Advice for Mother to be: Ways to Cope During Early Days of Motherhood.
Tips for mothers to be
So you have just become a new mother. Let me give you a pat on your back and a big hug for deciding to be pregnant and taking up the challenge of being mother. You have done a great job. Congratulation! Now it is time time to enjoy your hard work. It is not easy to be a new mother but you will get through it.
From now on you will be engrossed in looking after and loving this little baby, but this is also time when you need to look after yourself too. Many mums go through sleepless nights, changes in daily routine and, mainly, changes in lifestyle. I have cried and panicked when I became mother for the first time but some of the goals that I set during that time helped me cope through those hard days.
At this stage of your life you will definitely benefit from setting goals, goals that will help you keep moving everyday and for the coming months and years.
Here are some tips that I followed to cope with when I first had a baby:
Sleep/Rest: First thing any mothers should do to cope through this changes is to rest as much as possible. Your body needs to recover from all the changes that happened during pregnancy and birth. Resting is very crucial at this time. Babies will have different clock time than yours, you need to rest or sleep when your baby is sleeping. Though babies don’t sleep for long 8 hours at once because of their need to be fed and change diapers, but they do sleep for a total of 16-17 hours a day. Try to rest and sleep when your baby sleeps.
Just last week I visited my friend who was just 8 days postpartum. When I went to meet her, I saw she was crying. I didn't knew the reason at first, but later on her sister told me she was upset because too many visitors came to visit her and she didn't get enough time to rest while trying to entertain them. Here is the lesson, you don’t need to suffer by trying to entertain at this stage of your life. If the visitors come, they should be kind enough to help you and let you rest- they have already slept for 8 hours but you have not.
What is important for new mothers?
Exercise: If you had a cesarean doctors will recommend you to rest for about 6 weeks before you start doing any exercise. However, whether you had Cesarean or Normal delivery, walking is always recommended to be started as early as possible. Think about taking walk for 10 minutes for first week, then gradually increase your walking habit bit more until you are able to walk about half an hour a day. If you have a partner, he/she can stroll the baby or carry the baby while you walk. If you are a single parent, ask for help to look after your baby for a while while you do some exercise or walking. Walking releases the flow of chemical in the body called endorphin which will also improve your mood if you have been feeling stressed or overwhelmed since the arrival of new baby.
Build up on exercise gradually. Invest on good postpartum exercise DVDs and practice them when you start to feel better doing some stretches.
Join support group
Join support group for mothers: Meeting the mums who are going through the same as you, will help you cope much better. By joining new mother's group you will learn and will be able to share your issues with others. When I was new mom, I joined the mother's group organized by our local Early Childhood Center it was really relieving to hear that other mothers are going through the same issues as I was and the lady who organized that free class helped us with our question. It was very helpful.
How can you benefit from joining Mother's support group:
- You can make new friends with new mothers whom you can relate to and share your experience. When you become a mother you will really feel a need to have friends who are mothers too. Friendship circle changes after you have a child.
- You can ask questions about the problems that you are going through such as how to avoid your baby from being distracted while breastfeeding, what to do if your child is burping a lot, how to settle your crying child at night and various issues related to new motherhood.
Mistakes women do after pregnancy:
Many women worry about their weight during pregnancy and want to loose weight by decreasing their food intake as soon a pregnancy is over- that is a big mistake any women can do to themselves. Pregnancy and childbirth causes detrimental effect in your body, and if you try to cut food that may harm nutritious level in your body, it will cost you your health in the future.
Eat healthy and nutritious food
To promote healing and recovery after you give birth, make sure that you eat healthy food. It is unfortunate that changes that your body has undergone or the hard work your organs have done while you were pregnant and while you were giving birth cannot be seen from outside and people seem to assume you are back to your normal self immediately after your gave birth. But you are not made of stone, your body has organs that needs to settle back to pre-pregnancy state and it does not happen overnight. Just as you carried a baby for nine month and changes happen gradually during those nine months, your body will need again another few months to get back to your previous healthy state. Remember that you have just given birth and your body was feeding your baby from you, it has squeezed most of the nutrition from you to give to your baby.
If you are breastfeeding all the nutrition that you eat goes to your baby too. If you are not sure about what food to eat, refer to your midwife or check on government website such as. Especially if you are breastfeeding, you need to eat the same diet that you were eating during pregnancy but in more amount- healthy and nutritious. Eat food that gives you lots of energy to survive at this stage.
You don't have to make complex dishes, try to make easy but healthy meals.
Eliminate the stress/ Maintain emotional well being: You might feel emotionally drained due to change in sleep pattern, lack of sleep, change in body image and mental exhaustion after your new baby arrives, but believe me you will get through this because nothing lasts forever. Your baby will grow quickly day by day, try to enjoy and cherish this moment. Save your emotional energy for other crucial things you need to do with new baby and yourself.
Don’t worry about laundry or dishes or tidying up your house. Even though guests will be lining up to see your baby, this is not the time to worry about entertaining them, rather it is time for you to heal and recover. You can hire a cleaner to clean your house for a twice a week for first couple of weeks and then you can do it later as you recover. You can also find a baby sitter for a while when they will change the nappies and feed the baby and you can rest or get some sleep while your baby is being looked after. Don’t push yourself too hard.
There are other things you to relax yourself:
- Take time out: Can someone cook dinner or look after your child while go out for a walk or coffee. Taking time out is one of the best way to maintain your emotional well being. It will take you away from all the emotion you have been drained into. Just 15 minutes of self-time at two separate time of the day will relieve lots of stress. Remaining emotionally well is one of the way to keep focused and achieve your goal of motherhood for long term. If you are not emotionally stable, you will feel like crying all the time which will soak up your energy.
- Write a short diary or journal about changes that is happening since the arrival of baby. This will help you to concentrate on something else than worrying about how to cope.
- Take relaxing bubble bath if there is someone to look after your baby for a while or go to the park with a baby and sit down while enjoying the nature.
- When you feel stressed or overwhelmed nothing you do is helping you to enjoy your baby, ask for help with professionals.
- Get a massage: Our bones become fragile during pregnancy and breastfeeding, getting a massage is a great way to get those bones strong again and to relax yourself.
- Get a haircut, manicure or pedicure: Anything that makes you feel better. Mothers are expected to be with their child all the time, but you deserve a time out to be strong emotionally. Whoever doesn't understand your need, they are not really thinking about your well being, are they?
Tips to make breastfeeding easier:
- Feed baby in lying position: This is the common practice many women practice in various countries and I did the same. It not only helped me with feeding, but also I got time to rest while feeding.
- If your nipple are sore, apply your breast milk and let it rest for a while. You can also use nipple shield (I used the one and it helped me with pain a lot) as soon as you start to get soreness in your nipple to help your nipple heal quickly.
- Don't tolerate too much pain. Rather express milk and freeze it and give your breasts rest for a while.
Breastfeeding mums: It is recommended that baby should be breast fed exclusively for 6 months and then formula to be introduced. However, breastfeeding is a personal choice of a mother and no mother should made feel guilty for whatever they chose.
I was lucky as I managed to feed my milk. Breastfeeding is not an easy job until you get used to it, it takes time for you and your baby to be skilled on being fed. Make sure you remain patient at this time. Get ideas of experienced mums or midwives about the various position to feed your baby (Mother's support group will help you with issues relating to breastfeeding).
The need for nutrition increases for lactating mother. Make sure you eat healthy nutritious food in enough amount so that not only your baby gets nutritional milk from you but your body also has vitamin in your body.
Enjoy your baby: This is the advice that every mother with grown up child has always given me when I first became a mother. No doubt you will experience lots of overwhelming changes when you become a mother, but you should not forget what you have achieved from your hard work- your little baby. Don’t forget it. No matter what happens or how complex life will be to you, your little baby will keep growing everyday giving you lots of surprises as they grow. Try to record this wonderful moments in your little diary. There are various ways to enjoy your baby. Some ways are:
- Talk and smile to your baby while feeding or changing diaper.
- Smile to your baby.
- Make funny faces to your baby and enjoy when your baby giggles.
- Gently extend your baby's hands and legs and enjoy seeing her enjoying those stretches.
- Rub your finger gently in your baby's palm, foot and tummy and see her giggle.
- Sing to your child.
- Take lots of pictures as they will grow fast.
Thinking about going back to work
Work is part of our life and whether we have kids or any major changes in our life, we still have to work and make money to fulfill our day to day needs. And no doubt you must be thinking when can you return to work after having your baby. For the first 4-5 months, you need to rest but after that some woman start to work, mostly part-time or few hours a week. So, the answer for when you can go back to work depends on these two crucial questions:
- who will be looking after your baby when you will be at work: your husband/partner, your parents/friends/relatives or child care centre.
- If you are planning for breast feeding, how often are you planning to feed the baby, or how often you will be able to express milk if you have to.
Keep your goals and objectives real and low: This is the final advice that I would like every mother to remember because this is not the time to have huge goals and ambition. This is time to enjoy being a mother. Be proud of yourself whether anyone tells you or not!
So here I finish by giving another pat on your back for taking a challenge of motherhood!
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