This is my personal perspective. I really struggled to cope with the experience and since working as a doula over the last 10 years I have tried to figure out what the difference is between those who find it a breeze and those who, like me, felt like it was hell on earth. So this is what I have discovered…
(these tips are specifically related to the first two weeks post-birth)
1. Give up control
You have a new boss with a closed door policy. In fact, this is more of a Dictator than a boss. The best thing you can do is submit to his or her will. For those of us who like to take charge, be in control and call the shots – this is a monumental task but the rewards for getting it right are many. Once you are at home with your baby, climb into bed with him/her and stay there (for the most part). Just like you may have spent two weeks in bed on your honeymoon making love, this is also time to take two weeks in bed for your babymoon to bask in the love of your new little family. The most important thing on your to-do list should be tuning in to your baby’s natural rhythm of sleeping and eating, while you might find the odd moment to do something like take a shower or grab a bite to eat. Also to point out that “in bed” can also just be on the couch or anywhere else in your house where you can relax. The idea is to have no external pressure to do anything – all you should need to do is look after your baby.
2. Live in the moment
A Newborn Baby will force you to live in the moment, whether you like it or not. They have no conscious understanding of past or future and therefore live completely in the moment themselves. An untidy house, a ringing telephone, an unanswered email and a myriad of other things that you might normally find important now need to be “let go of”. Often when you feel yourself getting frustrated it’s because there is something you want to do and your little dictator has decided that now is not the time! It’s best to take a deep breath, let it out and let go of it all – right now this baby is all that truly matters in this moment.
3. And this too shall pass
All this letting go and living in the moment can become tiresome so it’s good to remember that those first two weeks are temporary and will eventually pass. Things will get better and life will go back to being somewhat normal, eventually, even if you don’t believe it right at that moment. It’s also a reason to try and enjoy the experience if and when you can – it can feel like an eternity in the moment, but they really are only so small for a very, very short time.
4. Make Rules for Visitors
You have a new baby, you are going through a massive adjustment and you might still be recovering from the birth – the least your visitors can do is bring a meal and leave the house more tidy than when they arrived. If you don’t already have family and friends planning to help you out like this – or a housekeeper – then don’t be too polite to make some rules. It’s also okay to not have any visitors at all.
5. Nothing can really prepare you
I have yet to hear from anyone who said that they found a class, book or received a piece of information that made them feel fully prepared for what they experienced. Mothers, myself included, have never found the right words to truly explain to the uninitiated what those first weeks are like. Hard unrelenting work, learning about the unbelievable extent to which you can love another being, sleep deprivation that could break a US Navy Seal or the toughest SAS officer, the steepest and most important learning curve you’ll probably ever have, the crazy level of satisfaction from getting simple things right – feeding a baby, changing a nappy, or taking a shower yourself.