Women are relieved not to be pregnant anymore and delighted to have a new baby. They get home and a whole new life begins. It’s a life full of diapers, wipes, baby monitors, pacifiers and dribble cloths. It’s a far cry from the neat and ordered life that some led before.
There are huge gains when we have a baby, but moms have to give up what we take for granted as normal. Fatigue is the number one offender. If the baby sleeps, parents want to check they are still breathing, and mom wants to put her head down for half an hour while she has the chance. The laundry and dishes pile up, but sleep becomes the most important luxury in our lives!
Remember that there is really no such thing as normal in anyone’s life. There will be huge shifts in every area of life with your new baby. Life will never be the same again, but it will be the start of a whole new chapter and the love you have for your baby should make the whole thing sweeter. Mom might feel wistful for the moments of freedom she had before the baby arrived, but soon it’s impossible to remember life without them. Or life with a full night’s sleep!
It is probably the most common gripe of any new parents: lack of sleep. We hear the stories, we know it’s coming and yet does anything prepare us for that all-consuming exhaustion that attacks us just after a new baby arrives?
Moms have to learn to fit in naps when they can, and dads too! Babies have no concept of day or night, so they wake up and cry whenever they need something.
As parents, we are the only ones there to meet those needs, so sleep comes second to the baby. As much as we want to do the best we can, it is hard to function normally when we are so sleep deprived. Getting used to living on minimal sleep is one of the most difficult adjustments new parents face.
19 EATING AT REGULAR MEALTIMES
It is a good plan to eat when the baby sleeps and keep some healthy snacks available to pick up wherever you are. It’s really important to keep energy levels up and not to get too hungry when you are a new parent. If you don’t keep healthy snacks available, you might be more tempted to snack on unhealthy foods that won’t sustain you or help get back to your pre-baby figure.
18 GETTING DRESSED WHEN YOU WANT
There are no rules in parenting except loving our children and keeping them safe. When a mom gets dressed is not important in the grand scheme of things.
Trying to get dressed at the usual time is an uphill struggle when there is a newborn baby in the picture. Give yourself a break and just relax into it.
Even if you have spent the whole day in your pajamas, there is no one to judge you. If you feel intimidated by other moms who claim they have jogged with their babies around the park on the way to drink a wheatgrass smoothie before 8 AM and the baby is sleeping through the night, comparisons will do you no good. Accept what you have and know that it will pass.
17 GOING OUT IN THE EVENING
Even if their friends are posting pictures of nights out on Facebook, what better way to spend your evening than relaxing on the sofa knowing that you have loved and cared for your baby all day?
Take the chance to put on a film, rest and remember that the clubs and bars will still be there when the baby is older.
16 MAKING PHONE CALLS WHEN YOU CHOOSE
Organized new moms may have a list of phone calls that need to be made. Perhaps the credit card needs paying or mom needs to have her calls returned. The baby has just settled for a nap and mom might sit down with a pad of chores and a phone, only to find that the baby wakes up at just that moment.
That carefully planned list might have to fall by the wayside for now. Try and get as much done before the baby is born, set up direct payments for bills, and remind friends and family that you are not going to be able to talk as and when you choose, and when you have some free time sleep might be top of the list of priorities.
15 LEAVING THE HOUSE AT A SPECIFIC TIME
Even if you are super organized, leaving the house at a set time might be a bit hit and miss with a newborn. They need to go to the doctor every now and then for check-ups and for injections, so you may have to leave the house. However, setting a planned time for this is a great intention but the baby might have other ideas.
The stroller is ready, the bag is packed, the coats are on, and suddenly the baby decides that despite the fact that you are five minutes behind schedule, now is a perfect time to fill the diaper and the leakage it causes requires a whole new outfit. It’s not the end of the world! Laugh it off and remember that appointments can be rescheduled, and people can be understanding about you being late – you’ve got a good reason after all.
14 BEING ON YOUR OWN
The last stages of pregnancy give moms a chance to relax a bit and have some time on her own. Once that little bundle of joy arrives, that is a distant memory. It seems that there is never a moment alone and while most moms love this time with their babies, there are times when we long for a chance just to go for a walk or go to the supermarket without having to worry about where to put the baby.
If this is the case, it is worth asking for help. If you have relatives close by, ask one of them to sit with the baby for an hour or two and just go and have a coffee or get some fresh air. The baby won’t suffer and you will come back refreshed and hopefully ready to go again.
13 HAVING ALONE TIME WITH YOUR PARTNER
Those comfy nights in with a movie and a takeout might seem a lifetime away. Even further away are the nights spent in a restaurant chatting about nonsense and then going to a club. Okay, so we’re not living in a dream world.
How lovely it would be to spend that movie night in with Chinese takeout, just reflecting on how life has changed since the baby arrived and how much we all love each other, etc., etc. This might not even be a possibility for many parents, even if they are together as a couple. Mom might prefer to go to sleep than snuggle on the sofa and dad might be glued to the monitor to check the baby is still breathing! Those days will come, but hang tight for now.
12 THINKING OF YOURSELF FIRST
Human beings are often selfish creatures, and thinking of ourselves first is second nature to many people. However, once the baby comes along, their needs come first. Hence, the mom is still in her pajamas at three in the afternoon having left four cups of coffee to go cold while the baby is cooing happily in a beautiful outfit, well fed and clean and fresh.
This selflessness comes naturally for some parents, others find it more of a challenge. There’s no wrong or right to this. As long as the baby is well cared for and loved, there is nothing that prevents parents from doing things for themselves.
In fact, it is in everyone’s interest for the parents to be happy so the baby picks up on that.
11 YOUR PARTNER COMING FIRST
For moms, remember that your partner is half of the baby’s parents and needs to find his place in the family and feel included. For dads, sit down calmly with mom and ask her what you can do to help. Communicate with her and tell her how you feel, a happy outcome is possible for everyone.
10 WATCHING YOUR FAVORITE TV SHOW
We might have lived lives that revolved around the latest edition of our favorite TV program. The thrill of seeing it when it airs and being able to chat with friends about it the next day was a fun part of life. It was. Now it will be recorded and stored to watch ‘when I have time.’
When you do have time, you may prefer to sleep or read up on the best strategy for putting the baby to sleep or catch up on phone calls. Those ‘essential’ TV programs will become distant memories as family life takes precedence, it’s just another example of how life changes as a parent.
9 HAVING ANY PHYSICAL CONTROL OVER YOURSELF
We still experience discomfort for weeks, the girls may leak milk and we have little control over our emotions. It can seem as if pregnancy and birth have deprived us of the body we once knew. Remember how much hard work it has just done and give yourself a break. Your body will recover, but just for now it’s performed a miracle and it is recovering from that.
8 TAKING A SHOWER WHEN YOU WANT TO
Those days of springing out of bed and into a hot shower may seem long gone. The mornings often seem to be over before they have begun once the baby has been fed, changed, fed and changed again! Don’t despair. You could jump in for a shower during a nap, or while someone is visiting, ask if they mind if you just have a quick shower while they mind the baby.
If you prefer a bath, why not have one with the baby? Keep the water cool, but they will surely love the skin contact with mom and you both get a chance to wash.
7 DOING LAUNDRY
No doubt the baby will have enough clothes, they seem to have an endless supply. Call on your partner to help with a load or two if things run short, there will be no excuse for him not to do it all the time once he gets the hang of it!
6 GETTING HOUSEHOLD CHORES DONE
As one mom put it in response on Popsugar to why she focused on her children rather than cleaning the house: “I stay at home to be present in their lives not to make sure the house is spotless.” No one will be harmed if the bath doesn’t get cleaned and the dishes stay in the sink for a day or two. Looking after a baby is a full-time job in itself and if a mom feels pressure to do more than that, she is setting herself up for failure.
There isn’t the time to do everything we want to do and the needs of the baby come first.
Too many moms feel they are failing if they don’t achieve everything and worry about judgment if they fall short of their high expectations.
5 SPENDING TIME COOKING A MEAL
Before we have children, many of us enjoyed preparing a healthy meal for our family from scratch and took pride and enjoyment in doing so. Unless you are lucky enough to have a baby that sleeps in a routine from day one, even getting to the shops to buy groceries can be a challenge.
If you have a kindly relative or friend who can do some shopping for you, ask for help. Even better, ask someone to stock your freezer with ready-made meals or snacks that can be eaten on the go. There will be plenty of time to make family meals when the baby is older.
4 PUTTING MAKEUP ON AND DOING YOUR HAIR
We’re lucky if we have time to put on clean clothes with a newborn, never mind spend time on our hair and face. What might have seemed like a priority in the pre-baby days, now slides down the list after all the things the baby needs.
Time will come when it’s possible to focus on our appearance again, but for the first few weeks, it’s an achievement to stay clean! Look on the bright side; your skin will be grateful for a few makeup-free weeks, and it will be all the more satisfying that day you have time to blow dry and slap on the lipstick for the first time in ages.
3 GOING SHOPPING
It’s not as if you can never go shopping again, it’s more that you can’t just pop to the corner shop when you run out of something. Any trip with a newborn needs a bit of extra planning, but many babies love the car journey, the new sights and sounds, and often sleep through the whole thing.
Just the Facts Baby recommends taking the baby shopping in a sling. You have your hands free to pick up items and hopefully the baby will be so snuggled in the sling that they will sleep or happily rest while mom gets a bit of retail therapy.
2 THAT PREGNANCY GLOW
If you were lucky enough to get the glowing skin and hair that we hear about, you may be a bit sad to have lost it. Hormonal changes in our bodies mean that hair might start to fall out and fatigue may affect how we look – and not for the better. You might find that you are sweating a lot more than you remember, again you can blame those hormones for that.
Keep drinking plenty of water and try to eat healthy. Get as much sleep as you can and you will find that a new mom glow comes complete with a stroller full of joy, which is a great look in any season.
1 NORMAL THINGS THAT MOMS WEAR
Your bump will be rounded after the birth and the uterus will eventually contract back to its normal size, but again, this takes time. Mumsnet recommends choosing loose fitting tops with maternity trousers. You might be sick of the sight of the pregnancy wear, but at least you will be getting your money’s worth and you’ll be comfortable!