The first few weeks at home with a newborn can be a roller coaster ride physically, emotionally, and mentally. Even if we generally feel quite confident, sometimes we feel completely helpless as a mother to a new baby in those first few weeks. And for good reason: taking care of a newborn while navigating our new role as a mother, as a wife or partner, and above all as a woman... it can be challenging. It's not always easy to manage everything. Here are our tips for new mothers to help you survive those first weeks with your baby.
1. Ask for help
Don't be afraid to ask your friends and family for help. They want to help you, but they don't always know what you need. Let them help you in small but big ways like doing the dishes, babysitting so that you have time to take a shower, taking out the trash, or by helping you tidy up… We don't often dare to ask for help, especially for tasks that we consider “easy” but believe us, it feels good to get some much-needed help!
Ask professionals for help
Don't hesitate to go see professionals if you want to breathe a little, if you need advice on breastfeeding or sleep! Therapists, baby nurses, nannies, breastfeeding counselors, and postnatal doulas can make your life easier. Hiring one of these does not diminish your ability to be a mother.
Tell your spouse or partner how they can help
Aaaah our partners! They can be strong willed and well-intentioned but don't always know how to help us. You just have to ask them nicely and tell them exactly what it is you need for them to do.
2. Establish a routine
Babies develop their own habits very early on. By paying attention to his or her needs as well as your own, you can establish a routine that will help both of you find your rhythm. You can start by noting the times of feedings, sleep, reading times, play times, etc.. Whatever is important to you. As soon as you see certain events repeating at the same times of the day, a routine begins to set in. Even if you have little control over what may seem like total chaos, this is a huge victory. Generally, the most difficult challenge is to organise sleeping time.
How? By establishing different rituals at different times of the day. For the night, we dim the lights, we talk softly to the baby, we always sing the same nursery rhymes, at a slow and soothing rhythm. During the day, we establish a little ritual with different rhymes and we do not hesitate to leave light in the room. And do not forget to verbalize, as always: explain that we are going to bed, that it is nap time, etc. They actually understand it all.
3. Go for a walk, take a shower, drink coffee, meditate …
These little moments will help you be yourself and not just a “mom”. Of course, you can spend these minutes as you see fit. Whether it is to put on makeup, to play sports or for a skin care moment, these few minutes will do you good.
4. If you are breastfeeding, take care of your breasts
Despite what we may think, breastfeeding a baby is not easy. The first few days you can have trouble finding the right grip, the ideal position, leaking ... The truth is that it can hurt at first and when you are not prepared for it you can quickly feel overwhelmed. Take it slow, don't put the pressure on yourself.
If you have leaks, be sure to wash your breasts well after each meal and cover them with a cold washcloth. Then apply a balm to allow them to heal. Also massage your breasts and use hot compresses to unclog the ducts. Don't hesitate to bring a breast pump. This will help you avoid breast engorgement problems and allow your breasts to rest. You can even let your spouse or partner bottle feed and take this time to get some sleep. Isn't that nice?
If you have any doubts or need advice, consult a specialist who will help you find the right actions and make the pain disappear.
5. "My body is my best ally"
Pregnancy and childbirth may be natural and a beautiful phenomena, but the fact remains that they leave traces. Displaced uterus, shifted pelvis, pain in the back, stomach, sciatic nerve, coccyx, pubic symphysis or pelvic floor: the discomforts can be numerous. It is important to take care of yourself and your body. If you experience discomfort, don't blame it on fatigue. Rather, make an appointment with a health professional: gynecologist, osteopath, physiotherapist, chiropractor, massage therapist, acupuncturist… This can greatly help.
6. Your rest is a priority!
Between nights interrupted by feeding and changing the baby, and naps interrupted for the same reasons, it is not easy to be in good shape, calm and serene. To keep going and not burn out, you need to rest. Easier said than done indeed. But you have to! Rest as soon as the baby gives you the chance. This is the absolute requisite for maintaining all the energy you need to take care of your baby!
7. Take the time to adjust to the baby's arrival!
The months after birth are usually demanding for new parents, but also for siblings if you have other children. It is quite normal in the first few months to have worries, to be tired or to feel overwhelmed. It is a great time of imbalance for the whole family. You have to be willing to give yourself time to learn and to assume your new role as a parent and to feel comfortable. Don’t put pressure on yourself.
8. Take it easy on the cleaning side!
Obviously no one likes having a messy house, but you will have to choose your priorities because it will be impossible for you to do everything. The baby will take up most of your time, and as mentioned above you should spend the rest of the day looking after yourself, rest, and eat. Now is not the time to start spring cleaning! A little daily cleaning will be enough, do not hesitate to ask your partner to get involved in the housework.
9. Don't listen (too much) to advice
"You should stop breastfeeding", "I gave him the bath in the morning", "You should make him sleep in his bed", blah blah blah... This recommendation is valid for all advice, even the most benevolent: follow your own motherly instincts and do things as you feel them! By the way, the following advice …
10. Trust yourself!
We are not born moms. One becomes a mom. So even if at the beginning there are some trials and errors, do not feel guilty. And trust yourself! You carried this little baby for 9 months, and no one (except your partner, of course!) will take better care of him as you would.