You are amazing, You are a strong and capable woman, You can do this!
If you are reading this while expecting your first born child, great job! Research is started and you want some tips and tricks, if you are reading this 4 months post partum I have a feeling you may need this to see if things are, well, “normal”. We are going to give you a list of things to be aware of and what to expect once your baby is born.
Deep breath, lets go!
- The psychological shift: When you are expecting your first child, you prepare your home, your lifestyle and your mind to become a parent. You become ready, protective, humbled and have a love for your child like no other feeling you have experienced. What a lot of people do not talk about is the dramatic shift that happens once your child is born. The oxytocin from your birth has now worn off, the birth high is gone, your body is releasing anything that remained after your child is born. You may experience an imbalance of hormones as well, this transition alone can be extremely delicate. It is such an emotional and psychological shift, so just be aware of this. In addition, know that there are friends, family, midwives, doulas and medical support that can help you through.
- Baby is new to this too!: Just as you are experiencing a new shift in life, imagine your poor baby boy or girl. It is their first time out of the womb. They are completely new to the world and experiencing all senses at once. Touch, smell, sound, sight and taste. All the while not knowing how to control their motor skills, hunger pain, bowel movements, discomforts and not knowing how to communicate anything at all. You can only imagine their frustration. So take things slow. Let your baby understand their surroundings so that you can get to know their needs all at the same time. Be patient during this time.
- Sleep is a MUST: Of course each baby will have varied sleeping patterns. Some mothers are lucky to have a baby who loves their sleep. Keep in mind, this is far and few between! most babies only sleep a few hours at a time. Try your best to at least rest or cat nap when your child is sleeping so it can make up for the hours lost at nighttime. This is where your partner can assist. If you are NOT exclusively breastfeeding, take turns with your partner so they too can build their relationship with your child by feeding them in the wee hours of the night. Also by hiring a post partum Doula, you allow both yourself and your partner to get a great nights sleep!
- Meal prep: If you have not invested in a deep freezer, now is the time! By preparing freezer friendly meals for you and your family it will take some of the stress of making a single meal at one time. Take out the frozen lasagna you prepped before baby for dinner this will be a life savour. If you did not prep before hand no worries! make 2 meals in one go if you can and freeze the additional meal for later. The bigger portion sizes the better. Do not fear leftovers!
- Breastfeeding vs. Formula: This topic is debatable but it is all about your personal preference. Breastfeeding is great as it connects you with your child and is completely FREE. However, this means you will be exclusively feeding your child (with the exception of frozen breastmilk fed though a bottle). You will also be feeding your newborn more often with this option. Should you experience difficulties it is vital for you to connect with an IBCLC (lactation consultant) to assist you. If you are more comfortable with formula feeding that option is great as well. It allows other to help you feed your newborn and your baby will not have to feed as often. The downfall with this option is the cost of formula, on average Canadian families will spend approximately $1260-$1920 a year on formula for their child.
- Parental Sanity: First things first, COMMUNICATION! speak to your partner, ask them how they are feeling and tell them how you are feeling. Your worry, your concerns, your joy, your emotions – EVERYTHING! By keeping a clear line of communication this will make your relationship and your new life as parents easier. Keep your relationship a priority during this important transition in your lives as it will only help you in the future to overcome all obstacles.
- Take a break: It is completely ok and acceptable to ask for help so you can rest, take a hot bath, read a book or go to dinner with your partner. Asking a God parent, grandparent, or a close friend to watch your baby for a couple hours is totally fine. Also having a Post Partum Doula for a few day shifts or a couple overnight shifts can help immensely and alleviate stress. As long as your child is cared for (which people are more than willing to) you can take a moment to sit back to make sure that you are rested and mentally sound to take care of yourself and your baby.
In short, this list can go on and on. Do your best to remain open and understanding through this time and know that help is at the touch of a button. You are surrounded by loved ones willing to help you, so do not feel too prideful to ask for a hand. Your baby is NORMAL, you are NORMAL, motherhood is NORMAL, and this transition is NORMAL. Talk about your struggles and be open to the idea that nothing will be completely perfect. You will do the best you can and you are doing the best you can!