I know when many of you read the title of this Blog, you will immediately nod your head and say 'Yes – I know exactly what that is like and it wasn't good’
Let me state right now that I'm not talking about Post Natal Depression. I am totally unqualified to deal with that and PND is something that only specialists can deal with.
What I am discussing here is the first-time new mum at home with a tiny baby after being discharged from a birthing unit very soon after giving birth.
The overwhelming state of suddenly realizing that you are responsible for this little scrap of humanity, is just that – overwhelming. You and the majority of new first time mums feel this way.
Despite having a Mid-wife who has been part of your life for most of your pregnancy, reading up on the birthing process, preparing a birthing plan, having a partner who is planning to be with you during the birthing process, and maybe your mother or a close friend, nothing will actually prepare you completely for the actual birth of your baby.
When I gave birth to my first baby in the early 70's, husbands weren't the most welcome person in the delivery room! He stayed with me during the first stage of labour – and then after 24 hours I delivered with my Doctor and a Maternity nurse and required extensive suturing by a specialist immediately following the birth.
Did I expect all this before my baby was born? No – not ever! And neither did my husband!
My second baby's birth was slightly quicker – but still long and requiring suturing and the third baby – yes – you've guessed – shorter – around 5 hours but with an episiotomy an added extra. Did I expect this – no – never!
What I'm saying here is that every birth is different – often with unexpected twists and turns, like the lovely mum I knew who delivered twins even though she was told that –“ no – you are not having twins”! No scanning in those days!
My babies were born in an era where mothers and babies stayed in hospital for two weeks after the birth. Our babies did not sleep beside us, but after being put to the breast, or given a bottle (yes, that does happen, and some mums make that decision – more of that later), the babies were returned to the nursery where they were tucked down in their own crib and the mums did not see them again until the next feed in around three hours.
I'm telling all this as a lead up to what I think is one of the main causes of baby blues.
For mothers, like me, who were discharged from the maternity hospital with a baby who had already been introduced to a routine, was an incredible beginning to motherhood. We were rested, had experienced superb care from qualified staff who answered our questions, led us through the bathing, feeding, burping, swaddling and tucking down of our babies – and yes – letting those babies have a cry. By the time we arrived home with this two week old baby, he/she was already in a routine, had learned the process of self settling and us mums were ready and able to get on with being a mother at home, alone!
I am fully aware that times have changed and that mums who arrive home on day 2 have a tough road to hoe and that is when the 'baby blues' can sometimes hit and hit hard, but with some planning before the baby is born, the 'baby blues' can be minimalised – even avoided.
I totally believe in routine – for a healthy baby and once a good milk supply has been established, it is not necessary to put the baby to the breast every time he cries. Very soon, the clever little baby will demand that this happens and this alone can put the new mum under undue pressure to do just that. This leads on to the baby becoming a snacker and a snoozer. This requires no further explanation! It can also lead to sore/split/bleeding nipples. Did you Midwife tell you to prepare your nipples for breast feeding by applying a good cream before the birth?
With a routine – which becomes a habit, the baby is fed three and a half to four hourly. This is one of my top tips which you can read on my website.
For mums who are going through the 'baby blues' a routine and a baby with a full tummy will very quickly change those feelings of 'what do I do – do I have to feed a baby all the time – when do I have any time for myself?
In my book 'Baby on Board – Mum is Driving' you will read all about routine – suggested feeding times – giving a top-up bottle – teaching the baby to self settle.
If you go onto my website (if you are reading this, you're already there!)
read some great testimonials from mums who managed to avoid getting to the stage of the 'baby blues' by following my tried and tested methods of being an exceptional mother with an exceptional baby.
This baby will grow up knowing about a routine – life is a routine – he will know about going to sleep in his own room – in his own bed – and because you have set these rules in place, he will understand that you are in charge, and you are the 'boss' – you set the rules along with heaps of love and cuddles!
In my book I deal with mums who for one reason or the other have decided to bottle feed their baby – or to give a top-up bottle when necessary. You are the mother – you make the decisions. These are personal decisions so don't let ANYONE tell you that YOU SHOULD be breast-feeding. How does that make you feel when already you are feeling fragile and at times, tearful, sleep-deprived and unsure about what is best.
You can get rid of those baby blues! YES – YOU CAN!!
A few recommendations:
1. As soon as your baby has settled – have a cup of tea and if you're feeling exhausted – go and have a sleep! Put your phone on silent – you can even put a note on the door 'shhhhhhhhhhh we're resting' . It doesn't matter if it is only 10.30 am – just do it – for yourself.
2. And one which can cause even more confusion is to use Google. Don't! As you probably have discovered when you enter any word or phrase, up will come so many 'answers'. When your mind is going around and around – you are already confused. Which one will you chose? You chose one and that doesn't work – then another and another! See what I mean! Google will just add to that confusion.
3. Have that one friend/mother/mother-in-law/wonderful friend and admired mother – whoever that one person may be and ring them – ask them around for a cup of tea and a chat. Maybe they'll bring a casserole for your dinner! Don't feel bad about asking for their advice. They porobably did the same when they were first-time mums.
4. Don't get too involved with a large group of mums who boast about their baby's weight gain, how long his sleeps are, how good he is etc. etc. It serves no purpose to compare babies/toddlers/pre-schoolers – in fact any child of any age (or adult for that matter!)
5. This is so important it should have been at No. 1! Give yourself time – and plenty of it, for you and your body to recuperate from the birth. Rest – and plenty of it, regular meals, putting the baby into it's bed, well fed and wrapped so he can sleep as well. He needs to feed then after a cuddle, be swaddled firmly and put to bed with no 'play time' – far to young for that! I write in my book just how important it is to put in place a routine. The baby will be happy and so will the mum!
6. Don't go out and about with your new born baby until he is sleeping well between feeds and you are have caught up on some sleep. A tiny baby has a fragile bone structure and to be in and out of a baby capsule with tight belts to keep him secure, in and out of a pram then back into a capsule does not encourage a baby to form good sleep habits and routine. The baby will be unsettled and you will feel your stress levels rise.
7. Back to those unkind and unnecessary comments. When you are feeling fragile, any negative comment will cause those feelings of helplessness to hit you full on. Take a deep breath and then another – then say 'this is my decision', then turn and walk away.
8. I hope that when you read this and you're feeling fragile, exhausted, tearful, in general not coping, don't feel ashamed to talk about it with your partner. He needs to understand why you are feeling this way and together you'll get through it. Lots of hugs, ask him for more help around the house, let him give the baby a bottle of expressed breast milk so that you can have a long sleep. A great time for a dad to feel really close to his baby.
9. And here's the biggest tip of all! Read my book at least three times BEFORE the baby is born and then you'll know what to do from the day you get home and with all this knowledge you'll quickly settle into a routine that will ensure the whole family is happy! It is not too late to read my book and adopt some of the suggestions for getting into a routine.
10. Happy parenting! You will look back at this period of your life and be proud that you have raised a beautiful and healthy baby and that with help from understanding and trusted family and friends, you survived the hurdles and hiccups of being a mum!
If you'd like to chat with me in person you can contact me via my Contact Page
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and say hello!