So you want to know how to get through your first 6 weeks as a new mother? Let me start off by saying, you’ve got one hell of journey ahead of you, but the rewards are totally worth it. There are going to be many days where you will feel alone, like you can’t do this, like you just want one whole day to yourself to rest.
I can assure you that you’re not alone. There are many mothers experiencing motherhood just like you, for the first time at this very moment. You can do this. You were made for this. You will surprize yourself over and over when you discover how much you are capable of and how much you can endure. There’s no mother that can’t do this. You’re not going to have a whole day to yourself to rest, because even if someone is kind enough to give it to you, all you will do is think about is your precious bundle and you will worry about him or her all day.
Your first couple of weeks are going to be tough. Know this and accept it. Doing so will be key in helping you get through them. When I had my first child, my mom spent the first two weeks with me. At the time my mom lived in another city. When she left to go back home, I was devastated. I couldn’t possibly imagine looking after my baby without her. How on earth would I cope? I literally did not know what to do. So there we were, hubby and I, with a newborn, both first time parents, with not a clue how we are going to do this. I cried probably twice a week, mostly early hours of the morning when baby wakes up for a feed, just because I was so friggen tired and overwhelmed. I was exhausted to say the least. It felt like this was going to be my life, for the rest of my life. I could not imagine the time when my little bundle would actually be all grown up and independent of me. To top it off, I had a severely painful breastfeeding journey (I will talk about this more in my posts to come).
So to help you get into your motherhood journey, I’ve put together some useful tips for your first six weeks. At the time of Liam being born, I wasn’t into google that much, so I really took everything in my stride, and figured it all out on my own or via a phone call to my precious mom, but had I known some of the things below, it would have made my journey a lot easier. It sure did help me when I became a mom for the second time though.
How to get through your first 6 weeks as a new mother
1. First thing is, you CAN sleep when baby sleeps.
Forget the house work, forget the dishes, forget it all. Sleep when baby sleeps. Of course you can’t do this every day as you will need to catch up on washing and cleaning etc. It’s all about planning. Plan your sleep days and your house work days. No house ever fell apart from being a mess for two or three days in a row. But you can definitely sleep when baby sleeps on most days and keep cleaning and laundry to a minimum of twice or thrice a week.
2. No smiles at night
You will be tempted to talk to your baby when he wakes up at night. Perhaps give him a smile or two, talk to him in your loving motherly voice, switch on the light, or even look around for a nappy or wet wipes etc. DON’T do it!! Make sure you’re prepared for bed time. Have your nappies and wet wipes ready, if you really cannot see with the lights off, use a bed side lamp (not a bright one). No eye contact at night, and absolutely no talking and smiles at baby. The first six weeks are crucial as this is when baby learns his sleep patterns. I know it’s tempting, but what you do in the first six weeks of your little one’s life, pretty much sets the way for the rest of his baby and toddler life.
3. Invest in an ergonomic baby wrap/carrier
Your little one has spent the last 9 months with his body all wrapped up in warm fluid. All day long he heard the sound of your heartbeat and your voice. This is his safe place. All of a sudden, he is out in this new world, with many other voices and he’s not wrapped up. Using a baby wrap will keep him feeling safe and warm and it can help keep your hands free so that you actually get to do stuff if need be. When he is wrapped up close to you, hearing your heart beat and your voice, he will feel safe. I didn’t know about wraps when I had Liam, but I learnt about them during my pregnancy with Cole and so I invested in one. It was my life saver. I started off with a stretchy wrap and then moved on to a baby carrier. See Bongi Hill’s comment below on baby wearing. Please make an effort to learn more about baby wearing – It’s an absolute must!!
4. Take a good multivitamin
I’m no doctor and I cannot advice on which multivitamin is best, but speak to your gynea, or your local clinic. Your body will be going through all sorts of things as it adjusts and puts itself back together and sleep deprivation doesn’t make the transition any easier. Pregnancy and child birth is an amazing thing, but remember, it took 9 months to grow your baby, it sure will take more than 9 months to get it back together so keep your immune system up. You will feel tired more often than not, and a good multivitamin can help with this.
5. Your motherly instinct is REAL
You will hear a lot of “You should……..” and “You shouldn’t……..”. And as a new mom, you’re going to feel like every other mom most probably knows best since they were a mother before you. But they haven’t been a mother to YOUR baby or walked in YOUR shoes and experienced YOUR journey. More importantly, there’s something you share with them and every other mom out there, it’s your motherly instinct. There’s that little voice inside your head which goes along with a feeling in your tummy that tells you exactly what to do. We often ignore it, but it’s there and its real, and it’s right, always. I can probably write a book of all the times my motherly instinct was right and I didn’t listen to it. Finally, after 2 kids and my last one being almost a year, I now accept my motherly instinct to be a real thing that I now always go with.
6. Keep your most used items in each room and packed in your going out baby bag.
The most irritating thing is having to look for the wipes or bum cream or a nappy because you don’t know where you left it last or they are all the way in the lounge, or all the way upstairs. Keep a pack of wet wipes, nappies and bum cream in each room, and whatever other items you regularly make use of. Keeping these in your baby bag is also useful as you will save a lot of time by not having to pack a baby bag when you’re on your way out, especially when you have to leave the house at the last minute. Keep a set of clothing in there as well.
7. A happy mom equals happy baby
Where will I possibly find the time? There will be time. Make the time, for yourself. And I’m not talking about a day spa or a hair do or manicure. Obviously if you can squeeze that in then definitely go for it. But if you can’t, just get in the shower at least once a day. This will not seem possible in those first few weeks. Find a way to spend at least ten minutes caring for yourself. Even if you do it with baby right next to you or if you have to wait until 10pm at night but just do it. Do your daily facial routine, get into something clean and comfortable. If you feel happy and clean and content, your baby will feel that.
8. There is help for breastfeeding
If your first couple of days are difficult, which it most likely will be, please don’t give up. There are platforms available and ready to help you in your breastfeeding journey. There are just too many benefits to breastfeeding. As mentioned before, I will be telling you about my breastfeeding experience in more detail, but for now, if you need any help and are unsure of anything, please follow this page on Facebook. There is an abundance of breastfeeding info and help on this group: La Leche League South Africa
Last but not least, I also reached out to my fellow #instamamas and asked what their handy tips are for first time moms. Here’s what they said:
@thebugthebird – Take help when people offer it! Mamahood is HARD and newborns are time consuming. Let people cook for you, wash your dishes, grocery shop or hold your baby while you shower. It takes a village! 😊💗
@tashnundkumar – Invest in a digital ear or forehead thermometer…ask your paed when to worry about temp…believe me when I say I thought my firstborn had an elevated temp so often it’s embaressing🙈❤
@bongihill – ⭐Babywearing⭐ It helps baby feel safe and content by promoting a secure attachment. It reduces crying by 43% which helps build your confidence as a mom. The soft touch releases oxytocin which can help reduce stress and anxiety. It gives you the ability to go out and about and have your hands free. There are so many more amazing benefits for mom and baby. On a personal note…My son was born 2 days after my hubby had a shoulder operation (mountain bike accident) and we were busy building and about to move into a new house. It was mayhem and I would not have survived without babywearing.
Motherhood is really an amazingly beautiful yet difficult journey. I hope some of the advice given here can make it a little easier for you. If you have any useful handy tips for first time moms and what worked for you, please add it to the comments section below 🙂