Well, Ben has been with us for one whole month tomorrow. When I wrote my first post I was obviously in the ignorant throes of that blissful first two weeks of a baby’s life, where it just sleeps contentedly and you think you’ve got this whole parenting thing wrapped.
Since then it’s been less easygoing but still pretty wonderful, as we get to know the little bugger. Last night while I paced the house from 2-4am trying to get him back to sleep, I started compiling a list of pointers on how to survive the first month and here they are:
- Look after yourself. This gets told to you countless times by well meaning friends and family but if you’re like me you probably ignore this advice completely. “I can handle this childbirth/newborn thing, I’ve done it before and I am SUPERwoman!”. No, you’re not.
- Your body can only handle so much sleep deprivation and stress before it stops working. Which is why I got mastitis and gastro, because I was rushing around trying to do everything I normally do, as well as recover from birth and everything else. Take your vitamins, put your feet up, watch some TV, drink some tea and just try to relax in those precious minutes when you can.
- Accept help. You can’t do this by yourself. If you are lucky enough to have family or friends who offer help, rope them in. Let them take the baby for a walk while you have a shower, check emails, or eat some breakfast. It does take a village to raise a child but we don’t have villages these days, so we need to take what we can get.
- Sometimes, babies just cry. And there’s not much you can do about it. It’s okay to let them fuss a little bit and often they go back to sleep, all on their own. I’ve learned not to jump up at every squawk, but to rather wait a minute or two and then go and check out what the problem is.
- Get out of the house. This may not be possible for the first few days or weeks but it’s imperative to realise that life does go on and you won’t always be trapped inside, at the whim of a tiny baby. Take 20 minutes to go for a walk, pop to the shops or get some air – it will do you the world of good.
- Get dressed. Yes this may sound obvious but when you’re hardly sleeping, it can be tempting to remain in your comfy pyjamas all day long. This only makes you feel worse. Take a shower, throw on some clothes, or put on some make up. You’ll feel more like yourself.
- Know that “This too, shall pass”. Even in the silent hours of the night while you feel so alone, as you desperately try and get that baby sleeping again, know that it won’t be forever. This is a small price to pay for the joy of parenthood and it will soon improve.
- And lastly, adjust your expectations. Your life will never be the same. Get used to it.