You’ve read books, listened to podcasts, attended every single class available and every Mummy & Child event too. You’ve talked with all your friends who have just given birth and your mum – and maybe even grandma for good measure. You believe you are sufficiently prepared to take on this life-changing, defining period in your life. You believe you are ready.
And then when the time comes, you feel like an ice-cold bucket was upended over your head. That you would never have been ready no matter how many extra hours you listened to that podcast. You may feel, in fact, like you’re terrible at what you’re doing.
Stop right there, breathe deeply and take a look over your shoulder. Look at all the amazing things you’ve just been through. You are infinitely stronger than you think and you can do this. And no, all that preparation was not worthless. It’s just that every individual baby is different and that you need to adapt your knowledge to this little bundle of joy you have in your arms.
We’re listing a few practical tips you can employ before giving birth, so that after you will readily find that measure of peace which will make life a little bit easier.
- Talk to someone who may give you a hand in the first three months
We’re not suggesting you necessarily leave the feeding or washing of your newborn in someone else’s hands. What we mean here is someone who can step in to overlook baby while he’s asleep so you can shower in relative peace… not a rushed affair with water that’s still cold, just in case baby somehow manages to find himself outside the ten foot pillow fort you built around him. Sometimes, even allowing you to go for a short walk will do wonders.
2. Freeze meals from beforehand
We’ve said this in our previous post; your nutrition in the first few weeks should be given importance. If you can’t outsource this, or if you think the help you’ll get won’t be able to cook for you, cook meals from beforehand and freeze them into separate containers. They will be a massive help when you find that you have to juggle between cooking for yourself but feeling too tired and guilty that you’re thinking about yourself when there’s baby crying for a reason you cannot fathom.
3. Ignore conflicting opinions
It’s all well and good that your great Aunt Ida wants to tell you what worked and what didn’t with your 45-year old uncle, but there’s a limit to how many opinions people should try to stuff down your throat. This may sound a tad exaggerated but trust us, we’ve been there when we were trying to hold a civil conversation with someone who was determined to shoot down the theories you’ve researched. Hear them out, thank them, and if you feel they don’t fit your idea of good parenting, ignore them. The last thing you need as your due date approaches is a string of contradictory opinions to fill your head and make you worry.
4. Plan to carry on with your social life
Even though it might feel like it at first, your social life has not ended with the arrival of your new family member. It is okay to leave baby for an hour with your partner while you meet up for coffee with a friend. However, it is extremely important that you plan this with your partner before. You need to know how valuable your “you-time” is before you get so caught up in taking care of a newborn. Very often, you’re so hung up that a break away from the child is the last thing you think you need. In fact it’s essential. You also need to make time for each other as a couple. Taking breaks from baby ensure that you enjoy quality time with your baby so much more.
5. Take a step back when things get too much
Then there are times your baby’s tantrums feel like Armageddon is fast approaching and that nothing matters anymore. Breathe, step back and gain perspective. Yes baby is crying. No, it is not the end of the world. Yes, you will get to why he is crying. Yes, you are stronger than this. Yes, this too shall pass. Then step back in, and take control.
No one can prepare you enough, that’s true. But knowing the difficulty that lies ahead is the first step to really grab hold of the reins and see through it with all your bodily (and mental, and emotional) functions, intact.
And believe us, it’s all worth it!