Surviving the First Few Weeks of Parenthood
November 28, 2017
Your baby adjusting to life outside the womb means adjusting for everyone. Parents must learn how their baby communicates and how to best meet their baby’s needs, at any and all hours of the day. The first few weeks of parenthood are not for the faint of heart, but there are some ways to make it easier. Here are some tips for surviving the first few weeks of parenthood.
Manage your expectations
When you see celebrities and their newborn babies on the cover of magazines looking as glamorous as ever, don’t believe it. They’re tired, too. Expect to lose some sleep. Expect to feel excitement and to be nervous, a lot. Expect to have less time for yourself. Expect to strive for routine and normalcy, but don’t expect it to come easy. This is a transitional period for you and your baby, and change is never easy. But expect to have more joy and love in your heart than you’ve ever felt in your life.
See a lactation specialist
If you’re planning on breastfeeding, plan to see a lactation specialist in the first few weeks, preferably the first week. Even if things seem to be going well, it’s important to have a professional observe to make sure there is nothing that could cause problems down the road. The way you hold your baby, the way they latch, the positioning of their head, etc. are all important factors that contribute to the success of your breastfeeding. Lactation specialists will often make house calls and will come frequently if necessary, so set this up ahead of time so one comes to your home during those first few weeks.
Be gentle on yourself
Don’t try to impress anyone during this time. Recovery is painful and can take several weeks or longer. Focus on how you feel, not how you look. Take care of yourself mentally as well as physically. If you need to get out of the house, recruit some help so you can go for a walk, go shopping, or even go to a movie by yourself. Make sure that you’re staying hydrated and well-nourished. Make sure both parents understand each other’s needs and work to meet them.
Take shifts sleeping
Although they sleep a lot, up to 20 hours per day, babies rarely sleep more than a few hours at a time. They must eat round the clock, so expect to lose some sleep as you adjust to a new sleep schedule. If you’re able to fall asleep easily at any time, then the advice “sleep when the baby sleeps” applies to you. If not, take shifts with your partner or even ask a family member to come help out during the first few weeks so you can sleep longer at night. Alternating nights of who gets up with baby and who sleeps longer can help you both stay somewhat well-rested.
Spoil that baby
Imagine what your baby is going through after having lived in your warm, cozy womb for the past 9ish months. If you thought your transition was difficult, have some sympathy. Do your best to give your baby all the comfort he/she needs. It is not possible to spoil a baby, so give that sweet bundle of joy all of the cuddles, snuggles, swaddles, feedings, songs, and stories you can. This helps them stay calm and learn to trust you. It helps you learn your baby, if they like walks, tummy time, the swing, etc. and can make it easy for you to know how to soothe them when they are in distress.
What advice would you tell new parents trying to survive the first few weeks of parenthood?
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