Finding a new normal – adjusting after birth

Far too often, perceptions about parenting make it seem as if pregnancy and giving birth is a completely blissful experience. Of course, this is an incredibly joyous time for a family… But, the reality is that parenthood can also be daunting and exhausting. It can take some time to find your new normal. And it can often include many conflicting emotions for new parents.

We plan the birth, the nursery and ensure that mom is well taken care of while pregnant.  The funny thing is that we give little thought to what life will really be like once baby has arrived. You hear the stories of lack of sleep… New parents complaining about the fact that they feel they’re in a constant loop of sleep, feed, burp and nappies.

While this may seem light hearted, the fact is that lack of sleep, coupled with mental and physical exhaustion that comes from disturbed sleeping patterns, can have a massive impact on your wellbeing. As a new parent, you must try to adjust… To find a new normal as best you can, as your routine will change drastically.

You’ll receive lots of advice on how to manage this new journey, but remember not to be too hard on yourself.  Like anything in life, change takes time to adjust to. Settling into a new pattern once your baby arrives can be hard. Not all things can be planned, but they can be managed and understood.

New Normal cover

The reality is that you are going to have blissful days with your baby and others will feel like a whirlwind… with you in the ‘eye of the storm’. This is completely normal, a new normal, but still! It is no reflection on your abilities as a parent, who you are, or your parenting skills… Especially while you are to trying to get a handle on this new phase of your life.

If you start to feel completely overwhelmed, don’t be afraid to ask for help! Seek insight from your GP, paediatrician or clinic sisters. They can provide you with the support you might need during this time.  Many have heard terms like ‘baby blues’ or post-partum depression. These are very real issues for many women. But, if managed correctly, life for any new parent will start to feel ‘normal’ again.

So, enjoy your new bundle of joy and remember – It’s okay to take some time to adjust after giving birth!

These tips may help a bit
  • You are not superwoman – nor do you have to be. If family and friends offer help – take it. Take time out, if you are able to, even if you just tpop to the shops or the hair dresser for an hour.
  • Remember, your sleep is just as important as your baby’s. Try and sleep when your child sleeps, especially during the day. This will boost your energy levels when the baby wakes up.
  • Try and meet other new moms, as they offer a great support structure. Attend a baby massage class or a baby stimulation class. These are not only great for your new born, they give you the opportunity to bond with your little one. While also meeting other new moms who may be going through the same things as you.
  • Create ‘new’ routines – bath and feeding time can still be a fun experience. For example, why not bath with baby? And afterwards hand baby to dad to change, while you take some time for yourself in the bath and relax after a long day.  Everyone gets to bond with baby and you get some time to yourself.
  • Don’t forget to eat well – and stay well hydrated. Your body will need extra support over this time – so don’t neglect your own needs.
There is so much advice on how to handle the first few months of a new born.

In the end, each household will find their own routine and the new normal that works for them.

Don’t be too quick to follow advice found online. Rather trust your instincts and give yourself time to adjust to parenthood. It’s not something that happens overnight; you have a lifetime with your child. Having a child is a life changing experience, but it can also be a physically challenging and a deeply emotional time. Take time – the time needed to recover, enjoy and foster your new family member.

*This article is an exclusive column from Dr Diana Du Plessis, spokesperson for Philips Mother and Child Division.

Dr Diana du Plessis

Dr Diana du Plessis

Dr. Diana du Plessis is the Breastfeeding Consultant and spokesperson for Phillips Avent South Africa.
She obtained a B.Soc.Sc (Hons) at the University of the Free State, after which she worked as an operating room registered nurse in the Universitas and National Hospitals in Bloemfontein, receiving the Diploma in Operating Room Technique in 1978. She commenced her academic career in the Department of Nursing (UFS) in 1982 and holds diplomas in Nursing Administration (cum laude), Nursing Education and Community Health Nursing (cum laude) while being employed in the Department of Nursing at the University of the Free State. Later she obtained M.Cur and D.Cur in Midwifery and Neonatology from the University of Johannesburg. Dr du Plessis is in private midwifery clinical practice for the past 19 years.

3 Comments
  1. Loved this piece. I remember those early days and feeling like I had to do absolutely everything and anything on my own. It took me awhile to adjust to allowing myself a break and getting family involved so I could rest with baby.

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