It’s six weeks today since my baby girl was born. They say it is around this time that the fog starts to lift and things become a little easier, but quite frankly I have never felt that to be true even after three children.
My days are filled with feeding, changing, rocking, jiggling, shushing and bathing. It takes up all my energy. What I have left to give generally goes into cleaning and taking care of her two big sisters. But while the days may be tiring, my heart is still full of so much love for my three gorgeous girls – it really is the fuel that keeps me going.
It’s so easy to feel lost in the world of a caring for newborn. After a few weeks, once all the excitement has died down and the visits have stopped from enthusiastic family and friends, it can even get slightly lonely. Those tiring days are also quite monotonous as you try to find your way into a routine that will eventually allow you to feel like you can leave the house in an alert mental state, ever just for an hour!
At these times I try to remind myself of one of my favourite sayings:
The days are long but the years are short”.
This is so, so true! My two older girls are growing up so fast – my eldest will be 10 next week. 10! That’s a whole decade! Where did that time go?
Today I am sharing some of my self-care tips in an attempt to help other new mums not to lose themselves. Yes, you’re a mum and it’s the most important job you will ever have, but you are also an individual who needs to recharge yourself. I am a true believer that a happy mum means a happy family.
Take the good days with the bad.
One day you will feel like superwoman with a baby who feeds and sleeps like a dream allowing you to get several loads of washing done, clean the bathrooms and even take a shower and have lunch! Hallelujah! Fast forward to the next day and your baby will be totally and utterly unsettled and miserable, refusing to nap unless she is cuddled in your arms or fed to sleep allowing you to get absolutely nothing achieved. Both days are totally fine! Accept it and move on. There is always another day to tackle that ‘to do’ list tomorrow.
While it’s important to establish a routine with your baby, your routine also needs to adapt to your lifestyle. Remember that everyone’s lifestyle is different and everyone’s baby is different. The way I tried to create a routine with my eldest daughter is different to the routine I am establishing with my six-week-old right now. We have a totally different set of circumstances to work around as I have two school-aged girls who need to be dropped off and picked up at school and other activities, so baby needs to work in with that. Always remember to be flexible. One of my favourite parenting books to help set up a baby’s routine is Babybliss by Jo Ryan which offers practical, gentle advice for feeding, settling and sleeping from newborn and beyond. I highly recommend it.
Go with your motherly instinct, it’s usually right.
Even if this is your first baby, your gut will tell you if you need to look into something further. When Miss 9 was a baby, she was extremely unsettled. She would fall asleep in my arms but as soon as I put her down to sleep she would wake up crying hysterically 10 minutes later without fail. While the maternal child health nurse, family and friends all told me she was just colicky, I knew there was more to it so I took her to the doctor and discovered she had reflux. It allowed us to sort out the situation much sooner, rather than live through weeks and weeks of an unhappy baby … and mum! That being said, resist the urge to visit Dr Google as it can often raise unnecessary worries. It’s always best to chat with your maternal child health nurse, local GP or paediatrician if you have any concerns about you or your baby.
Rest whenever you can.
I know, I know, it’s easier said than done. But it really is true. It doesn’t always mean you need to take an actual nap. Even if you just let baby sleep in your arms or on your chest while reading a book on the couch – I read the whole Twilight series this way when Miss 5 was a baby! Or have a cup of tea and put your feet up for awhile while catching up on your favourite television show – I’m totally keeping up to date with current series of Supernatural this way! Perhaps consider giving yourself just a few minutes each day to re-centre yourself – check out an earlier blog post about finding 10 minutes for yourself each day. It amazing how just a short amount of time each day can make a world of difference.
Put you and your family first.
Having a baby is an extremely exciting time for you, your family and others around you. But it’s important to remember to put the needs of your own family first following the birth of your little one. It’s easy to say ‘yes’, ‘yes’, ‘yes’ to excited family and friends wanting to rush over and meet your little one, only for you to feel exhausted and left dealing with an overtired, over-stimulated baby at the end of it all when everyone else has gone home. Make sure you agree to visits on your terms, when you feel you can manage them and at a time that suits you and your family. True friends and family will understand this and work around you.
Eat well, drink well.
Life with a newborn can be exhausting and while you are totally focused on feeding and caring for your little one, mum is often forgotten. I have gone through many a day realising I haven’t eaten anything until 2pm, or only managing to grab a few unhealthy sugar-filled snacks throughout the day. Lately, smoothies have become my best friend for lunch as they are a quick and easy way to get the vitamins and minerals I need in my diet without having to prepare a full meal. I use a great meal replacement powder made especially for mums like me. While it can be used to help lose baby weight, I drink smoothies as a way to ensure I have a nutritionally balanced lunch. Teamed with a piece of fruit, it fills the gap until dinner nicely and is quick and easy to prepare. Also, make sure you drink plenty of water by having a few bottles filled and ready to go in the fridge.
Make time for your relationship.
I’m totally guilty of not giving this the attention it deserves at times – sorry Mr D! It’s all too easy to get wrapped up in everything baby and let your relationship suffer. But the support you receive from your partner is more important than ever – to give you a much needed break from the relentless feeding and settling or to be a listening ear to your worries and frustrations – it can be what keeps you going at times. When you can, spend some quiet time together. You might not have the all clear from your doctor to have sex just yet, but you can still spend some quality time together, even if it’s just chatting and having a nice glass of wine when the kids are tucked up in bed, enjoying a late dinner or watching one of your favourite movies together.
Don’t be in a rush.
It can be easy for exhausted new mothers to want to wish away the unsettled hours and sleepless nights in favour of reaching their baby’s next milestone. When your arms are aching from holding your newborn for hours, it’s easy to think how marvellous it will be when baby can finally sit on her own. Having a newborn is a marvellous, magical time that goes by far too quickly. So it’s important to enjoy every moment, breathe in that newborn smell and enjoy those early morning cuddles for as long as you can.
Being a mum can be one of the toughest jobs in the world, but it is by far the most rewarding. Through all the sleepless nights, constant worries and tiring, seemingly never-ending days comes the strongest love and moments of pure happiness that you will ever experience.
But if I do have any other advice it would be this: You can never have too many bibs! Regardless of whether you are bottle feeding, planning to wean in the near future or need to catch those teething dribbles, just trust me on this one!!
How did you navigate the newborn weeks? What are you top tips for new or expectant mothers?