If you are in the first few weeks or months after the arrival of your first baby, please read on. Many new mothers (and fathers) are SO hard on themselves, feel completely overwhelmed, and don’t know where to start. Here are a few reminders that will hopefully help.
Remember that you are still recovering
Following the birth, you will feel uncomfortable and different – your body has just gone through something incredible (and from a physical perspective, there can be trauma to your reproductive organs). Don’t try to spring back faster than you feel ready, and you’re not meant to right away.
Accept any and all caretaking
Whether that’s by your own mother, your spouse, or a friend. Be specific on what kind of support would help if you know what that is; maybe it’s meals, maybe it’s 20 minutes of watching your baby so that you can have a shower. If you’d had major knee surgery, you would probably let people help you, right? The same idea applies here.
Make sleep (although usually disjointed) a priority
Naps may become not only your new best friend but also your lifeline. The dishes can wait. And remember in the early days, your nights are your days and your days are your nights (that’s your baby will think at least!) I repeat – daytime naps will be key for many new mothers.
Spring for convenience when you need it in those early days
Be it hiring someone to come and clean, buying takeout occasionally, or if you are at your wit’s end with regards to sleep and you need to enlist a sleep consultant, don’t be afraid to admit defeat! This is not the time for ego.
You will feel like you don’t know what you’re doing for a while
But your instincts will come, trust those and when you don’t know what to do, your best guess is going to have to do. If it doesn’t work, try something else. There’s no manual for your specific baby, do your best. And when in doubt, ask your healthcare provider(s) or other mom friends.
Lower your expectations for yourself during this time
And then lower them again! This isn’t permanent, it’s survival.
At the beginning, limit visitors to only your closest friends and family
Schedule these visits as brief and staggered at the beginning and open things up as you develop a bit of a routine.
if you need to
Don’t wait until you NEED to. Just do it. This could be as simple as sending a text to a friend. Many people tend to stay away because they don’t want to intrude or do not know that you are having a hard time.
Give yourself (and your partner) a big pat on the back for what you’ve accomplished
So keep the compliments flowing between each other and be generous with forgiveness. Generating a culture of appreciation in your home goes a long way during these early days.
This can be a really hard time in your relationship
Know that it’s very common for couples to see A LOT more conflict during this transition. So don’t panic, but do what you can to limit destructive behaviour on your end. Just remember the big picture and know that it will get easier with time, as you both find your way through (and start to get more sleep!). If there are damaging dynamics happening, take ownership, and then try a different way.
If this last one sounds all-too-familiar, click here to learn about our online course – this is the shortcut for getting your relationship back on track!
The Postpartum Depression & Anxiety Workbook
Take control of your postpartum mental health with some self-help tools! Access our Postpartum Depression & Anxiety Workbook, an easy-to-read guide with therapist-designed exercises, information, and techniques to help you manage your mental health. This is a roadmap to begin feeling more like yourself.