Becoming a new mother, especially for the first time changes everything. Perhaps your identity pre-mom revolved around a career. Maybe date nights and girls nights out filled your social calendar. Motherhood is a challenging adjustment that takes time. While you might feel as if you’re going through a rollercoaster of emotions, here are some tips to make this new mom journey a smoother ride.
The phrase “it takes a village” will come more into perspective once you make the transition into motherhood. Don’t feel guilty asking for support. It’s easy to feel isolated when it comes to long days and nights with a newborn. Here are tips on how relying on others can relieve your stress:
- Establish a parental plan with your partner. What shifts will you handle the baby during the night? How will you handle visits from relatives and friends? How do you both feel about letting him cry? Get on the same page before he’s born so things will go smoother with a newborn in the house.
- Pre-plan meals, or welcome friends and family to bring over dishes. If it’s a friend or family member you trust, don’t be afraid to ask them to help you with a few household chores while they get a sneak peek at your precious little one.
- Find the support of other mothers through mommy and me programs or online parenting groups. Get out during the day with your baby -- go on walks or play in the backyard.
Getting in a routine is important for your baby’s feedings, diaper changes and sleep schedule, but don’t be afraid to deviate. You don’t want to feel confined with all of your new responsibilities but be realistic and accept the challenges that might come along making those exceptions. For example, you and your significant other might take him out on a dinner date together. While you’ll get some much needed time with your partner, it might mean he stays up past his bedtime and will be cranky later. Get in the mindset of making exceptions but be realistic about them. This will not only benefit your mental health but his as well as you both welcome changes and see them with less anxiety.
Get Sleep When You Can
Every new mother struggles with getting enough sleep, but that doesn’t mean you can function without it. Sleep when your baby sleeps. You might be tempted to get as many household chores done as possible, but let them go. Don’t feel guilty if your home isn’t pristine while taking care of a newborn. Take a few minutes to tidy up the house and get some rest. Fatigue wears away at your emotional health, lowers your immunities and makes it harder to lose that postpartum weight as it can cause you to binge on unhealthy foods.
Tips to get better sleep with a newborn:
- If your baby wakes up several times a night for feedings, trade off nights with your partner so one of you can get continual sleep throughout the night. Otherwise, if you both get up every other shift, you’ll both be tired.
- Make little adjustments that will help you wind down and get to sleep faster. That might mean turning off your phone or making sure the room is dark enough.
- Make your nap a “power nap.” Sleeping more than an hour during the day will make you feel more tired and fuzzy than before as you go too far into the sleep cycle.
Make Time for You
There’s no shame in self care, especially as a new mom. He needs a well-rested, emotionally ready mother. You’re not just dealing with a new person after your baby’s birth. Your hormones and body are changing too and while you might not feel so confident about your appearance, carve out some time and do what will help you to feel refreshed and relaxed. Take a bubble bath while your significant other watches him. Maybe in the past you loved getting your hair and nails done. You can always have a trusted family member or friend watch him while you take this time for yourself. Create opportunities where you can to self nurture by reading, exercising or taking up a hobby.
Nothing will prepare you for motherhood except time and experience. It’s natural to feel overwhelmed, especially at first. Your life will never be the same as your pre-mom life, but use these tips to adjust this new you and pretty soon you won’t want to trade this new life of yours for anything else in the world.