Here’s the Key to Surviving the First Weeks with a Newborn

July 05, 2018 0 Comments

Here’s the Key to Surviving the First Weeks with a Newborn

Congratulations! It’s a wonderful and delightful time to have a new baby. But it can also be an overwhelming, exhausting and chaotic time especially during the first 6 weeks.

Many new mums thought they’re prepared for this massive change. But after giving birth it seems like a blur. And the first weeks are just demanding and unpredictable. No sleep. No time to prepare the meals. And yes, no time to take a shower.

So as a new mum how will you survive those first weeks? How can you have enough time to take a shower? More importantly, how can you still keep yourself in shape so you can best care for your baby?

We’ll explore the answers in this guide. For now, here are some of the most important points you can take from this comprehensive article:

  • Care for yourself (so you can best care for your baby)
  • Sleep when the baby sleeps (sleep deprivation is the enemy)
  • Ask and accept help (from your partner, friends and family close by)
  • Sit down and relax as much as possible
  • Prepare quick meals & easy recipes
  • Cut down on caffeine (up to 1 or 2 mugs of coffee only)
  • Learn how to properly care for your baby (more rest to you and your newborn)

Read on if you want to learn more about surviving (and possibly enjoying) your time at home when caring for your baby during the initial weeks.

Care for yourself & stay healthy

Sounds impossible, doesn’t it? But remember that if you can’t care for yourself, it’s almost impossible to properly care for anyone else. It starts with you as the mum and the one person your newborn baby will spend the most time with.

One of the most common and heaviest challenges as a new mum is getting enough sleep. Life with a new baby is very unpredictable and this can really affect your sleep patterns. Every now and then there’s always something to do. Many new mums even say that they’re only getting 4 hours sleep in some days.

That’s why it’s highly recommended to rest or sleep when the baby sleeps. This is only possible if you ask and accept help from other people. This way you can catch up on your sleep and stay alert each day. Sleep deprivation can affect your mental focus, mood, immune system, blood pressure and even your physical balance and coordination. Directly or indirectly, your lack of sleep will also affect your baby.

New parents need all the support they can get. This is especially the case with single parents who might attempt to do all the work themselves. Even mums who already had their second or third baby still need some help and support during the first weeks with their newborns.

How to relax & save more energy

Aside from getting more sleep, it’s also good to relax and save energy as much as possible. This way you’ll have more mental clarity and physical energy to care and interact with your baby. But how do you accomplish all these?

Again, it’s always good to have help and support close by. For instance, get your partner to bath and change the baby. This will give you a break and also provide an opportunity to your baby to get to know both parents. If you have a family close by who can bath and change the baby, you can also ask for their help.

Your friends can also help by doing the shopping and other small chores. Most of the time, they’ll be glad to help and feel useful. If they’re more experienced parents than you, they’ll be willing to lend a hand because they know how challenging it is to care for a newborn baby. When your friends do some of the tasks in your behalf, you’ll get more breaks and rest during the day. You could then better focus on your baby and avoid multi-tasking.

Are there other ways to save more energy? Another way is to sit down as much as possible when doing the daily chores. Sit down when changing a nappy. Sit down when folding the laundry or doing some basic cleaning. And so on.

Also make food preparation simpler and easier. Cooking meals and snacks may take away at least 3 hours of your time each day. That’s why many mums snack on fresh fruit instead and avoid cooking as much as possible. When it comes to meals, they prepare simple foods (but still nutritious). Quick meals and easy recipes are the mum’s new friends. This way, new mums will save time while still acquiring the nutrients they need. For example, many mums prepare salads with some lean grilled meat and fish. They also choose canned fish for easy and quick meal preparation. These are quick meals and yet they still provide rich nutrients for you.

The goal here is to keep housework to a minimum and reserve energy as much as possible. It’s only for a few weeks (could be 6 weeks maximum) that everything will be disorganised and overwhelming. After that (especially when your baby is already 3 or 4 months old), you’ll get more organised and settled. Your attention should mostly be on yourself and your baby. Everything else can wait.

Beware of caffeine

Taking that extra cup of coffee is really tempting. Many parents even have made it a habit to drink coffee after a snack or meal. After all, they want that extra jolt of energy and alertness during these sleep-deprived times.

But do you really need it? And are you aware that your caffeine intake may affect your breastfeeding and your baby?

Although it’s still unclear whether caffeine truly enters the breast milk or not, it’s always best to err on the side of caution. Some mums reported that their coffee intake affected their babies’ mood (e.g. babies seem restless or having difficulty falling asleep). It might be the same case to you and your baby, which is why it’s ideal to limit your caffeine intake (common recommendation is below 200mg of caffeine daily, about 1 or 2 mugs of coffee to be safe). Some mums even totally shut off coffee if they noticed their babies are restless.

Taking that extra cup of coffee may also make you more sleep-deprived. Caffeine’s effects might be at its peak after 30 minutes of drinking coffee, tea or energy drink. Small amounts of caffeine might stay in your bloodstream even after 4 or 6 hours. As a result, you might find it hard to fall asleep throughout the night because of that extra cup of coffee you took at 5 or 7pm. So limit your caffeine intake starting today or totally stay away from it if you noticed your baby is getting restless and/or cranky.

How to look after your baby

Did you know that your newborn might be experiencing more overwhelm and stress in the first few weeks than you?

After all, everything’s unfamiliar and scary. You, your home and everything else is strange to your baby. Your baby has just left your womb which was a dark and snug place. Out here the various sounds, smells and sights could scare your baby and make it hard for him or her to rest and fall asleep. The baby’s lack of rest and sleep might have an effect to his or her brain and physical development.

And yes, if your baby is restless, so are you. That’s why it’s important to learn how to properly care for and soothe your baby. This way, he or she can get back to sleep quickly (and you also get your sleep). So here are a few quick tips and insights to comfort and care for your baby:

  • Quickly comfort your baby (so he or she will cry less)
  • Cuddle your baby (provides a similar comforting feel as when he or she was in the womb)
  • Skin-to-skin contact is often comforting to the baby
  • Put your baby in the pram and go for a walk (this may calm you both because of the outdoors and fresh air)
  • It takes time to calm down a baby (and some babies cry more often than you ever thought possible)
  • Try various approaches (first few weeks are periods of exploration, you still don’t know anything about your baby)

You will survive the first weeks with a newborn

If you follow the tips above and regularly take your baby to the Early Childhood Health Service in your area, the first weeks with your newborn will be much easier. You and your lovely baby will get enough rest and enjoy more your time together.

It’s an entirely wonderful experience and this won’t last long. The clocks run fast and before you know it your baby is already a toddler. That’s why you should enjoy this time and really get to know your baby well.