Having a baby is a life-changing experience and an exciting new step in life. At the beginning becoming a parent may seem overwhelming so it is important to give yourself time to adjust to this change. As a new mother you will experience a range of emotions and new situations so here are some tips to help you adjust to parenthood and settle in to your new role as a mother.
Advice for new mothers
It takes time to learn how to look after your baby and everyone will make mistakes or be uncertain at the beginning. It is understandable to feel frustrated if you may not be able to get your baby to settle or stop crying. Try to trust your instincts and take time to get to know your baby and to get into a routine. Over time you will feel more confident is your ability as a parent and be able to recognise your babies needs.
Trying to be prepared will help save you and your baby from unnecessary stress. If you’re bottle feeding, having the bottles sterilised and ready to use is important. Have enough formula milk and nappies etc. in the house where possible will also help your day to run smoothly. Keeping your baby bag full the supplies need when you go out will allow you to enjoy and make the most of your time. Try to think about what your baby needs before leaving the house and try plan ahead.
Look after yourself
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 and to remember that if you are breastfeeding your diet will also be the babies diet.
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 may not 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.
Also, 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.
Leave the house
It can seem like the easier option 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. But 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.
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.
Talk about it
Sometimes after having a baby or even later women can suffer from postpartum depression, stress or find it hard to cope with the lifestyle change. Don’t keep this all to yourself. Talk to someone, maybe your partner, parents or friend. If this doesn’t help, you should consider speaking 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
Although there is less free time when you become a parent it is 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 try to pick out a half hour that’s just for you.
Plan for the future
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 mother. Check out if there is a Teen Parents Support Programme in your area or go to your local family centre, library or Solas office to see what’s on offer.
Need more information?
We are here to answer your questions and talk through your options. Our online chat service is for 16 to 25 year olds and is available Monday to Friday, 4pm to 8pm. Chat to us now about your situation.