Confidence Tips for New Mums: Surviving the First Six Weeks
First and foremost, take care of yourself. Have naps during the day when your baby sleeps- remember your baby will keep you awake at night with his or her needs, so take the opportunity during the day to catch up. In the early days when your partner is on paternity leave, make sure you both do this. If you’re both exhausted you won’t be able to support each other through the day. If you have a toddler, make sure you nap when he or she is at nursery instead of occupying yourself with unnecessary tasks. Eat regularly throughout the day, little and often. Remember, if you haven’t had enough to eat or drink during the day, you’ll find it more difficult to cope with simple tasks. Washing your hair and having a shower has never seemed more luxurious than when you have a new baby, and time is at a premium. As the weeks progress make time to have a pamper session- manicure, pedicure or even get your hair done (there are loads of mobile technicians who will visit you at home).
Prioritize the really important things and forget about perfection. Do things as well as you can, accepting your limitations. You may have had a caesarean or you’re just struggling to recover from the birth. You have just had a baby, you’re learning to care for another person who is 100% reliant upon you 24 hours a day; this is very demanding on you as a person. Forget about all the unnecessary stuff, it doesn’t matter if the house is untidy, it’s a home and it’s supposed to look lived in. If you have no help and your home is spotless, all the laundry and dishes are done, the worrying thing is that you may not be actually looking after yourself.
Surround yourself with useful visitors, the ones that will happily do some house work for you, cook you a meal or watch baby so you can sleep or shower. You don’t need visitors that need entertaining. Remember your visitors will unlikely have been up with a new baby, they will have had a good sleep the night before, so get them to do things for you. Get your partner to act as a gatekeeper; have a few people come over at the same time for a short period rather than spread throughout the day. Do not under any circumstances feel guilty about cancelling on someone. If they’re not going to be understanding enough, you certainly don’t need to have them visiting just now! Learn to ask for help and accept any offers- it’s important to be honest with yourself when you’re struggling.
Everyone will have something to say about being a new mum and you will receive lots of unsolicited advice. It can make you feel like you don’t know what you’re doing and you start to doubt yourself. But this is your baby, your instinct will always be to do the right thing. Trust your instinct and learn to filter out the useless stuff- just smile politely and say thank you. You never know, one day something that you discounted might actually be useful.
Most importantly, don’t compare yourself to other mums and babies. Every mum and baby dyad is different and mums can be very competitive and may only be telling you the good bits. Steer clear of comparison and enjoy being a mum!
By Regina Covington, Independent Midwife