After the exhilaration of the birth, the joy of meeting your newborn and the relief that your pregnancy is over, it’s time to crack on with the business at hand – being a mum!  A new baby brings with it a whole heap of change and adjusting to life with this incredible little person can be tough.  Having a baby is a major life event and like any big life event, it brings stresses with it. In addition, you also have to cope with lack of sleep, which is stressful too. Here are a few survival tips for coping with the early days, the stresses and exhaustion:

  • Get as much rest as you can. Obvious perhaps, and maybe easier to say than do, but make sleep and rest a priority and let other things go. Even an easy birth without any intervention is exhausting. Mothers need to give their bodies time to heal and re-energise, particularly if they’ve had a caesarean or other medical involvement
  • Catch up on sleep when you can. It’s very tempting to put a load of laundry on or make a call while your baby has a nap, but in those early days, mothers need to sleep when their babies sleep. It makes the night waking far more manageable if you’ve had some sleep in the day – and everything else for that matter!
  • Decide on your (other) priorities (other than sleep, that is). Accept that for a while you won’t be able to do everything that you did before your baby was born. What things can you leave? What things would bother you if they weren’t done? Do the second and forget the first
  • Make sure you eat well. Your meals don’t have to be elaborate, but should be nourishing. (Remember you will need extra calories if you’re breastfeeding)
  • If you have a partner living with you, take it in turns to take care of the baby when you’re both at home so that one of you can rest. Your partner can do everything the baby needs apart from feed from the breast!
  • Accept whatever help you can get but recognise that it might be done differently from you – and that that’s perfectly OK just now! Don’t feel that you have to do everything yourself and that you’ve somehow failed if you can’t manage it (it’s not humanly possible to do everything you did before and take care of your baby). Other people can help you both with looking after the baby and with household jobs
  • If it’s important to you to feel that you’ve achieved something every day, redefine what you mean by achievement
  • Try and find some time for yourself. Arrange a small treat for yourself each day if you can (even if it’s only a relaxing bath while someone else takes care of the baby)
  • If you have a partner, try and find some time for each other
  • Get out of the house. It’ll do you the world of good. Taking your baby out for the first time can be scary, but once you’ve done it once you’ll feel much more confident
  • Get some exercise. You won’t feel like doing a lot at first, but just going out for a walk will be good for you
  • Talk about anything that’s worrying you (or that you’re tickled pink about) – to your partner, your family and friends, or an online support group.
  • Make use of the professional support that’s available to you. Your midwife (at first) and your health visitor are there to give you help and advice about looking after your baby
  • Do relaxation exercises. It’s much easier to cope if you’re relaxed. Also, if you’re tense, that can make your baby tense, which will make you even more tense – and so on
  • Having visitors is great – especially if they make you a cup of tea rather than the other way round! – but can be tiring. If you want to limit visitors, put a note on the front door saying ‘please don’t disturb’ and turn off your mobile, unplug the landline or change the  message on your answerphone if you have one, saying that you’re resting at the moment but will be pleased to hear from whoever it is another time
  • Take things one day at a time. Each day with a new baby is different. Unless it’s important to you to do so, don’t feel you have to get into a routine. Do what feels right for you If you’re finding it hard to cope, tell yourself that these early days don’t last forever and that they will pass
  • Give yourself time for mental and emotional adjustment. Becoming a mother is a life-changing experience. It takes time to discover who you are in this new role. It’s also a tremendously emotional time, with hormone surges to deal with so don’t be too hard on yourself
  • Marvel at how unbelievably gorgeous your new baby is and how clever you are to have produced him/her!