We talked about some hacks on how we can manage with a newborn from our previous blog post, Getting Chores done with a newborn. Let’s dig deeper into how challenging a new baby’s first weeks at home can often be. Parents may feel overburdened, if not overwhelmed. Inadequate sleep can cause weariness. Caring for a baby may be a lonely and challenging task. Nobody should be expected to care for a tiny baby on their own.
Here are some tips for surviving the first weeks at home with the newborn:
Preventing Fatigue and Exhaustion
When the baby naps, you sleep. The age-old advice to sleep when your infant sleeps is frequently given but frequently disregarded. As tempting as it may be to use your child’s napping time to catch up on cleaning, laundry, or return emails and phone calls, try your hardest to put those duties on hold. Extra naps throughout the day will help you cope with sleepless nights and stay alert while caring for your newborn.
On the third or fourth day after giving birth, more than half of women experience postpartum blues. Tearfulness, fatigue, melancholy, and difficulty thinking clearly are some symptoms. These transient sentiments are most likely induced by the abrupt changes in hormones caused after birth. The full impact of being responsible for a dependent newborn can also contribute to feeling overwhelmed. There are numerous options for coping. Recognize your emotions. Discuss them with your significant other or a close friend. Don’t try to repress destructive emotions or pretend that everything is fine. Get enough sleep and assist with the day-to-day tasks of newborn care. Maintain contact with friends and organize activities outside the house—take the baby for a stroll, meet a friend for lunch, or run an errand. Take the baby with you or leave them with your partner, a trusted friend, or a family member. If you haven’t felt better by the time your baby is a month old, consult your doctor.
The Partner’s Role
Your partner may like to take time off work to stay at home when the baby is delivered. Many partners find it beneficial to use vacation time to return for a shortened week or shorter days for a while, even if it means taking fewer full days off immediately after birth.
Both parents will find their way of interacting with the baby – feeding, changing, bathing, holding. The non-birthing parent may feel left out sometimes, or it may take some time to feel confident in their parenting abilities. Many parents discover that the best way to deal with these emotions is to practice!
Helpers: Relatives, Friends, Sitters
Everyone requires extra assistance during the first several weeks with a new baby. Grandparents, sisters, aunts, and uncles can help immensely. When called upon, good friends will frequently come to one’s aid. You should also think about hiring a postpartum doula. Look at organizations like DONA or CAPPA or ask your OB, midwife, or pediatrician for a doula recommendation. You may also consider hiring a mother’s helper – whether a teenager or adult – someone to come by to help with household chores, childcare for other children, or baby care while you nap. Make it clear that your responsibility is to care for your child. Your helper’s job is to shop, cook, clean the house, and wash clothing and dishes. If your newborn has a medical condition requiring specialized care, request home visits from a public health nurse.
Stock your kitchen.
Having a newborn infant is exhausting, and the last thing you’ll want to do is plan a dinner, go grocery shopping, and prepare meals. Your ‘nesting’ urge will most likely kick in near the conclusion of your pregnancy, and you’ll have a solid need to prepare your home for the new arrival. Use this rush of pregnant energy to prepare healthful meals that can be frozen and consumed after the baby is born. You’ll also discover that your hands are literally packed with your newborn infant. Stock your kitchen with one-handed snacks, such as granola bars, muffins, dried fruit, and almonds.
Keep visitors to a minimum.
When you and your family are sleep-deprived and adjusting to life with a new baby, having visitors in and out of your home can be exhausting. While it’s nice to see familiar faces, set limits on how many guests you want and how frequently you want companionship. Request that well-meaning individuals outside your close group refrain from making house calls until you’ve adjusted to your new normal.
Take time for self-care.
Many new mothers are not only learning how to care for a baby on little sleep during the first weeks of their child’s life but also recovering from giving birth. Postpartum care is essential for new mothers, including following their doctor’s instructions, eating well, and resting. Before your due date, discuss your expectations for splitting home tasks and baby care with your partner so that you may adequately care for yourself, both psychologically and physically.
Remember that the newborn period is short, and your family will adjust. Feeling unsure as a new parent is expected, so don’t be afraid to ask for help and advice from health care professionals, family members, or close friends.