Survival tips for young mothers
Supportive information to help you prepare for life with baby.
Having a baby is a life-changing experience. Give yourself time to adjust to this change. Being a new mum can be exciting, exhausting, scary, and everything else in between. This survival guide to life with baby might help you handle the early months of being a mum.
- Don’t try to be Supermum. It takes time to learn how to look after your baby. You might make mistakes to start with, you may not be able to always get your baby to settle or stop crying. You might know other mothers whose babies sleep through the night, never seem to cry and the mother has got back into her jeans within a month or two! Every baby is different and so is every mother. Take time to get to know your baby and to get into a routine. And don’t knock yourself out trying to be Supermum. Tip: Get some clothes that don’t need ironing.
- Be prepared. Babies don’t wait for anything! It’ll save your nerves and your baby’s if you try to get into the habit of preparing in advance. If you’re bottle feeding, having the bottles sterilised and ready to use is important. Make sure you always have enough formula milk and nappies etc. in the house. Keep your baby bag full of the stuff you’ll need when you go out. Think about what your baby needs and plan ahead. It really does help.
- Taking care of you. Looking after your baby is a full-time job in the early weeks and months, but you need to look after yourself as well. You might not be getting very much sleep at night so try to take a nap during the day when your baby sleeps. Try to eat regularly. Keep food in the house for sandwiches, and quick meals like eggs or beans on toast or salads as it may be difficult to get time to cook, especially if you live on your own. It’s important to look after yourself as well as your baby. Tip: Get an easy-to-manage haircut.
- Say yes! If your family or friends offer to help, say yes. If they offer to look after the baby for an hour or two so you can sleep or have a break, take them up on it. In the beginning you mightn’t want anyone else to do things for your baby, but do try to let them, as long as you know and trust them. A short break from your baby can help you relax and have more energy and patience to look after the baby when you come back.
- See people when you want. You might find people want to call to see the baby after s/he is born. This can be lovely but it can also be very tiring for you and the baby. Don’t cut yourself off from other people but arrange for them to visit or to visit them when it suits you and the baby.
- Get out and about. It’s too easy to stay in the house when you’ve a baby or small child, as it might seem like such a hassle to get organised to go out. It can be good to get out and about even for a walk to the shops. Just a change of scenery can cheer you up. Wrap your baby up well if it’s cold outside and make sure to bring a rain-cover for the buggy. Fresh air is good for you and your baby and the exercise can help you stay in shape. Remember: You do get a bit lonely.
- Play with your baby. You might think there’s no point in talking much to your baby or playing with him/her in the early days, but it really is worthwhile. Your baby will react to your voice and your face. Don’t forget, from very early on, your baby may try to copy your smiles and frowns, and will respond to toys and sounds – like you singing a nursery rhyme. Your baby doesn’t care if you sing like a blocked drain or if you’re listing out your shopping, s/he will still be entertained!
- Talk about it. Sometimes after having a baby or even later when your baby is older you may feel down in the dumps, stressed or find it hard to cope. Don’t keep this all to yourself. Do talk to someone, maybe your boyfriend, husband, mum or friend. If this doesn’t help, have a chat with your doctor or the Public Health Nurse. It’s OK to say that you are finding things tough. It’s normal. Talking can help. Sometimes it helps to meet and talk to other young mothers, as friends without babies may not be all that interested.
- Make time for you. There’s less free time when you are a mum but it’s important to try to make some time for yourself. If you are in a relationship, try to get out together sometimes, text or talk on the phone often if you don’t live together. Small treats like sitting down with a magazine, painting your toenails or watching your favourite TV programme can recharge your batteries. As your baby gets into some sort of a routine (and it may take a while), try to pick out a half hour that’s just for you.
- Don’t give up on your dreams. If you didn’t plan to have a baby at a young age it might seem that your life is not working out the way you wanted. Having your baby doesn’t mean that you still can’t do what you hoped. You might have to slow your plans down or change the way you were going to do things but it doesn’t mean that you have to give them up. You can still do things in your life and be a good mum. Check out if there is a Teen Parents Support Programme in your area or go to your local family centre, library or FÁS office to see what’s on offer. Go for it!
Content developed by Treoir the National Information Centre for Unmarried Parents.