You are finally home with your newborn baby. Throughout your pregnancy, you imagined what it would be like to finally have your bundle of joy in your arms. Although you heard and read about how life with a new baby was wonderful yet exhausting, you had no idea how difficult these first days at home would be. But there’s a secret to surviving the first six weeks after baby.
These suggestions can help your transition into parenthood:
Allow Your Body to Heal
First and foremost, you need to give yourself time to heal. Your body has undergone a most wondrous event, and whether you gave birth vaginally or had a cesarean, it will need time to recuperate. Care for your stitches, take prescribed medications, use whatever magical herbs you’ve got. Eat well, keep yourself hydrated, rest as much as you can, and recruit all the help you can get.
Give Yourself Permission to Let Others Serve You
Women are notorious for caring for others, even when they have recently given birth, and especially when there is a steady flow of visitors to see the new baby. If you are guilty of this, STOP! This is the time for you to let your visitors get YOU a cold drink. They could even start a load of laundry or load the dishwasher. You might even let everyone who wants to visit know that their ticket into your home is a meal or a gift card to your favorite take-out restaurant.
Get Help that HELPS
Your friends and family are truly happy to help out during this time. Don’t be afraid to ask someone to drop off a meal, shop for groceries, handle that mountain of laundry, or give you and your baby a ride to the pediatrician’s office. A website like Lotsa Helping Hands makes it easy for you or a friend to schedule meal delivery, errands, and home visits.
For breastfeeding help, a lactation consultant or La Leche League leader is invaluable. For customized, personal assistance with anything from learning how to care for a newborn, getting a home-cooked meal, or having overnight help with baby so you and your partner can both get more sleep, consider hiring a postpartum doula.
Reach Out to Other Moms with Babies
If you previously worked full time, being at home — much of it alone with your newborn — is tough. Sometimes, you might feel like you’re the only one experiencing trouble with breastfeeding, getting no sleep, or finding the time to eat or shower. You may be craving conversation with other adults or just want to get out of the house. It’s always a relief to find other women who are going through a similar transition, and it’s great to have others with whom to trade tips and tricks. The SmartMom app is a great way to find other moms in your area!
Otherwise, find local family publications or websites to locate parenting groups that meet periodically. If you are breastfeeding or want to know more about attachment parenting, attend a La Leche League or Attachment Parenting International meeting if any exist in your area. Sometimes your doctor, midwife, birth or postpartum doula, or childbirth educator will have a list of support groups in your area.
Schedule Dates with Your Partner
Spending time alone with your partner can recharge you both and keep you connected. Make a point to spend at least 10 minutes a day talking about things other than the baby or your day. While baby sleeps, snuggle on the couch and watch television or have dinner together. As baby gets older, make arrangements for someone to care for your baby for an hour or two. The point is to spend time and BE with one another.
You may have noticed a common theme with these tips – they all involve people. That saying, “It takes a village to raise a child,” is absolute truth. You cannot do it alone, and nor should you feel you have to. Get the support you need so you can take gentle care of yourself. Doing so will help you heal faster, potentially stave off postpartum depression, and you will be better able to enjoy your baby so much more.