Having a baby is a life altering event. Even though there are 9 months for new parents to prepare, once that baby arrives, everything changes and suddenly you aren’t dealing with pictures in a book but rather a very real little baby who depend completely on you. Leaving the hospital can seem daunting and surviving your first 6 weeks with your new-born will be as much a milestone for them as it will be for you. Those first 6 weeks are probably the most challenging while you, your baby and your partner adjust to your new normal.
What can you really expect in those first 6 weeks of your baby’s life?
Very little sleep. You little one may be a good sleeper and get into a good routine early on but the fact is that babies need to be fed every 4-6 hours so your little one will wake up regularly. If your new born does sleep for long periods, you will probably be awake checking they are still ok. Very few new parents are prepared for the lack of sleep that comes with a new born. Your new born should develop a routine at around 6 weeks.
Frustration. Your new born will cry, they will cry a lot, more than you are ready for. Sometimes you will get it right and interpret their crying correctly but sometimes nothing you do will calm them, this is often normal but it can be very frustrating for new parents. Breastfeeding can also be a cause for some frustration as can interrupted sleep, especially when you have done everything correctly. This is normal and something every new mom feels, if you develop negative feelings towards your baby then it is advisable to contact your healthcare provider.
It will feel like you are getting nothing done. New-born’s sleep, eat and need to be changed and yet they will keep you busy all day (and all night). You will put your little one down for their nap and try to tidy the house or make dinner but before you are done your baby will be wide awake needing you. It is a good idea to lower your expectations of what needs to be done every day and get some help.
Isolation. Having a new baby can leave you feeling isolated. You spend your days responding to every sound your baby makes, feeding them, changing them and interacting with them. While this can be extremely fulfilling and everything you wanted, you will still feel isolated. You friends aren’t dealing with nappies and colic, they are still working and continuing with their lives, while you are with your baby every day. Try to get out of your house at least once a day, take your baby for a walk around the block, pop in to the shops or invite a friend around for coffee.
You will feel clueless. Regardless of how many baby books you have read, there will be times you feel completely clueless. You will try a range of bottles and your little one will reject them all, you will rock your baby, swaddle them, co-sleep, put them in their cot but they will just not fall asleep. You will look at your baby and feel ill-prepared to parent them. This is something all new parents feel and it doesn’t really go away. The key is to learn to trust yourself and your instincts as a mother. Despite what you feel, you know your baby the best, you know exactly what they need. Find what works for you and do that.
There will be resentment. If your partner is unable to stay at home with you, there will be days you will feel resentment, just because he gets to leave the house and go to work. You probably don’t want to go back to work or even go out for drinks after work, like he may do but you will still resent him for going about his life like normal. It is important to communicate these feelings to your partner so that the resentment doesn’t become all consuming. Talk to them about how you are feeling and encourage him to take your baby for a while when he gets home so you can have a relaxing bath or even go out to meet a friend. While feeling resentful during this time is normal, it can take on a life of its own if you do not acknowledge it and deal with it.
Your bond will grow stronger. Giving birth is an incredible experience, you will feel overwhelmed with emotions. Not all moms bond immediately with their baby, they do love their child but the bond can take some time to develop. This will happen in those first 6 weeks as you get to know your baby, learn what their different cries mean and figure out how to co-exist. It is very important to take these first six weeks and allow yourself to bond with your baby.
Many new moms say that life gets easier after those first six weeks, allow yourself that time to adjust to the arrival of your baby. Don’t focus on developing routines, cleaning the house or making sure you are stimulating your baby enough, just enjoy being a mom. It is also important to remember that life with your new born may not be what you expected. Allow yourself to adjust to your new normal, try not to get too upset when plans change or things don’t go exactly according to the plan.
The most important thing is to focus on allowing your body to heal and taking care of your new baby. Involve your partner as much as you can to make life a little easier and learn to trust that you do know what you are doing and that you are everything your baby needs.