Bringing your new baby home is so exciting, and while there are many miraculously sweet and sacred moments in there, it can be overwhelming - to say the least. Sleep deprivation isn’t conducive to the most logical or objective thought processes – and well-meaning people offer such contradictory advice your head will spin.
Fortunately, if you learn to trust your instincts and your feelings, your path will be smoother. Here are some of the less-fun things you can expect after baby arrives – along with surefire solutions.
You’re worried about everything, all the time
Poor mama! The combination of a fragile newborn, a tired mind, and TMI from society’s “experts” can make for serious, new-mom anxiety. Is baby gaining enough weight? Is this normal? Is that normal? The questions continue ad nauseam.
Solution: Enlist a peer(s) you trust, take deep breaths & have faith in your instincts
You are not alone. This is how most new moms feel – regardless of how sparkly and perfect they seem on FB, Instagram and Blogs. I promise you; Inside, they’re all screaming!
1. First, if you haven’t given birth yet – consider hiring a doula or midwife. She will be your go-to resource and island of sanity.
2. Give yourself a break from social media. Instead, enlist the support of a non-judgmental, even-keel, mom-peer you trust, join a mom’s group in your area, and take seriously deep breaths on a regular basis.
3. Most of all – trust your instincts. Your heart knows far more about what your baby needs than anyone else. Trust and have faith in yourself. You are worthy of this work, and you will both learn and grow together.
You’re tired – oh, so tired
You’ll be tired to a level of fatigue you never knew existed. That depth of fatigue makes every challenge seem insurmountable at times.
Solution: Re-establish new expectations
One of the biggest enemies here is not the baby who doesn’t sleep, it’s the fact that women/couples try to maintain their old routines, along with the new baby. For the first six weeks or so, forget about the old routines or typical time constructions. Hide the clocks if you need to. There is no day or night – or things that should happen during the day or at night. There’s just waking, sleeping, eating, etc. as needed.
Sleep when baby sleeps; wake when baby wakes. You may find that your new finest hours are actually between three and six in the morning – and that’s okay. It will all balance out and right itself soon enough.
You can’t get things done
The dishes, the laundry, preparing meals, basic errands – all difficult to do when a newborn requires hours of attention.
Solution: Take everyone up on their, “if there’s anything I can do…” offers
People want to help! Let them. Enlist them to set up a Meal Train, do some laundry, wash the dishes, spruce up the house, hold the baby so you can take a shower, pick up essential grocery items, etc. They will love the help, and you’ll love having some things taken care of as you establish your new routine.
Breastfeeding isn’t feeling so “natural” after all
Breastfeeding is a double-edged sword for many women because yes, it’s “natural,” but it doesn’t always happen like clockwork. It is not unusual for breastfeeding to take about three to six weeks (or longer) to really kick into rhythmic, smooth-sailing gear – and that’s a long time if your nipples are in agony, the baby is fussy or you develop blocked ducts or mastitis.
Solution: Don’t panic & contact your local La Leche league
If you don’t want to contact them, have your spouse, partner or a friend do it. But let me tell you, those La Leche League women are rock stars and their support, expertise and access to certified lactation consultants are lifesavers for new moms having a rough time breastfeeding.
Click Here to connect with Bay Area La Leche League group in your area. I recommend attending a meeting or two before your baby is born to meet some of the women so you feel more comfortable contacting them if needed.
Your nether regions are ouchy
The first day or two may surprise you because all that oxytocin released from the birth is an amazing pain reliever. After day three, though, things can really start to ache and feel tender.
Solution: Skip TP and use a squirt bottle and a sitz bath solution
For the first week or so, consider ditching the TP and having a nice pile of soft, microfiber cloths on hand. If your healthcare provider didn’t give you one, order a perineal irrigation bottle, along with sitz bath tea, and keep the bottle full on the back of your toilet tank. It’s so much nicer to gently wash than wipe – and the herbs in the sitz bath solution soothe and stimulate tissue regeneration.
You can also take sitz baths by adding the solution to your bath water and enjoying a relaxing soak with or without baby.
You had a C-Section
As if the postpartum period didn’t have enough challenges, a C-section makes it more difficult to lift, twist and hold baby in certain positions because the incision needs to heal.
Solution: Be prepared & ask for help
You’ll need more help for the first two weeks or so; ask for it and practice the graciousness of receiving the support, love and help others are eager to give. If you’re newer to the area and don’t have a community yet, hire a postpartum doula. Brilliant Births has some of the best doulas in the Bay Area.
Mobility will be a bit tricky at first as well. Have a big basket prepared with all of the items you’ll need on-hand, including:
· nipple cream
· burp cloths and adult-sized towels
· trash bag(s)
· extra baby clothes
· extra lounging clothes
· water bottle
The more you have within easy reach, the more comfortable you’ll be. Never hesitate to ask for help – you’ll heal faster that way.
Mom Wars are wearing you down
Moms, both online and in person, have a penchant for battling their point(s), rather than being openly supportive that there are different strokes, for different folks.
Solution: Disengage at the first sign of a Battle Mom
The minute you find yourself feeling defensive or second-guessing yourself, disengage from the conversation. True friends offer advice when asked and graciously concede that each of them knows what’s best for their child and household – just as you do for yours.
Decide what’s right for you and don’t guilt yourself over:
1. Breast milk or formula
2. Family bed or crib in a separate room
3. Never cry vs. cry it out
4. Birthing preferences
5. Organic or not
6. Vaccinations or not
7. A gazillion and one other things Mom Wars get started over
Your baby is an energetic sponge so the more you detach from what others think/judge/share, the more relaxed you both shall be.
You’re doing an awesome job, mom!!! These early days really do become a blur – and you’ll emerge on the other side more in awe of yourself than ever.
My name is Marcela Limon, owner of Lemonshoots, and I’m a certified newborn photographer here in the Bay Area. I think babies are miracles and new moms are heroes, and I would love to capture the essence of you and your baby’s powerful magic. Contact me to schedule your newborn photo session and we’ll create incredible images that show the best of what this fleeting newborn phase has in store. (510) 747-9019.