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10 Practical Tips for the First Six Weeks of Motherhood

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Your little bundle of joy is finally here!  You cannot stop marveling at this brilliant creature that you and your husband have made.  But between the sleep interruptions, the diaper changes and learning your wee one’s feeding habits, you might be feeling overwhelmed and exhausted.  Here are 10 practical tips for surviving the first six weeks of motherhood.

  1. Accept all offers of help. Even if the help is just your mom or mother-in-law coming in to do a load of laundry or deliver a meal or two, take it. If you are financially able to do so, hire a helper so you can concentrate solely on tending to the newest addition to your family.  Your helper should be someone well-versed in looking after a family who has just welcomed a new baby; they will know the specific needs of this special time.  You will be grateful knowing that someone else has taken on the responsibilities of housecleaning, laundry, grocery shopping and meal prep.  In these postpartum days, trying to accomplish your normal routine in addition to getting to know your new baby is difficult, if not impossible.  So accept all offers of support. It will allow you the opportunity to bond with your baby and not have to worry about keeping all the other plates spinning.
  1. Grab sleep when you can. The first six weeks of motherhood are particularly exhausting.  You have just gone through childbirth which is taxing for your body.  You are producing new hormones which have your moods going up and down. Your sleep is irregular and never enough.  Other mothers will tell you that you must sleep when your baby sleeps.  But many new mothers feel they should use the time their newborn is sleeping to play catch-up:  do some laundry, shop for groceries, or clean the house.  Do not be tempted to do these things.  View sleeping as an act of self-care.  The chores can wait (or ask your husband to step in and do these.)  If you do not sleep, everything will seem more difficult and you get prone to the risk for post-partum depression.  When you put your baby down to nap, grab some zzzz’s yourself.
  1. Get outside at least once a day. You will be amazed at how fast a day can go by when all you seem to be doing is feeding, changing, bathing and dressing the baby.  But don’t become tied to your house.   Getting some physical activity and sunshine can do wonders for your postpartum moods. So put on your sneakers, place baby in a stroller or baby carrier, and get outside.  The movement will help your baby to sleep as well as help you feel great.  Leave the house and the unfinished cleaning behind you and tune into the outdoors.  You will feel refreshed and positive when you come back home. 
  1. Don’t buy lots of newborn clothes. Yes, those itty-bitty overalls are adorable.  But you’ll probably get one day’s use out of them.  Babies grow at astounding rates in the early weeks.  Don’t waste your money buying lots of cute outfits.  Do, however, buy double the amount of burp cloths you were planning on purchasing.  You’ll always have one on your shoulder.  And this will cut down on the pressure to do laundry since you will have put in a good stock.
  1. Online shopping is your new best friend. Your outdoor time is better spent strolling with your little one in the sunshine than in a shopping mall.  Shop online for everything you can:  groceries, baby supplies, beauty supplies, and maybe a good book to read as you nurse.  (You’ll soon get the hang of cradling your baby with one arm while you hold a book in the other!)
  1. Know that this emotional roller coaster is completely normal. The first six weeks of new motherhood are filled with hormonal fluctuations which will have an effect on how you are feeling.  In the space of an hour, you can go from euphoria (I love this baby so much!) to crying (I have no idea how to care for her!).  Assure yourself:  you are not cracking up.  You are allowed to feel this way.  Your body is under the influence of a flood of new hormones; it’s just trying to find a balance. 
  1. Eat healthy, with an eye towards post-childbirth healing. This is not the time to go on a strict diet.  Stay away from any headline that boasts how a celebrity recently exited the hospital looking as trim as she was pre-pregnancy.  Remember that if you eat healthy, your baby weight will drop at a normal pace.  Make sure you do remember to eat so that you can keep up with your newborn’s needs and have a good milk supply (if you are nursing).  If you eat a balanced diet, take your recommended vitamins, and get out for some exercise each day, you will return to your pre-baby weight in no time.  Order simple, healthy foods that are easy to prepare when you do your online grocery shopping.  This will make putting together balanced meals easy. 
  1. Buy a couple of changing table pads so you don’t have to return to baby’s room each time she needs a diaper change. This is especially helpful if you live on a multi-level house and baby’s room is upstairs.  Keep a changing pad on a table or sofa in the room where you spend the most time with baby.  Keep a stock of diapers, wipes and lotion there, too.  You’ll save yourself valuable footsteps.
  1. Make your bed each day, and scour the kitchen sink each night. Doing these two small tasks will give you a sense of order when you can’t get to all the household chores.  Having your bed made will set the tone for the day, and having a shiny sink each night will allow you to wake up the next morning (or for the 3:00 am feeding) to something clean.  It’s a small thing, but it goes a long way to help your mood.
  1. Don’t compare your baby’s progress with others. In your mothers’ group you will probably hear lots of bragging:  My baby is holding his head upMy baby rolled overMy baby smiled at me this morning!  If your baby hasn’t yet hit the milestones that other babies seem to be hitting, don’t worry.  Each baby has their own calendar to follow.  Comparison is the thief of joy.   Your newborn’s development is not in competition with anything.  If hearing other mothers brag about their babies’ accomplishments is upsetting to you, avoid these women for now.  Your baby is perfect and will hit her milestones on her own personal timetable.

Sylvia Smith is a relationship expert with years of experience in training and helping couples. She has helped countless individuals and organizations around the world, offering effective and efficient solutions for healthy and successful relationships. Her mission is to provide inspiration, support and empowerment to everyone on their journey to a great marriage. She is a featured writer for Marriage.com, a reliable resource to support healthy, happy marriages. Follow her on FacebookTwitterStumbleUpon, Google+ and Pinterest.

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