Psychologist Corinne Sweet shares her top tips
Although having a new baby can be an exciting time for a growing family, research1 by Dentinox, the experts in baby care, has revealed the hardest things about being a new parent include lack of sleep, being faced with new responsibilities, reduced self-confidence and the struggle of trying to lose baby weight.
No matter how prepared you think you are, having a baby is a shock to the system. Combine that with everything you need to learn and do, a whole range of hormonal and physical changes, feeling sleep deprived and frazzled it really is a time to be kind to yourself.
So how best can you look after yourself whilst looking after your new little one too?
Go easy on yourself – You won’t know everything all at once. Having a baby is a huge learning curve, so be as gentle on yourself as you are on your little one. You are not perfect and can’t be a perfect parent overnight. Allow yourself to go step by step. You may make mistakes, you may feel unsure, you may be tearful (most likely). That’s OK. It’s normal. Accept help from family and friends and enjoy some quiet time when you can.
Grab sleep - Babies have no idea whether it’s night or day and won’t settle into a routine immediately – they are all different – so give yourself a break, and sleep when they drop off. This is especially important in the early hours and days. Ask your partner or a trusted relative or friend to walk the baby around while you get some shut-eye. Sleep is gold dust in these early times, and the baby will soon settle into a routine and you will catch up (at least a bit) eventually.
Your body will be all over the place – and that is fine - Whether you have had a natural birth or a Caesarean, there is a lot of wear and tear on your body when you first have your baby. Don’t put yourself under pressure to be perfect or spring back into shape like an ‘A’ Lister – they have personal trainers, staff, help 24/7. You need time to mend, recover and regain your strength so when you do feel ready, start with gentle exercises such as walking and moving and soon you will start feeling like you again.
Expect Romantic Disruption – a lot of women worry how their relationship will be affected. Quite often your partner can feel a bit jealous of the extreme closeness of mother and baby, particularly if you are breastfeeding on demand. Make sure your partner gets to hold and bond with the baby, and that they get to feed them too if you are on a bottle, or if you express milk. It is a time of adjustment for you all and the baby will take up a lot of emotional and physical time. But rest assured it is all natural and things will level out.
Get support – if you feel snappy or weepy, talk about it with a friend or family member. Cry if you need to and let it all out. If people offer to cook for you, or do some housework, say ‘yes’. Take all the support you can get. Don’t worry about being beholden – what goes around comes around in the end.
Limit gadgets – put on some gentle music especially when it comes to rest, but don’t sit for hours at a computer or be online all the time. Spend time enjoying being with your baby, especially in the early days.
When you go out for a walk with them in a sling or buggy, talk to them, sing to them, be with them. Babies love close proximity and to hear your voice and heartbeat.
Accept your new life is here – things will never be the same, and that’s fine. A lot of people feel worried about not going out as much, or how their friends will feel about them. You have taken a huge new step in life, and it will take time to learn your new skills. Be good to you and cut yourself some slack. Take it one step at a time and enjoy!
Psychologist Corinne Sweet has recently teamed up with Dentinox to launch its new Kindness to New Mums campaign. For more information please visit www.dentinox.co.uk