When Yesh was born, I was sore, tired, sleep-deprived with my hormones running all over the place. With the newness of having a baby, come the challenges of breastfeeding, staying awake and the strength to pull yourself together. And that is why, every new mommy should have a little know of some basic things that make mommyhood pleasant for her too. It is not just a baby who is in a new world, a new mother’s world too has changed. Here are my 15 very practical tips for new mommies.
15 practical tips for new mommies
1. Babies cry, it is natural – don’t get depressed
This is a fact. Babies cry- when they are hungry, upset, tired, or when they pee, poop, eat, or when they do just about anything. A crying baby does not necessarily indicate that you have done something bad, or you are being a bad mom, just that there is something that the baby is trying to draw your attention too.
Comfort her, pat her, hold her in your arms and she will be all happy and contented. Address what is bothering her, and she will not cry anymore. Just because some babies cry more than other, on account of colic, does not imply you should cry too. You can communicate your feelings by talking as well.
2. Sleep when your baby sleeps
This one is a must, though it is easier said than done. After you have tuned in to your newborn’s routine, fix yourself in. Take naps when the baby sleeps, that way not only will you get some much deserved rest, but the baby will also sleep peacefully and longer.
Attend to your chores when she is awake, giving her plenty to hear and see, and you will feel much relaxed. When a mom and baby sleep together, the sleep has therapeutic effect because both get relaxed.
3. You can, and you will be able to breastfeed
Breastfeeding has been around for years, and though challenging at first, it is a skill learnt by practice. Painful nipples, incorrect latching, too much milk or too little milk production are some common issues faced by new moms. And most moms start feeling as if they are starving their babies and not being good enough. Breastfeeding is believed to be intuitive, but is actually not – it is a skill.
These issues can be addressed; all you need to do is speak with a lactation consultant. Don’t just keep on listening to what someone else did and how it came so easy to someone else, move your butt a little and reach out for help.
4. Don’t make it a hush-hush affair when the baby sleeps
If you have decided to do some work or talk to someone over the phone while your baby naps, there is no need to hush up everything and maintain a pin-drop silence. The womb, where your little one was housed till a few days ago is quite a noisy place – with blood gushing, stomach juices releasing and what not.
Babies are used to sleeping in noise, and if you will continue to make some, the habit won’t break. You will be able to get your things done while the baby naps.
5. Take help, ask for help, accept help
This is one of the most useful tips for a new mother. When I had my baby, I tried to do everything on my own even though my inlaws were staying over. It took about 3 days for me to realise I am not a superwoman, and I stopped acting like one. I would ask for support from everyone – mother-in-law to cook, father-in-law to buy stuff from market on his walks, friends to pick me stuff if they were coming over, and my maid to do some extra work that earlier I used to do.
This way, my entire focus shifted to my daughter and a bit to me. Now I maintain that asking for help is not a sign of weakness, but is a way to stay sane.
6. Make the dad pitch in
New moms, the baby is a joint effort, and you need to understand it and also make your husband realise it. I am blessed with the most supportive husband of all, but I know of some friends who would crib that the dads were not putting in enough. Whatever it is – changing diapers, putting the baby to sleep, changing her, playing with her – is a joint responsibility. For nights, my husband would patiently rock her for hours at a stretch, just so that
I could sleep a bit.
The point here is, make Dad an equal partner in baby care. If he isn’t pitching in by himself, assign him some responsibilities. Or if he is too scared to hold the baby, make him do the laundry, cook or whatever you feel like. This has to have the ‘together touch’, remember.
7. The dishes can wait, so can dusting
Newborns are not yet going on all fours exploring their surroundings so a little dirt around the house can wait. It helps if you can hire a househelp to do some chores that require time and patience, but if you can’t go with one, make up a schedule for everything. Like maybe dust your house every three days, do the laundry every alternate day, and the dishes can be taken over by the husband. When you both are at home, prep up some cooking work so that you have something almost ready to have anytime.
It sounds unreal, but is very much possible. Newborns sleep a lot, and if your husband pitches in for some watching over him or her, you can certainly get these things done.
8. Understand your mood swings
After going through pregnancy and delivery, and adding a little human to take care of to the already complex equation, anyone would go under hormonal imbalance. I did too- there were times when I would get so upset with myself that I would cry. And argue endlessly with anyone who came my way. It was painful, I was sore and it wasn’t pleasing to accuse everyone of causing unhappiness to me.
Gradually, I realised I felt this way when I missed my work-life, or when the baby would have long episodes of crying. These were my triggers, and I tried to balance them myself. I would open my laptop at times, look through emails and because I would not be up for it, shut it in a few minutes. For the crying, I started to be conscious myself, trying not to get into an argument at such times.
9. Sync yourself with your baby’s needs
Slowly and gradually, you will be able to guage your baby’s routine much in advance. You’d know when she is about to get hungry, when she’d need to sleep and when she is going to wet the diaper. Babies have expressions for everything, and once you will pay a little attention, you’d know how she expresses her need. Yesh used to curl her nose when she’d be about to poop. And that gave me a fair idea of what’s coming and I’d be prepared for it.
By syncing in to your baby’s routine, you will have less chances of her crying, and you being desperate. You ne able to address her needs, and won’t be running here and there wondering why is the baby crying. It helps, it really does.
10. Make the space for a crib
This is one thing that I did not do and regret it till date. Making the space for a crib, and a little heart to make your baby sleep on your own, goes a long way to ensure you have a good night’s sleep and wake up refreshed. Sooner or later, the bed is going to be small to accommodate the three of you, and mind you, babies take all the space they need and you are left hanging at the corner!
So early on, make some space for a crib, and start making your baby sleep in it atleast during day times. My friends who practised this were able to sleep better, and enjoyed their bed to them. Cribs can be placed in the same room, much adhering to the Indian concept of being near to the baby, and yet be comfortable.
11. Make sure you take a good bath everyday
It is easy to get lost attending to the baby and other chores and postpone your bath to late afternoon, evening, night and next day. No, don’t do that! Make sure that when your husband is home you enjoy a good, warm bath everyday. Slather some lotion on your skin, put on some scented candle, dress in comfortable, clean and fresh clothes, comb your hair, put on a tinted lip balm and you will automatically feel good about yourself.
Motherhood is not an excuse to stay dirty, wearing unkempt clothes and tying your hair up in a bun without combing for days. Don’t make it this – find yourself some time to take a bath, dress up and look good, every damn day.
12. Get your massages too
As much as it is important for the baby to get her massages, your sore and tired body needs them too. Hire a maalishwali and give your body some rest as she massages it. You will feel relieved, energised and less stressful – the effect of massages after delivery is therapeutic. Benefits of postpartum massage include pain relief, improved lactation, reduced swelling and above all, stress reduction.
13. Stay away from unsolicited people and advice
Every mother and child are different. Understand this and never ever compare yourself to anyone else. I wasn’t able to lactate for a week after my daughter was born, and as much as I was struggling with it already, my MIL would mention it to whosoever came to see me and my baby. I felt ashamed, inferior and it seriously took a toll on our relationship. It used to become a topic of discussion and I’d get lactation tips on wats app by I don’t even know whom.
It was then I decided not to let this bother me. I took console in some of my friends who lifted my spirits and I reached out a lactation consultant. It helped, I breastfeed my baby for almost an year. But on the way, I learnt this important lesion of not letting unsolicited advice and people come in my way.
14. Take a stroll in the park
Prams serve very good at this – one of the basic things that you need after you have a newborn. I use to place Yesh in her pretty blue pram almost every evening when the weather would permit. Taking a stroll in our compound was well appreciated by her as well, and she used to enjoy the ride. Moreover, it would give me an excuse to get out of the house, talk to other people, shop the daily necessities from the shop just a few blocks around and be back feeling refreshed and relaxed.
Getting out of the house is really important, if you ask me. You dress a bit, you do your hair, and you breathe in fresh air. Talking to other people lifts the mood, you feel accomplished and for some time atleast, you get conversational with the adult world. It may not be ideal, but it is still adult!
15. Be awesome, as always
Last but not the least at all – you are doing awesome and I am sure you will be good. The baby is happy, you are happy. You have been doing an awesome job, so chin up and be proud.