Let’s start with a fair and universal observation – no one can prepare you for a baby. Everything you read and get told goes straight out of the window as you blindly try to keep the little miracle alive while not losing your mind at the same time.
In the first month, I felt like I was in a fog and emotionally and physically exhausted, but there are certain lessons I took away from that period that have been echoed by other mums I know and the mummy podcasts I listen to.
As I said, no one can really prepare you, but there are certain things you can have in the back of your mind that ease some of that anxiety.
My mum and brother flew over a few days before I was due and in typical guest fashion they took over the house. Don’t get me wrong, having my mum feed me all my favourites when I was in hospital recovering from a C-section was wonderful, but when we came home we just needed space to come to terms with the new roles as parents. Without sounding ungrateful, they just got in the way, there were snappy arguments and tears from everyone involved. We got through it, but I think if you can try and have a plan in place before baby comes so that everyone is aware that you need those first few weeks to get used to being a family.
Support Your Partner
Dads have it tough. Of course their struggles pales in comparison to the physical pain that comes with childbirth, but emotionally they’re just as vulnerable. The feeling of helplessness is what I hear most and it’s good to remember that you are both going through exactly the same struggles, so give a guy something to do. I was bed bound for the first few days and Kip got involved with all the nappy changing and then told me how to do it once I was able to stand up. Again, I think having a plan in place before the baby comes of the dad’s role during and after birth can spare you unnecessary arguments.
To Give Yourself A Break (emotionally)
I found breastfeeding hard and as a woman I naturally saw myself as a failure. Looking back, I gave myself a tough time and wish someone gave me a Twix and knocked some sense into me. It’s hard to switch off and have some you time in the first month, but I found taking a shower or watching Friends on repeat helped me switch off.
If you do have family staying with you in the first month or/and have a nanny, allowing them to get involved can be hard. I was like mama bear not wanting anyone near Lola, even though my mum and nanny both have a better experience with babies than I do! Of course you have to try and get into your own rhythm but when you struggle, there’s nothing wrong with asking for help. For me, it’s having my mum take care of the fridge and dinners that helped more than rocking Lola to sleep, otherwise we would’ve been on a Deliveroo diet. She also got me out of the house which was great for both Lola and me.
Sleep When The Baby Sleeps
I tried to do this but for some reason I saw those hours as an opportunity to do things round the house or work. Work? Seriously? Woman, you just had a baby, SWITCH THE F OFF! I was on Zombie mode for weeks which made going back to work 45 days later even harder so, going back to previous point, ask someone to help out with things round the house while you catch the much-needed Zz’s.