If you are a new mum or are about to become one, Congratulations! Welcome to the most blissful and the most stressful experience you will ever have in your lifetime. While there is a lot of joy to be had in all the little aspects a baby unlocks in your life, the transition can be overwhelming, daunting and scary! As an inexperienced mother, it is easy to let expectations run away with you, in which case you are left biting off more than you can chew, trying to do too much, and not feeling like you are successful at handling this new role.
The struggles of being a new mum are many. Lack of sleep, change in roles, having a tiny human entirely dependent on you, schedules, managing your home, life, and work in the balance, not to mention postpartum, are all enough to throw you completely out of whack. However, getting on top of things is not too difficult as long as you organize yourself and prioritize the important things.
Here are some of the most common struggles of new mums and how to tackle them.
1. Sleep Deprivation
This is the first on the list for all new parents, mums and dads alike. A new baby comes with no instruction manual, unpredictable eating and sleeping habits, and a huge responsibility. They have us wrapped around their little finger from the get-go. One wail from them is enough to send us scrambling in all directions in the middle of the night to soothe their needs.
In an attempt to stay on top of housework and all the other tasks on your to-do list, new mothers often run themselves ragged in the first few months to no avail. Add that to the constant interruptions in your sleep at night, and you have the perfect formula to make yourself constantly stressed, tired, and in a zombie-like state that can best be labelled Mombie. Keep this on for too long, and it could adversely affect your mental and physical health.
You should make it a point to take a nap whenever your baby sleeps. Don’t use baby’s nap times to catch up on chores. Remember that you cannot pour from an empty cup. Take care of yourself and ask for help when you need it. Do not go around like you’re superhuman and can take care of everything. It takes a village to raise a child. Find your village.
2. Body Image Issues
Another big struggle for new mothers is coming to terms with their new bodies. There is a lot to get used to; weight, stubborn fat, the shape and size of your breasts, the loose skin around your tummy, stretch marks, scars etc. You can feel like you don’t recognize the woman staring at you from the mirror.
Adding fuel to the fire are the media images of celebrities that seem to give birth and return to their perfect body shapes instantly. It may not be easy to find time to exercise or go to the gym with a baby, and your doctor may not recommend strenuous exercise soon after a C-section.
Let me say here, you are allowed to not look your best, at least for a little bit. Giving birth is no small feat. However, you can get back into shape with proper diet and exercise, but it will take roughly one year to get back in shape realistically. So take it slow and look for bodyweight workout moves you can do conveniently at home. Some great activities to trim your baby weight include lunges, squats, reverse crunches, and good old cardio. However, you must consult a doctor before starting any exercise regimen, especially after a C section.
3. No Time for Yourself
Once you become a mother, your life gets tied up with your baby. Everything you do revolves around your child. I’m not even talking about the big stuff. There are times when even taking a bath seems like a luxury you can’t make time for. Your “me” time is essential. It may seem complicated, but you still need to take some time that you can use to take care of yourself.
While you may not go out like you used to, you can still meet friends and family. If you do want to go out, look for baby-friendly places. You can take your baby along. Get your partner to step in and let you have a night off. If your husband or a family member can babysit, you should take time for some self-care.
4. Post-Partum or Baby Blues
Having a baby is a stressful business. When you factor in the lack of sleep, the new responsibilities you have, and the limited amount of time you have for yourself, it is not surprising that many new mums feel overwhelmed and like they’re on an emotional rollercoaster. Depression and mood swings are prevalent and typical in new mothers, and they are called baby blues. Most women experience at least a few symptoms of baby blues after childbirth. The fluctuating hormones bring on these blues, stress, sleep deprivation, isolation, and fatigue after the delivery. You are prone to feel weepy, overwhelmed, and fragile emotionally. Severe cases are called postpartum depression and should be treated professionally.
Human beings need positive social contact. This will relieve more efficiently than other methods of stress reduction. Find some supportive adult contact. Connect with others and make your relationships a priority. When you’re feeling blue, you need to stay connected with family and friends. Don’t isolate yourself, and don’t keep your feelings to yourself. Sometimes an emotional outlet is all you need. Share what you’re going through, the good stuff and the bad, with at least one person who will hear you out without judgment and give you support and reassurance.