Bringing home baby: self-care tips for mum and baby

Bringing home baby - Ever-changing Life of a MumIt’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.

Be flexible.

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?

 

37 thoughts on “Bringing home baby: self-care tips for mum and baby

  1. Great tips there Erika. My youngest just turned 5 so those newborn days are way behind me but i remember them well. Not wishing your life away is probably my biggest tip too – everything does go by in the blink of an eye when it comes to children so make the decision to savour it all, rather than trying to wish it all away!

  2. Great tips for all mums!
    I always found the first six weeks of adjustment were hardest, but after that you kind of found your groove. Till about 4 months, then it gets harder again. 🙂

  3. These are all very valid tips… Going with the flow, and being open to all the change that is about to occur; relinquish expectation; except help, and reach out for help… I think the more help we can provide to each other during the newborn period the more supported mother’s will feel, and the better they will fare. Blogs help 🙂

  4. Fab tips! I miss those newborn cuddles, they totally grow up so fast! They really are only a newborn for such a short amount of time and you need to savour that but in the dead of the night that can be very hard!

    • Thanks Haidee. It’s at those moments when things feel too hard that I really do just remind myself to breathe to clear my mind. I remind myself to enjoy the precious time I have with my little one as they do grow so fast as I know this is my last one so I need to inhale all that newborn goodness while I can!

    • I agree. My baby girl is six weeks now and becoming a lot more aware of her surroundings. She’s becoming a bit of a catnapper during the day, but for the moment she’s still treating me well at night so I can deal with the daytime fussiness for the moment.

  5. I am so totally impressed that you got this awesome post out! WOW!! That awesome, because doing your blog is for you, and your readers. YES! YES! YES- to going with your instinct. I wish I’d gotten a second opinion sooner on whether my son had tongue tie. The Paediatrician here had never heard of posterior tie. That should have been my first clue to follow my gut!

  6. Congratulations on the new addition to the family. They are indeed great tips to make the most of those precious time. Leaving some belated fairy wishes and butterfly kisses from #teamBOT

  7. Great tips, you definitely need to learn to say no to stuff because they grow up way too fast. Before you know it, they aren’t falling asleep on your chest, they’re squirming to get down and pull everything off shelves! I always loved having a container of almonds and a bottle of water on the coffee table so if bub fell asleep, I had food and water to see me through while he slept. I also used the time while he was tiny to re watch the whole series of Sex in the City on dvd 🙂 Perfect excuse to stay on the couch, rest and have newborn baby cuddles!

  8. Fantastic advice and agree with every point – I was literally nodding as I read this. Enjoy the precious time with your new bub! I agree the time just flies and the fog certainly lasts a lot longer than 6 weeks!

  9. Great tips Erika! Such an exhausting, overwhelming, but incredible time that passes by so quickly. That saying is one of my faves too! As my baby is almost 4, it’s oh so true! It’s like I blinked and we were out of that fog an onto the next thing. Thanks for linking up to the Ultimate Rabbit Hole! Xx

  10. I found the newborn weeks ever-changing. No two babies are the same. This list is awesome and it brings back so many memories. One of the best tips is to live in the moment and try not too wish it away in the haze of sleepless nights and endless nappies. Jx

  11. Oh yes, yes, yes! I constantly ate and always had a full water bottle on hand during those first few months. Masterchef and reruns of Friends was how I’d spend quality time with the hubster in between feeds!

  12. Great tips! I wish I’d read this 8 months ago before I had my bub! There are things here I still dont do, like look after myself and make time for our relationship.I think I should take these on board more. On a side note, how amazing are newborns!!!! I want another! Congrats!

  13. Fantastic tips Erika! I fully agree with going with your gut and I also regularly used the mantra “whatever works”. I had a good giggle at your tip about there never being enough bibs. For me it was what I liked to call “spew rags” which were towelling nappies. Perfect for feeding, changing and generally wiping up mess. I had a dozen on rotation. I may not use them for those reasons now but they make excellent cleaning rags and are handy to keep in the car when a playground slide or swing needs to be wiped free of rain!

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