Here are the best tips to make the newborn phase emotionally and mentally easier for you
When I look back at my two newborn stages I was able to experience, I have very mixed feelings.
To be honest, the newborn stage is not my favorite phase. I know that some mothers love it, but for me, it was a combination of anxiety, fear, sleep deprivation, and slight depression.
The second time was much easier for me and passed by much faster because I was very well occupied with a 2-year-old. But man, the first time. When I remember that time, I honestly feel a lot of regret. If I could go back in time, I would do so many things differently.
The newborn stage with your first child will always be different than any newborn phase you experience after that because you are thrown into cold water with a body that still hurts from labor. It's the first time you will experience true sleep deprivation. Your hormones are all over the place. You feel insecure about taking care of a human being. You worry about that little thing all the time.
So to sum it up, you are all messed up and still have to take care of your little bean. It can be so tough!
It's not uncommon for new moms to struggle during the early days and weeks of motherhood. They may be full of heartwarming moments, but they can also be filled with a feeling of loneliness, anxiety, fear, boredom, and stress. Sometimes all in one day. Indeed, motherhood can bring out tons of emotions.
So the question is, how can you survive, let alone enjoy the newborn phase?
Helpful Tips To Survive The Newborn Days
Before I start with my tips, there is something I want you to know. We sometimes think that our lives will get easier and we will get happier when we have to do less.
But that is not necessarily true. Having a happier life actually takes work. You sometimes have to do things you don't feel like doing. For example, you really, REALLY don't want to work out. But after a workout, you will feel really good. And when you work out regularly, you will be more energized and happy overall. Because when you exercise, your endorphins increase and stress hormones decrease. So you have to overcome this hurdle of not wanting to exercise to feel much better.
And the same will go with some advice here. I might suggest that you get out when the last thing you want to do is actually to go out. There might be other things you don't want to do, but I guarantee you, if you can get over the hurdle of not wanting to do it, this phase will be much easier for you.
1. Get Alone Time
Yes, so my very first tip for you is to get time away from your baby. How selfish of me, right?
Allowing yourself to have some alone time can be very difficult in the beginning. It is hard to let someone else watch your new baby, even if it's your partner or your mother.
Now I am not telling you to give your baby away if you don't want to, but letting your partner watch the baby for half an hour or an hour while you take a stroll outside, go to the supermarket, or sleep will give you a sense of relieve. You will need to practice letting go of that tiny bug. But once it becomes a regularity, it will be much, much easier for you.
2. Make Mom Friends
I think making mom friends is crucial for every new mom. I still have my kids-free friends, but I cannot talk about baby stuff with them all the time. And honestly, sometimes that's all I want to do.
You need someone you can share your motherhood struggles with without having to worry if you are talking too much about your child. Find a mom tribe you can relate to. All of you will have one or more things in common that you find challenging about motherhood, and sharing and seeing that you are not alone will help you so much!
3. Meet Frequently
Having that said, it is important to meet up frequently. I remember sometimes watching the clock and counting the hours until my husband would come home. It feels as if time stands still with a newborn baby.
And the best thing you can do to restart that clock is to meet up with someone. You might feel like you don't want to get dressed and go out. But force yourself. I promise you it will help! I sometimes had days where I met people daily, which felt so good!
4. Read/Listen To Books About Self-Love
Motherhood is a wild ride. Not only because you are now dealing with a human being whose existence depends on your care. No, because motherhood is connected to our experiences and our own upbringing in so many freaky ways.
Our confidence, anxiety, and self-doubts are often rooted in early experiences in our life. And when you become a mother, you will often relive them again. That's why it's the perfect time to start loving yourself as a fresh mom and let go of past demons. So grab yourself all the self-love books you can get and start reading (here is a list with 15 books).
And if you don't find the energy to read a book, download audiobooks. You can listen to them while you contact nap or nurse your baby.
5. Continue Your Basic Pre-Mom Habits
It can be challenging to keep up with your daily habits once you have to care for a baby practically 24/7. And you surely will have to give up some of them for at least the foreseeable future.
But not all of them. The daily shower, a skincare routine, or a workout are still very possible! Whatever you like to do, you should continue with your daily habits. You need to make time for them.
Maybe now you think showering is already impossible. But let's now think rationally.
Is it really impossible?
You can give that baby to your partner for at least 30 minutes every day. They will survive, I promise!
Keeping up with daily habits will give you back a sense of control. Habits are generally very important to improve your overall happiness, even though it can be really hard to (re-)implement a habit.
6. Drop The FOMO
When your little one arrives, it can feel like you are homebound. As a result, some new parents start to experience FOMO, the fear of missing out.
It feels as if the whole world continues with their life while yours is now all about diaper changes and constant feedings. Your friends are going out to dinner, your partner gets a promotion, family goes on vacation. Whatever it is, you feel like you are missing out on a lot of things.
But you are not or only for a little while. Right now, you might think you will never ever have a date night with your partner again. But it will happen sooner than you think.
Stop focusing on what you don't have and instead focus on what you have. Use your time with your baby in other ways and start small. Go to brunch with a friend. Go shopping with your mom. And in a few months, you can go on your first vacation. It is all in reach, believe me.
7. Keep Snack Boxes In Reach Everywhere
Ok, now we will get to more practical tips. So obviously we want to start with FOOD.
Let's face it: you are going to be nap trapped, sometimes for hours. Your baby does not want to be put down. I mean the audacity, right? They are breastfeeding for what feels like hours while you are slowly running low on energy. Or you desperately need a midnight snack to get you through another sleepless night. We've all been there, so no judgment.
You may need to energize through snacks all day long. So you have to make sure those snacks are in reach ALWAYS.
Store little boxes with all kinds of snacks in every room of your home. Place them next to the bed, the couch, or wherever you might need them.
8. Get A Baby Carrier
I used the carrier a lot with my firstborn. But my second born practically lived in it. You cannot imagine how much it helped me chase after my then 2-year-old on the playground.
Baby carriers are great! Your little one can enjoy your closeness while you have your hands free.
Now, sometimes parents have the feeling that their baby does not like the carrier. But I would still give it a go and try it. It is normal for babies to first fuss when placed into the carrier. It doesn't necessarily mean they hate it. With a little bit of movement, babies usually settle down.
9. Ask For Help, But For Real
You have probably read this in every mom article ever written in the history of mom articles.
Guess why...Because it's crucial to ask for help.
I know it's hard to ask for help, but you need and deserve support wherever you can get it. Whether it's a friend or a family member, get over your hesitation and just ask! They will all be very happy to help you out. You don't have to do everything on your own.
Ask them to grab you a meal, take over a feeding or go to the grocery store. All these are only very little favors no one will hesitate to do for you.
And don't let pride or responsibilities between you and your partner stand in the way of asking. Instead, just focus on the end result, which is having less on your already full, dripping plate.
10. Use The Time To Binge Watch Shows
I remember very vividly how I used to binge-watch tv shows when I was in the university. Instead of studying for my test, I was watching LOST, one episode after another. I also remember how bad and stressed I felt about all the time I lost.
Now, with a newborn baby, you have a free pass to binge-watch whatever you like for as long as you want. And you don't need to feel guilty, because where do you really have to go?
Make your bedroom comfortable, turn on that tv and enjoy just lying in bed with your baby, snacking and watching a new series. When you read it like that, doesn't it sound like a lot of fun?
11. Don't Obsess About Your Baby's Sleep
I believe that the changes in sleep are one of the biggest challenges new mothers have to face. With a new baby on board, your sleep reality now looks totally different. And understanding how different sleep patterns of newborn babies are is difficult.
Also, nighttime parenting is now a big part of your life. But it is not easy to get used to the new sleep deprivation that hits you from one day to another.
I have read posts of desperate new mothers who had 1 or 2-week-old babies asking for help because their baby is only napping in their arms or they wake multiple times a night.
This may not be what you want to hear, but everything you are experiencing is probably normal baby sleep (unless you see red flags). Short naps, contact naps, and feeding to sleep are normal newborn sleep behaviors. And because your little one is so small, you should not start to obsess about it. Newborn sleep is very unpredictable, and only little can be done. A sleep schedule or sleep training are not suited for newborns. Focusing too much on sleep will only make it harder for you to cope with the truth.
Instead, remind yourself that what you are experiencing is hard but normal, and it will pass. You are there for your child that has spent more time inside your womb than outside. And you will help your baby sleep like babies are supposed to. There will be enough time to start with healthy sleep habits. Until then, learn about safe sleep and snuggle up to your baby to sleep with them.
12. Nap In A Separate Room
Newborns make a lot of noise and move a lot in their sleep. This can make it hard to get some shut-eye yourself. Without knowing, you're constantly lifting your head to check on the baby.
That's why during the day, when my husband was at home, I started to sleep in a different room. Sometimes even in the evening until the first feeding. We got an extra mattress and put it on the floor in our spare room.
Whenever my husband was watching the baby so I could take a nap, I would nap there. It was much easier for me to get some rest there. I even used ear plugs to mask any outside noise, like a baby that just woke from a nap.
It's A Phase
I know that those early weeks with a newborn can be tough. Being a new parent is a huge life change. But you will come around with self-care, patience, and lots of love for your baby.