First Year of Motherhood:
13 Things You Need to Deal With
By Jenn Morrison
It’s no secret that the first year of motherhood can be a rollercoaster. Never did the truism that the ‘days are long and years short’ apply more than during the 1st year of motherhood. Baby classes and books can help, but nothing can truly prepare you.
When I emerged from the haze of my first year of parenthood, I realized how quickly you can forget those early times.
Here is my list of 13 top tips to help you survive those first twelve crazy, tumultuous baby months...
- The first few weeks are the hardest. You will be recovering from the birth and adjusting to emotional and physical changes. At the same time, you are responsible for looking after a baby when it is at its most vulnerable and needy. Thankfully, newborns tend to sleep a lot. This is also a time when all your friends and family will want to visit and hold the baby. Playing host can be hard work when you are probably feeling exhausted or overwhelmed. They say it takes a village to bring up a baby, and they are right. Ask people to bring dishes to save you cooking or ask them to watch the baby while you take a shower. It’s the best gift they can give you.
- Just because your baby won’t sleep through the night at 3 months old, it doesn’t mean they never will. Babies sleep through at different times. If you’re struggling with sleep deprivation, get your husband or partner to takeover night time feeds a few nights a week so you can catch up on sleep.
- Sleep when the baby sleeps. This is harder than it sounds, but some extra shut-eye during the day can have a significant impact on how you feel and cope. Granted, sometimes a nap is not possible. For example, my kids tend to sleep in their stroller when we were out in the park. I would take this opportunity to grab a coffee and enjoy some rare ‘me’ time.
- I found it helpful to have a pre-packed going-out bag ready by the door. Don’t spend time unpacking after each trip. Keep all the essentials together and just replace what you have used. This way, you are always ready to leave the house without worrying you have left something important like nappies, wet-wipes or a change of clothes.
- Adapt and change your attitude towards time. You may be used to things happening in a certain way, at a certain time. With a baby, this all goes out the window. If you used to eat dinner at 7pm, this might now clash with your baby wanting to feed or having a bath. So, it would be better to eat beforehand, even if it feels too early. There’s nothing worse than doing bedtime on an empty stomach.
- For the first six months, you will carry your baby a lot. They naturally want to be in your arms all the time, which makes it hard to do anything. Buy a sling or baby carrier so you can carry your baby around the house and still have free hands to get on with household chores or short trips to the shops.
- If your baby is having trouble settling or sleeping, don’t worry, there’s an app for that. Little ones love the sound of white noise as it reminds them of the environment in the womb. It can have a magical calming effect.
- Don’t forget to look after yourself. Postpartum recovery can take up to six weeks. Make sure you eat lots of healthy food, do things slowly, get rest and do a little light exercise so you can regain your energy and strength.
- Motherhood is emotional. If you are feeling down, don’t keep it to yourself as it’s important to try and get support. Tell your partner or a close friend or even share it with other mums. You’d be surprised that others might be feeling the same as you. If you suspect you may have postpartum depression see a doctor immediately.
- Try to get outside every day, even if sometimes you don’t feel like it. When the weather is nice, organize outdoor activities for you and your baby. Try meeting friends in the playground or going to a park. Spending time in nature is beneficial for you and your little one.
- Things change. What worked one day may not work the next. For instance, when weaning, your baby may one day love avocado, and the next day, hate it. Don’t give up. Keep offering avocado and other foods that are recommended. It’s usually just a phase, so remember to just go with it.
- To baby proof or not to baby proof; once babies start crawling they can be very fast. They love exploring and put everything in their mouths. I put up stair gates, taped up sharp corners and put locks on kitchen cupboards with cleaning products or fragile plates.
- Enjoy every minute. Although it feels like you will be forever dealing with burping, winding, projectile poo, weaning, crawling, teething, before you know it, your baby will become a toddler and, suddenly, the baby months will seem like bliss.