When you bring your newborn home, it should be a time of bliss but when my daughter Madison was born, it was a difficult adjustment. My husband and I were in complete survival mode that first week home from the hospital. It was hard to enjoy this newborn stage. During those sleepless nights, there were 5 things that I learned during my first week as a mom that helped me enjoy my newborn.
1. It is a transition for my child also
Parenthood is a difficult transition for us,
Your baby’s whole world has changed. The womb was all she knew. Now she is experiencing new sensations like a soiled diaper, hunger, the cold and doesn’t know what to do.
During the difficult nights, where she just wouldn’t sleep or need to be held. I would remind myself that she’s also adjusting. This is hard for her too. She’s struggling in this new world and she’s relying on me to comfort her, love her and care for her.
I want to encourage new parents to remind themselves of this every day. Make it a priority to remind yourself and your partner of this fact. During the nights when I felt like we were going to break, I reminded myself, that my baby is adjusting to a whole new world. It really helped me keep my calm and endure through those sleepless nights.
2. Be kind to yourself, you’re learning
Becoming a parent was a harder transition than I thought it would be. I definitely underestimated all aspects of being a new mom to a newborn.
During that first week, we questioned everything. Was she too hot? Too cold? How do we know if she’s too hot or too cold? Is her diaper on right? Is she having the right range of soiled diapers? What is that on her face? Is my baby getting enough milk? How do I know if she’s full?
It will be like this for your entire journey through parenthood. As soon as you think you got a routine with your babe, they will change again.
Trust your gut. After a few weeks, even though I didn’t quite have all her cues, we got into some kind of rhythm. I found I was able to give my daughter what she needed when she needed it.
3. Reach out for help
Parenting is not a journey to be taken alone. Taking care of a child is tough. It takes an emotional, physical, and mental toll on you. It is okay to reach out for help. My husband helped so much during the time he was off work.
When I felt like I was going to break because it was 2 AM and our baby just wouldn’t sleep; my husband would take her and rock and comfort her. He would encourage me by reminding me that it is a learning process and I am doing a great job.
My mom was another helpful presence. In the Korean culture, it is common for moms of daughters to come and help care for the newborn. I am so thankful for my mom. She took time off work to help care for us.
Each time she came, she brought ready to eat food. When I was breastfeeding, my mom started folding my laundry, doing my dishes, and preparing food for me to eat. Just being there to pick up the extra load helped me mentally and physically. Having someone around the first month helps fight postpartum depression and anxiety.
Being a parent can take an emotional toll especially with your hormones adjusting after the delivery.
Hey mama you’re not alone. Reach out to the community of moms out there who have been through what you’re going through. They can share their experiences with lack of sleep, hardship breastfeeding and adjusting to mom life. Check out your local libraries, community centers, and other local mom hangs and connect with other mamas.
Some of my closest friends were moms before me. When I felt like I wasn’t doing a good job or I was at my breaking point, I reached out to these amazing mamas. They shared with me that they have been where I have been. They provided me with comfort and encouragement that this is mom-life. Sharing our stories helped. Reach out to a community of parents. Listen and share the stories of parenthood. Be encouraged.
4. Listen to your mom gut (dad gut)
You may not think you have it, but it’s there. When you have your newborn, there will be a lot of useful and useless advice that will come your way. Likely a lot of advice that you didn’t ask for. You will find a lot of people putting in their two-cents about everything you’re doing.
Not all babies are the same, listen to your mom (or dad) gut. There is no other mom out there better for your child than you. My mother in law told me to listen to the advice that you’re given, but you don’t have to use all the advice you’re given.
Some of it may be useful but not everything will work for
5. Take time for yourself
Becoming a parent is a huge transition but it is important to remember that you’re still more than just a mom. It is so important to take some time for yourself.
Caring for a baby, no matter how well behaved or well adjusted is going to be hard. It is important for you and your partner to take turns doing things that you enjoy. Take the time to recover from the hectic day of taking care of your babe. Don’t neglect the things that made you happy before baby came along.
Being a parent is no doubt one of the greatest identities you will have, but you are not just a mom. You’re a daughter, a wife, a working woman and many other things.
The days blurred together and by the time I felt like I had a moment to
Whatever it is that you need to do to feel like yourself again, take some time to do. It will help you get through those difficult hours of the day. Take a hot shower, read a book, workout, go for a walk, do you.
These lessons I learned during my first week as a mom still help me to this day. Parenting is an ongoing learning process and there will always be hard days but remembering these 5 things, I hope will help you through those more difficult moments.
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