Helpful Tips for New Moms
By Leslie Vandever
These days, it seems like new mothers have the world—almost literally—at their fingertips. Between the Internet, cable TV, smartphones and tablets, just about any question you might have about caring for your new baby can be answered in moments. Being a super-mom is a breeze.
What the slick websites often gloss over as they shout about the five best baby foods, the perfect diaper/laptop/baby carrier, the latest fashions for the well-dressed 9-month-old, and baby’s first smartphone is you. Mom. You’re not even used to being called “mom,” yet, let alone feel like you’ve got it all under control.
So if you’re feeling a little low, a little let-down and you’re singing the blues, well, don’t worry. You’re normal.
The high estrogen and progesterone levels your body ramped up and maintained during your pregnancy are no longer needed, so they’re dropping rapidly back to normal. These hormones can play havoc with your mood. Being happy, then sad, then tearful, then angry and then happy again in the same 15-minute-stretch is normal.
Tip 1: Remember you’re only human. Your body is changing again. It can’t help but stir up your emotions. It will get better.
After the baby is born, your internal organs suddenly have all kinds of space in there again. Your stomach isn’t squashed up against your lungs, no one is kicking your liver or elbowing your spleen, and your intestines are slipping back into their spacious old nest below your belly-button. Your whole body is reverting back, as much as it can, to its pre-pregnancy shape. You can almost hear it saying “ahhh.”
Tip 2: Forgive yourself if you’re not feeling great. Change is never comfortable.
Since you came home with the baby, you haven’t slept more than a couple of hours at a stretch. There’s always something to do: feed her, burp her, clean her up, rock her to sleep, put her in her crib. Then the laundry needs to be done, and that supper isn’t going to cook itself. And then the baby will cry, and you’ll change her diaper. Then she’ll be hungry, so you’ll feed her, and… and… and.
Tip 3: Don’t be embarrassed to ask a relative or friend for help, even if it’s just for an hour or so now and then. During your hour or so off, you’re only allowed to care for yourself. Get a manicure. Take a long nap. Read a book, or go out for a coffee with a friend. Do anything, but do it for you.
When you read about motherhood on the Internet or see moms on television and in movies, it seems like they’re so good at the whole thing. They don’t want to cry when the baby cries. They’re always patient and gentle. Their babies look like perfect little bundles of happiness. So what’s up with you? Are you a sub-par mom, or what?
Tip 4: Keep it real. You’re doing just fine at motherhood. Remember the baby didn’t come with a manual, and you’re learning on the job. Remember to give yourself credit for every single thing you do right.
You keep telling yourself you’re doing just fine, but down inside you’re feeling worthless or guilty. It seems like the “baby blues” ought to be over by now, but they’re not. In fact, they’re getting worse.
Tip 5: If you’re feeling low and depressed, and the feeling isn’t going away or getting better, talk to someone. Talk to your partner, or a relative, a friend or your pastor. Or call your family doctor and let her know how you’re feeling. She can help you get back on track.
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Leslie Vandever is a professional journalist and freelance writer. She also writes a blog about living well with rheumatoid arthritis called RheumaBlog, under the pen-name “Wren.” In her spare time, Vandever enjoys cooking, reading and working on the Great American Novel.