Ways of adapting to a newborn
Even if you’ve had a baby before, a newborn in the house takes some adapting to. Priyanka Naidoo, Transformation Life Coach, dispenses some welcome tips for coping.
Whether you’re a new or experienced mama, it’s a fact that having a newborn transforms your world. Let’s leave the obvious things like poopy diapers and midnight feeds aside for now – let’s delve into the real emotion that new mothers experience when this little precious bundle of joy comes into the world.
You will find some moments a bit overwhelming – this is normal. Let’s look at some practical strategies to help you adjust to your new chapter.
- Practise breathing
You may think I’m talking about the typical hee-hoo breathing that we see in the movies … No, not that kind. I’m talking about mindful breathing: it is a scientific fact that slower, calmer breaths send signals to the brain that release chemicals that put you at ease and in control. By mindfully shifting your breathing rate and pattern, you can stimulate the body’s natural relaxation response. What is mindful breath? Take a long, slow breath in through your nose, first filling your lower lungs, then your upper lungs. Hold your breath to the count of three. Exhale slowly through pursed lips, while you relax the muscles in your face, jaw, shoulders, and stomach.
Practise this calming breath at least five times a day for several weeks. Use it during times of panic, stress and overwhelm.
- Important versus urgent
Everything is important. Start managing what is urgent versus important in your day. You just have to literally take your foot off the accelerator, because the stress will create anxiety for you and the baby.
I hear you saying there’s just not enough time and before you know it the baby will be here! Truth is, everything that will need to get done will be done before your adorable little sweet-cheeks is here.
Assign roles and responsibilities to your spouse/partner/mom/nanny – this allows others to support you and you can also know that you have people you can lean on.
- Set clear boundaries
Are you willing to answer work calls if you are on maternity leave? If so, the moment you do, the expectation to be available will persist and you will feel like you are still working.
How many people will be staying at your home to help you and/or visit you when the baby arrives? This is a tricky one and we often feel obliged to have the extra help, or to have family stay for an amount of time to help. This may differ culturally, but the time-frame must be discussed. The moment you start feeling overwhelmed or stifled in your own space, you need to address those concerns with your visitors/family.
So it’s Day 3 – we all have either heard about this day – where the milk comes in and you may have an emotional meltdown. Warn your significant other or family about this, and then allow yourself to cry! You just brought a human into this world – you are amazing!
Many new moms may battle with expressing their mix of emotions – joy, elation, fear, frustration, anxiety. You need to allow yourself some time to process this huge milestone. Be patient with yourself and let others in your environment know what you need and when you require support.
- Be present
Constant talk about the birth and arrival of the baby actually shifts your current focus into the future – the future where the baby is here, every weekend, and any conversation you have is centred around the baby and what still needs to be done. You also need to enjoy this journey and mentally prepare for this transition as much as possible.
Being present for the now, and intentional about the future arrival will centre you. A mother’s hormones are changing, and your body is growing and changing at an incredible pace – self-care is very important for you and the baby. A few minutes of quiet time journaling or sipping a cup of tea with bring you a sense of “me-time” in your day.
- Limit negative comment/opinion
Be intentional about the people you have around and the comments you receive and consider as true during this time. Your parents, friends, colleagues will always be the “experts” on parenting because they have been there before. You need to focus! Don’t spend energy arguing or entertaining negative conversations. The negative emotion will create a ripple effect of tension for you and your baby. Simply apply Step 1.
Tell yourself you are amazing and are doing a great job – because you really are.
- Preserve these first moments with your new baby
NICU mamas, you will experience more unsettling emotions. You need to know that your baby is a fighter and so are you. Be kind to yourself. Surround yourself with people who will keep you encouraged.
Remember you are never alone – reach out to a close friend or family member to just listen to you. With every growing month of your baby, you are also adapting. You are in the realm of raising a family and remember you are creating, nurturing and giving life each day. Each day take a step back, breathe and know that you mama, are doing a great job.