day.
- If you are normally well groomed, have a bit of pampering before it is just you and the baby. Have an easy, low maintenance hairstyle and sort out waxing, tweezing and hair dye issues while there is someone to help you with your baby. Your baby won’t give a damn what you look like, but you might. Your self-esteem will be important while you come to grips with your new job. I am not judging you if you want to grow a monobrow and lengthen all your body hair but looking as much like your old self will make you feel more human.
- In the days before you are on your own make sure you have breastfed out of the home at least a couple of times. In most towns there is usually a popular hangout for new mums where breastfeeding is completely the norm. Going with a partner or friend initially will increase your confidence. If you have been relying on feeding pillows at home, you can substitute with a nappy changing bag. Wear loose comfortable clothing and enjoy the feeling of freedom that comes from not having to rush home whenever your baby is likely to be hungry. As in – all the time!
- Work out strategies for staying calm. If you did Hypnobirthing it might come into its own now, even if it didn’t help during labour. If you can feel panic setting in, put your baby down on her back in the crib and walk into another room. Count to ten and breathe in and out slowly. Try to remember that crying is just your baby’s way of communicating. She doesn’t know another way – yet. Don’t focus too far ahead, just concentrate on the next few hours. The wonderful thing about new babies is every day is a fresh start, all of your frustrations about the day before will definitely be forgotten by your baby. She thinks you are an expert and before you know it you will be.
- Try to get a good baby carrier, there are numerous different ones. Once you find a comfortable fit you will be able to wear your baby while you try and fit other things into your day.
- If you are feeling like you are going a bit crazy, head outdoors. Fresh air always helps and baby likes it too.
- If nothing seems to soothe your baby go back to skin to skin, it isn’t just for immediately after birth and it will calm both of you.
- Finally, ask for help! Don’t be too British, take any help that’s going. Nominate your phone a friend, it may well be another new mum that knows exactly how you are feeling. It will get easier. I promise…