There is a reason why they call the first 3 months of your baby’s life the fourth trimester. Everyone is still healing, coping, and recovering from the oftentimes traumatic experience of birth.
First of all, no part of the birthing and bringing baby home experience is easy. So, let’s just go ahead and get that out of the way. No matter how many perfectly posed pictures of napping newborns you see on your feed, I promise you, that momma is also experiencing moments of struggle and self-doubt.
That’s why knowing you are not alone in the newborn haze can help ease your mind and expectations of what bringing home a new baby should look and feel like. It’s not all cuddles and cooing. Some moments are downright dark, and your baby won’t be the only one shedding tears.
So how can we make the transition from baby-in-belly, to baby-in-arms easier? Well here are five tips to surviving the newborn phase;
1. Give yourself grace;
I recently spoke to a new mom who was struggling with breastfeeding and was understandably being a bit hard on herself. I told her, “If you take every opportunity in motherhood to judge yourself, you’ll never survive”. Motherhood is chock full of moments where you feel like you could have done better, you are falling short, or something is hard for you that seems so natural to everyone else. Girl, stop! Give yourself a break and let yourself off of that self-imposing hook. You have to give yourself some major grace throughout this parenting journey, because believe me, it is tough enough without all the self judgement. So just remember, you are doing great. You are the perfect mommy to that baby, and in their eyes, you can do no wrong. So, take a deep sniff of that baby’s neck folds and let that self-judgement go!
2. Throw all expectations out the window;
So much of the self-judgement and internal struggle comes from this made up notion that we should be doing things a certain way or have this rosy newborn experience. As my therapist once poignantly told me, “Stop SHOULDING all over yourself!”. If you go into the experience allowing it to be whatever it needs to be, you will see how much easier the transition unfolds. Again, this whole journey is hard enough without the unreasonable expectations, so just go into it with a sense of adventure and unknowing and take each moment as it comes.
3. Take it one day at a time;
Trust me when I say every new mom has that moment when she brings her baby home and about a week into it she asks herself…”Is this going to be forever?!?” Short answer, no it’s not. The transition from no kids to one super needy, perhaps colicky newborn is a jarring one. And it will take some time to adjust. But just take it one day at a time and know that each day you survive, you are one day closer to the happy, sleeping through the night, not yet walking or talking, sweet, smiley baby stage… Now that’s what we call the sweet spot! ☺
4. Take a moment for yourself;
Listen to me closely momma, it is ok to step away from your baby (even if they are crying) and take a moment for yourself. Whether that means enjoying a glass of wine on the porch while hubby tends to baby’s needs, or just placing baby in her crib and stepping outside for a 5-minute cool down period. You have to take care of yourself so that you can continue to care for your child and family. Self-care is vital in these early days and don’t you for a second feel guilty about that! Pro-tip: Leave baby with hubby and a bottle of breastmilk/formula for an hour while you go get a pedicure… and ask for the extra massage! I promise you, they will both survive.
5. Remember, this too shall pass;
I know this is so hard and sometimes it feels like it will never end, but I promise you, it will. The seasons of motherhood are short and before you know it, that needy little newborn will be a needy little toddler (a blog for another day). Take it one day at a time, laugh at how crazy hard it is, and love yourself through it all. And remember, you are not alone! Reach out to your fellow mommas who have been there and done that. They will remind you how normal your feelings are and that it will be over before you know it. Now go squeeze that baby and count your blessings, because life is beautiful even when you are too sleep deprived to notice.