How to survive the first newborn weeks (the more honest version)

November 17, 2016

How to survive the newborn weeks with your sanity and confidence in tact? No, I'm not going to try tell you to get more rest, because sometimes that's the most impractical – and most overheard – advice. Nor will I tell you to sleep when baby sleeps.

What I will share is stuff I've learnt and re-learnt, and what has mostly worked for me, and other new moms I've spoken to over the years. I know there are so many of these articles that tell you what to do, but some of them skim the surface, or tell you what to do rather than NOT what to do.

So here's what's worked for me…

Take off the superhero cape – you don't have to do everything

I can't do it all, nor do I want to do it all, and I appreciate having help around. It's not weak to ask my nanny to watch my child while I shower, nor a friend to bring milk and Milo because I can't get out. Nor am I being lazy if I ask my husband to do the bath, or fill up my car with petrol because it's my worst chore ever. Does that make me a bad mom? Nope. It makes me a smart mom.

Say no to visitors if they don't serve a purpose, or if you're not in the mood

If you don't feel like someone in your space, politely turn out the visitor/s. Your time might be better spent staring in wonder at your newborn, posting pics to social media, or drinking a cup of tea. 

Say yes to anti-depressants

I'm sorry I didn't say yes to anti-depressants when my son was born, but I don't think I realised how bad my baby blues were. While I loved my son, I'm sorry I missed out on enjoying him and motherhood. 

I meet so many women who are miserable, hating motherhood, and not enjoying their newborns because their hormones are so out of whack and they have PND. I don't think it's weak to take pills to treat depression, rather, it's strong to want to look after yourself, an in turn, your child.

Even if you said you wouldn't do something, it might just work

They say we are perfect parents until we actually have kids. Co-sleeping? Formula bottles? Expressing? Breastfeeding in public? You might think it's a terrible idea, but it might just work out, and you know what they say – whatever works (assuming it's good for the baby). 

For example, I wasn't a fan of dummies and my firstborn wasn't interested in them. However, I recently gave my baby one because that's exactly what she needed. And you know what, it's fine. In fact, it's great that she's great.

Look after yourself first

This is a hard one for moms, and I know not everyone will agree with me, but you should come first. I'm not saying you must go for the spa treatment while your child screams in hunger for milk. What I'm saying is that you need a vague amount of watering, feeding and preening in order to be a better functioning mom.

I'm better when I've sorted out my needs first, and I make no apologies or excuses for it.

Get out if you're able – you'll feel like a normal person

These days, some of my highlights include going to DisChem and Woolies. Why? Because I feel normal, functional and with purpose (other than looking after my baby). Sometimes I go solo, and sometimes with the pram, and each time I love it. Also, being at home all the time makes me feel a bit "stuck", and sometimes human engagement outside the house, is awesome. Even if it's my little "yes" to "Do you have a MySchool card?".

Try not to wish it away

You'll hear so much of it, and it's hard not to want to skip the difficult bits, like the first six weeks. I wanted those few weeks to fly quickly my first time round, and missed out and savouring each and every beautiful moment – from that newborn smell, to having my baby fall asleep on my chest, to being able to cradle him in one arm.

Don't pay too much attention to the "perfect" new parents on social media

The more time I spent scrolling through random Instagram pictures, the more I was depressed about my postnatal body. Everyone looks happier, more toned and with more placid-looking babies. And everyone seems to be floating in the euphoria of their newborn babies and days, and seeming rested and in love.

My life is nothing like that, and theirs probably isn't, either. Stop looking, assuming, overestimating and feeling inadequate.

And when you do look, which you probably still will, remember you're not seeing the full story.

Don't listen to all the advice… including this!

This is just my take. That's all. There's no science. Have the confidence to ignore what sounds like rubbish, and go with what makes sense, and speaks to your heart and brain, even when the latter might feel very scrambled!

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  • Paula

    Great read – thank you.
    The worst thing for me when my baby was born was the endless stream of visitors, people who hadn’t visited before suddenly wanted to – and they wanted to hold, feed, bath my newborn, I felt I had to be polite and accommodate their needs, times and entertain then with tea etc. 20 weeks later I simply smile and reply with what is best for me and my son.

    November 17, 2016 at 7:04 am Reply
  • Tanya

    Well done for reaching that point. I said no to a lot of visitors – just couldn’t face making tea for anyone, or “hosting”.

    November 17, 2016 at 10:27 am Reply
  • Marli Delport

    Thank you!! As a first time mommy to be in 16 sleeps I do have overwhelming feelings of excitement and uncertainty. Definitely forwarding this to my two preggo family members!!

    November 17, 2016 at 4:48 pm Reply
    • Tanya

      All the best Marli! I hope the next few days go well, along with the birth and of course, everything after that 🙂

      November 18, 2016 at 5:45 am Reply
  • dummymommy

    LOVE this! Especially the one about the perfect parents on SM. Someone I know recently had a baby and the first few months were HELL – with colic. Someone asked how she was doing and I told her the baby had colic. The other lady replied “oh everything looks great from a Facebook perspective”
    SM isn’t always reality!

    November 18, 2016 at 1:18 pm Reply
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