Congratulations, you’re a first time mum! You made it through the birth – funny how quickly you forget the pain – and the health professionals have agreed you’re ready to be released back into the wild.
You’re ready to get on with life as a new mum, with Junior snuggled safely in your arms. Hang on. You do know it’s not that easy, right?
Even the best-prepared parents-to-be will often admit the reality of having a new, tiny person to care for comes as a bit of a shock. But don’t worry – you’ll soon get the hang of it, especially if you follow our suggestions for making the first month easier.
1When you get the chance to sleep, take it
There’s a reason why sleep deprivation has been used as a form of torture throughout history. It attacks a person’s mental and physical health, affecting speech, judgement and core functions. It’s an assault on the entire biological system.
Even though in your case the cause is an adorable little being that you love with all your heart, it doesn’t make it any easier. The chances are you’ll find yourself wakened suddenly and mercilessly at least twice a night for the first few weeks, so if there’s an opportunity to nap – TAKE IT.
When baby sleeps, you sleep. It doesn’t matter about the washing up. And don’t say you feel groggy if you sleep during the day – when you’ve got a newborn, ‘groggy’ is the new normal anyway.
2Accept all offers of food
Don’t be proud. Nobody expects you to be Superwoman, whipping up a delicious pasta bake with one hand while changing baby’s nappy with the other.
If people offer to bring you meals, let them – whether it’s one of your mother-in-law’s slow-cooked casseroles or a mate picking up a pizza from the takeaway.
If you don’t look after yourself, you’ll be no use when it comes to looking after your new baby – you need nourishment every bit as much as Junior.
3Put off visitors until you’re ready
You’ll no doubt be overwhelmed by friends who can’t wait to see this little scrap of life you’ve created. Everyone wants to be among the first, and you’ll come under pressure from people asking if they can ‘just pop round’.
Remember – you don’t have to say yes. If you’re still settling in to your new role as a first time mum, ask them to wait a while.
Ok, it’s a bit more difficult with family and those you’re close to, but try this as a rule of thumb – if you’re not comfortable asking them to make their own coffee, if you’d feel embarrassed about them seeing dirty dishes in the sink or an overflowing laundry basket, they’re not part of that group. Nobody should visit and expect to be treated like an honoured guest when you’ve just a baby.
4Ignore the housework
You know what? Your baby doesn’t care if you’ve dusted the bookshelves, or if the hand basin in the bathroom is so clean it sparkles. He or she cares about having you close.
As long as you’re not letting things slide into total squalor, don’t worry – it’s ok to lower your standards for a while. Pass the Domestic Goddess crown on to someone who has time to polish it properly, and just enjoy getting to know your new son or daughter.
5Embrace online shopping
The internet is a wonderful thing. It keeps you up to speed with the latest celeb gossip, you can stalk your old friends on social media and, best of all, it can bring you food and other household essentials.
Most supermarkets now offer online grocery shopping and deliver at a time of your choosing, and once you’re set up repeat orders are quick and simple to do. Even if you prefer to shop in person and pick out your own items, consider it for the first few weeks. It will make life easier.
6Connect with other new mums
If you’ve attended birth classes, you might have met other local new parents-to-be there. But sometimes, at 3am, when you’re wide awake and exhausted from dealing with a screaming newborn for two hours, you want someone who understands right now. Search for Facebook groups or online forums and make some new friends who know what you’re dealing with. They don’t need to be nearby – your 4am is someone else’s mid-morning so they’re likely to be there just when you need someone to remind you you’re doing fine – even if it doesn’t feel like it.