It’s a new year and a new decade (unless you talk to my husband, he has stated the decade begins in 2021). And for some of you there is also a new baby or pregnancy! Whether this was planned or not, Congratulations! A new child brings so many changes, but one we don’t discuss often is the birth of a new mother, a new family entirely.
When a child is born, whether your first or your sixth, the family dynamic changes. A woman becomes a mother, a man becomes a father, a little girl/boy becomes a big brother/sister. Roles and expectations change and sometimes that doesn’t go as smoothly as we hope.
So, here are some tips to help make the transition smooth. At least as smooth as possible.
The transition to motherhood is joyous, exhausting, and exciting. You may find yourself wondering if you can do this.
So first things first, you are the perfect mother for your baby.
That’s it. No one else could be a better mom for your child than you are. Whether you carried the child yourself, adopted, or were blessed through surrogacy, you are the perfect mother for your child.
But here are some ways to make this transition easier on you.
- Sleep when baby sleeps. This sounds like trite advice, but it is important. Rest when baby rests, sleep when baby sleeps, and if baby will only sleep on you then snuggle up and enjoy. These days don’t last long, but the skin to skin time with baby or the few moments of self-care are incredibly important for a new mom. Remember if you just gave birth whether vaginal or cesarean your body will be healing for up to 18 months. And rest is one of the best ways to allow your body to heal. Let someone else do the dishes.
- Eat a balanced and healthy diet. Lots of leafy greens and natural foods. Once again, your body is healing. Take care of you.
- Say “No”. Don’t feel like having visitors? Don’t have the energy to make another meal? Learn to say no. Give yourself and your family time to adjust and time to settle. You aren’t required to entertain or meet anyone else’s standards.
- Hire a post-partum doula. Unlike a birth doula who is with you during labor and delivery, a pos-partum doula will come to your home to help in the adjustment of having a new child. Here at Empowered Birth Network KC we will happily help you find the right postpartum doula for your needs.
Becoming a new father can be overwhelming and amazing all at once. Your child’s mother has changed, but so have you. And while you have not physically gone through labor and delivery, you have had a profound life event, and you will need time to adjust as well. Take the time, listen to mom and babies’ cues on what they need, and make sure you take the time to really bond with baby.
- Skin to skin time with dad and baby will help you to bond. It also helps baby regulate its breathing, temperature, and heart-rate. Taking some time to snuggle baby will give you some amazing time with your new child and give mom a small break.
- Listen to your partner. She will give you cues on what she needs and how you can help. Right now, she needs to heal, and giving her that time will give you some time with baby.
- Accept help. If your family wants to bring a meal, or a friend offers to stop by and do some light cleaning, accept. You, mom and baby need the rest.
A new baby brings changes for the older brothers and sisters. Being aware that they are experiencing something new can help ease the transition.
- Don’t be surprised by regressions. A previously potty-trained child may reverse and need diapers/pull ups again. A child who was sleeping through the night may begin waking again. The change a new baby brings can disrupt an older child’s world. Patience and understanding can help them adjust. And they will adjust, it just takes some time.
- Have your older child help with age appropriate jobs. They can help pick out babies’ clothes, get diapers, or bring mom/dad a drink. Helping gives them ownership and lets them know they still have a role in the family.
- Make sure to let them feel their feelings. Letting them know they are allowed to have emotions and how to express them healthily will get them through this transition and many more to come. I highly recommend the book My Many Colored Days by Dr. Seuss. It was invaluable with my children growing up.
However your family chooses to become a family take some time to research what the postpartum period is going to look like for you, and how you would like it to go. Having a plan in place can prevent hurdles down the road.
For more information on Empowered Birth Network KC and to explore what we have to offer visit us at www.empoweredbirthnetworkkc.com.