Giving birth to your first baby turns your life around in ways that you cannot imagine. I always knew it would be difficult; I never realized HOW difficult!! But, I must add that no matter how tough it gets, its just a phase that will soon pass. Besides, the joys of having children makes it all worthwhile.
On our first visit to the Pediatrician, she said something that has stayed with me: "If you are fine, the baby's going to be fine". That was like a light-bulb moment in my life. Before the birth of my son, whenever I spoke to friends who had just had babies, the only question I asked the new mother was "How is the baby?". Nowadays, I add another - "How are YOU?"
Below are a few tips on all that helped me cope through those initial months of non-stop mayhem.
1. Get help
- Don't try to be superwoman. Its tempting to think you will be able to manage it all; and you even might. But, you will end up exhausted and cranky and so will the baby and everyone else!
- If you live in a joint family, engage the help of able family members. They will only be too happy to help. You might even ask friends or neighbours to help out. When it comes to babies, trust me, EVERYONE and ANYONE loves to help.
- If you need to and can afford it, get hired help. Having someone to help with cooking and cleaning while you look after the baby is a huge relief.
2. Plan, schedule, prioritize
- Prepare a daily schedule or a even a simple "to-do" list. With all the added responsibility you are bound to forget things and a list/schedule is really handy.
- Prioritize your regular tasks and learn to let go of the not so important stuff.
- There will be days when you are too tired out to do anything other than just caring for the baby and that's okay. You need not feel guilty about it. It is okay, in fact advisable, to let some things slide in exchange for a short nap or just resting or unwinding.
3. Keep a baby log book
- In the initial months, I found it useful to have a book in which I recorded Bubs' feeding and sleeping times. It helped me track his patterns and stay on top of his needs at most times. However, do remember that babies are unpredictable at times.
4. Eat nutritious food
- Post-delivery, most of us remember to "eat for two" but it is equally important to eat good and nutritious food. This will ensure that you and your baby get the right nutrition.
- Also, remember to eat frequently or whenever you feel hungry - especially if you are breastfeeding. Don't worry about the extra pounds. Breastfeeding will take care of that and so will your baby when he/she is up and about!
- Avoid junk food, alcohol and caffeine. Healthy homemade food is best.
5. Stay hydrated
- Remember to stay hydrated at all times. Breastfeeding can get you more dehydrated than you can imagine. It helps to drink at least a glass of water before and after nursing. I always kept a bottle of water handy so I could even drink while I nursed!
- You can also have fresh juices or milkshakes if you like.
- Exercise of some kind is important. Even short daily walks are fine if you cannot fit in a proper exercise plan into your busy schedule.
- You need not even go out - although that would be ideal, to get your daily dose of fresh air. You can even do short brisk walks around the house itself.
- You could also try using the stairs instead of the elevator, where possible.
7. Make time for yourself
- Relaxation is vital to your well-being. So, make sure you have some daily "me" time. It will help you feel energized and cheerful.
- Take time to do the things you really enjoy and try to fit them into your schedule. For example, read a good book, watch a movie at home, schedule a massage, take a long relaxing bath - anything that makes you feel good.
- Also, set aside some time to spend with your oldest child - your husband! They need more attention than you can imagine! Seriously though, keep aside some time to spend with each other - it does makes a difference.
8. Get enough sleep
9. Sleep train your baby
- Sleep deprivation is common post childbirth, especially if your baby keeps you up at night. But, remember that sleep is essential to keep your system in shape. You can read more about why sleep is important in my article, Sleeping Matters.
- Get as much sleep as you can and whenever you can. Many people advise that mothers sleep when the baby sleeps. This is actually a good idea. Even if you can't really sleep during the day, at least take a rest.
- Don't feel guilty if you have to put off certain chores in favour of a short nap. You can catch up later when you awaken fresh and energized.
- Apparently it is a well known fact that babies seldom sleep through the nights until 2 years of age. Many mothers in Goa (and probably in others parts of India too) don't sleep train their babies. I advise that you do. (I will talk more about sleep training in another post. Stay tuned!)
- Start sleep training as early as you can, to achieve the best results. I started way too late, when Bubs was almost 8 months old, and it was not easy with all the teething and developmental changes happening!
10. Filter advice from well-wishers
- After the birth of a new baby, you will probably suffer from information overload! The best thing to do is to listen politely, but finally decide what works best for you and your family. Just because something worked for Aunty Mary's neighbour's daughter, it may not work for you.
- They all mean well, but at the end of the day you know what is best for you and your baby.