No one ever said that becoming a mom would be easy; in fact, if you’ve found yourself browsing the Internet at some godforsaken time in the morning, or have entered the realm of the mommy forum, there’s a good chance you’re somewhat terrified right about now. Are you about to enter into motherhood, or undertake a military operation during which failure is not an option? You see, while becoming a mommy is supposed to be one of the most natural things a woman can do, parenthood isn’t without its difficulties. From knowing how to feed, dress, wind, and change a baby, to worrying about your child’s development and where they sit on certain scales and charts, new moms face a tremendous number of challenges – and that’s just during the first weeks. The strategies you develop to cope with these anxieties are what will set you apart from each challenge, and settle you into the routines of motherhood; yes, it can be done, and we’re going to tell you how.
Combatting common new mom challenges
The truth is that moms never stop worrying. Regardless of whether that mommy is lovingly cradling a baby bump, hopping about from foot to foot trying to bounce a screaming baby into submission, or waiting up until past midnight for an errant teen to return home, mothers will worry about anything and everything – almost as instinctively as a soothing cuddle. It may feel as though every new day brings a different set of challenges, but motherhood is also likely to be the greatest adventure you ever embark upon; frustrating, emotional, but often uplifting, becoming a mommy is like nothing else you’ve ever experienced – and the challenges you’ll face take some getting used to.
Sleep deprivation is one of the most commonly feared challenges to face new moms; while those final weeks of pregnancy, with their hot flushes, restricted bladder, and swollen limbs, will introduce the idea of sleepless nights to an extent, nothing quite prepares new parents for the feeling of despair that can hit during your fifth feed of the night. The key to tackling sleep deprivation is to remember that it’s not forever; many babies will be sleeping for five or more consecutive hours by the time they reach five or six months old, while sleeping patterns will come in time. In the meantime remember to sleep when your baby sleeps, regardless of the housework, and to share parental responsibilities fairly. It’s also completely okay to remind friends and family that it’s not convenient for them to turn up unannounced, unless they’re planning on handling childcare while you nap – and vital that you remember your phone has an off function…
Supporting your baby’s development
Next to deciding how to feed your baby and tackling sleep deprivation, understanding your little one’s milestones and ensuring they’re where they need to be in terms of physical and cognitive development are likely to be the greatest challenges you’ll face as a new mom; you could spend hours reading medical journeys and baby books, and researching on the Internet, but your baby is likely to be a law unto itself – and not about to play ball just because you asked him or her to. From the moment your baby is born he or she will begin to process the world, and it’s important to know how best to support this journey; sensory toys, time spent kicking on a tummy time mat or under a baby gym, and plenty of eye contact, communication, and cuddles during those early weeks will ensure that your child has the best start in life – and it really is that simple. Indeed, tummy time is extremely important for your baby’s development and a tummy time mat may well become one of your greatest investments as your baby learns to roll, reach, grab, and, finally, crawl, and those playful giggles will let you know that you’re doing okay.
Isolation, and the “Baby Blues”
It’s so easy to feel isolated during those early moments of motherhood. In fact, not only isolated, but as though you’ve become a completely different person, no longer able to connect with your closest friends and family – particularly if those friends have yet to experience motherhood or its trials. Social media, mom forums, and time spent out of the house can be fantastic remedies for such feelings, although it’s also okay if you’d like to spend time indoors bonding with your baby.
It’s estimated that up to 80% of women will experience “the baby blues” in the days and weeks following their baby’s birth, and it’s important to take care of yourself as your hormones settle and a routine develops; allowing yourself mental respite, taking a moment to leave the house by yourself, remembering to eat and drink even when you don’t feel like it, and enjoying the closeness of skin-to-skin contact with your baby can all help these feelings of sadness and confusion to dissipate. However, if you notice that you’re still feeling low more than three weeks following the birth of your baby, that you’re struggling to take care of yourself, or that you cannot shake the emotions that are overwhelming you, please do seek medical advice. Post partum depression is a serious condition that will dominate a new mom’s life if it’s allowed to take hold.
Of course, each new baby brings its own set of challenges, and things that work for one newborn won’t always work for another. Indeed, if this is your second baby you’ll no doubt have noticed that you’re handling every situation completely differently to how you tackled it first time round. While the challenges that motherhood introduces will confuse, frustrate, and upset in equal measure, each new mom will discover that she has her own strategies for handling such eventualities; you’re doing so well, mommy – don’t ever let that niggling voice in your head tell you otherwise.