There may be no more sudden and significant transition than becoming a new mother. One minute you’re a woman who can decide what you want to do and when you want to do it, and the next, a large percentage of your waking hours are spent meeting the needs of your newborn.
It’s a wonderful responsibility, but a potentially overwhelming one, too. Women face many types of challenges during this period, including the physical changes to their bodies, the strong and seemingly unavoidable rushes of emotion, and the logistical challenges of supporting a now-bigger family.
Consequently, it’s a good idea to have a plan in place for making the transition from “me” to “mom.”
Tips for Adjusting to Life as a New Mother
To care for your newborn effectively, you’ve got to care for yourself. Below are some things you can do to bring some clarity to the sometimes chaotic world of motherhood.
Focus on one task at a time.
It’s hard but try to keep your mind on the job at hand as much as possible. Running through your mental “to do” list continually doesn’t help you get things done any faster — it just puts more stress on you.
Dismiss the “perfect mom” myth.
No mother ever has achieved perfection in caring for their baby and household, and you shouldn’t try. Make a reasonable attempt to hit a reasonable set of goals each day, and then let things play out as they will.
Notice the advice isn’t “get plenty of sleep,” because that’s not going to happen! But you can, and should, rest frequently throughout the day. It’s important to sleep when your baby sleeps. Trying to care for your baby during their waking hours and then care for everyone and everything else while the baby sleeps leaves precious little time for your body and mind to recover.
Eat a healthy diet.
Keep in mind that simple foods are often the healthiest foods. You don’t have to spend valuable minutes cooking “that amazing new squash dish” you heard about if you don’t have the time or energy. Your top priority should be fueling your body so you can stay healthy and, in turn, meet your baby’s nutritional needs. That isn’t to say you shouldn’t enjoy cooking and eating a nice meal if you want to. But if a substantial, healthy snack and then a nap sounds better, you should go that route.
Understand that returning to work may be emotionally draining.
If you’ll be working outside the home after your maternity leave, that transition can be challenging. No amount of preparation will make it easy to leave your baby with a caregiver and head off to work. But you don’t want to pretend it’s not going to happen and then be crushed when it does. And with all that being said, some women find the transition back to work to be relatively easy, and there’s no shame in that!
Think through your post-leave logistics.
How long will it take you in the morning to get your baby ready for the childcare handoff? What items do you need to pack for them? When will your partner need to leave work to pick the baby up on time? It’s important to be flexible, as babies don’t always accommodate their parents’ plans. However, doing a mental (and perhaps physical) walkthrough of how your days will flow before you return to work is a good idea.
Think of co-parenting as a “work in progress” initially.
It’ll take some time for you and your partner to settle into a comfortable expanded-family rhythm, but you’ll get there. The keys are to be flexible and to talk through what’s working and what’s not, and then adjust as needed.
Agree with your partner to make time for each other regularly.
Being a new parent is stressful, and it’s not uncommon for relationships to be a little rocky as you both adjust to the changes in your lives. But finding some time to just be together is crucial. It can be a “date night” if that works, but even just sitting together on the couch after the baby is asleep and talking about anything other than parenting will do you both good.
Be open and honest with your partner about sex.
Pregnancy, giving birth, and nursing a baby all cause major changes in a woman’s body — from physical trauma to hormonal changes. Your doctor may tell you when your body is likely to be physically capable of intercourse, but that doesn’t mean you have to resume sexual activity then. Talk with your partner about what you’re going through and what you’re feeling and let them know that their patience and understanding are appreciated.
Being a new mom isn’t easy. But when you have a minute here and there to catch your breath and watch that beautiful baby sleeping peacefully, you’ll be reassured that motherhood is going to be incredibly rewarding.
Learn About Virtual Care Services at Baptist Health
When getting to the doctor just isn’t practical, virtual care can be a great alternative. Find a Baptist Health provider and talk with them about the services they can provide remotely.
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