Your Survival Guide For the First 2 Weeks With Baby
because starting your motherhood journey can be hard.
It’s THE most incredible experience- welcoming a new life into your family. There is so much joy and wonder and love. But. You grew a human. It came out of your body. Now you’ve gotta take care of this baby, and yourself. You’ve got a lot on. These ideas should help ease the experience.
In what other scenario does a woman have the world and his wife round for a cuppa within a 2 week period? It’s lovely that your family and friends are excited to meet your baby, but believe me when I say you will not feel like entertaining. You’re not ill (not necessarily anyway, although of course some women may be unwell to varying degrees) but you are bleeding heavily, you are crying regularly, you are leaking milk everywhere.
Now I’m not saying don’t let your mums round, but I am giving you a nudge to think about who you will be comfortable with at this insanely vulnerable time. If you want to breastfeed, and you’re not happy getting your boobs out in front of someone, they can’t really be in your company more than 10 minutes at this time.
So how to tackle this:
Limit all visits to 30 minutes- make this announcement in advance. If you’re struggling to assert this, a good approach is ‘the midwife said… she needs to rest’ from your partner. Or just go to bed. Don’t worry about being rude (not easy, I know) but, hello- again, you grew a human and it came out of your body and now constantly depends on you- you need all the rest you can get.
Let your visitors know you have a bring your own/ make your own/ clear up your own policy- you cannot be making tea for an endless procession of wellwishers.
Operate an exchange programme- viewings of the baby traded for food or chores- taking your dog for a walk, getting your washing out, taking an older sibling to the park. People want to help, so don’t do that British thing of ‘oh no honestly, we’re fine!” if you’re drowning in stuff. Say ‘yes please, it would be fantastic if you could…’.
Stay in your PJs- resist the urge to present yourself as ‘doing really well’- again- you just grew a human. You are basically a God. Clothing is irrelevant right now. Wear your PJs because they are comfy, because you can easily be in and out of bed when you fancy, and because then people will remember that you just had a baby.
Pass the Baby
If you can nail the visitors thing, you might not need to worry about this, but good to be aware. Your baby can barely see a thing. They rely on their sense of smell to tell them they are safe- and what does safe mean? Close to their mother. All of their instincts are screaming at them- DO NOT GET MORE THAN A FEW FEET FROM HER OR YOU WILL BE CUT OFF FROM THE LIQUID GOLD. When they are unsettled and behave like it’s the end of the world, to them it literally is.
Everyone loves a cuddle with a baby. But we all know people who wear a squirt too much fragrance If you get your baby back smelling of perfume, that’s what your baby can smell too, and it can be disorienting for them, leading to unsettled periods.
It’s likely too that your mammalian instincts are settling in, and that YOUR instincts are screaming at YOU- ‘give me back my baby!’, especially if they become upset. In that case you might find yourself drenched in milk (if you’ve hypnobirthed, you’ll know all about that mind-body connection, and this is one clear example…).
Again, it’s about balance- do what feels right for you at the time. But don’t feel obligated to let people hold the baby- they’re not a new toy, they’re your small human, and respecting their perspective can make your own life much easier.
If you can get your baby comfy in a sling (more on this to come), this can resolve this issue for you altogether.
There will be a moment, maybe on day 4, when you will look at your partner and think, “there are 2 adults in this house and one newborn baby. How come no one can eat a meal or have a shower??” It’s perplexing. They are gorgeous little time thieves, and this might leave you struggling to prepare nutritious food.
Now don’t get me wrong, there’s a nothing to say you can’t eat cake 3 times a day and take hourly chocolate breaks, but as well as that you’ll want to support your postnatal recovery with food.
So some options are- batch cooking and freezing before baby arrives, asking for meals in lieu of gifts when people visit, or each day preparing food when the odd opportunity comes up- baby asleep on mum, Dad can nip off and chop up some greens etc. Avoid the beige buffet.
You can also think about smoothies to help get your intake of all the good things up. My favourite is a cacao powder concoction that tastes like a chocolate milkshake but is packed with protein, magnesium and iron.
Sadly this isn’t a section about getting back to your prosecco/ rioja/ gin habit (although there is no judgement here…) but it’s all about water. If you are breastfeeding, you need to up your water intake significantly. If you’re going to do this magic of turning water into liquid gold, you’ve gotta fill the tank. On top of this, your body needs to be hydrated for recovery from any birth. AND….
You do not want to end up constipated. THERE. I said it. You may well have heard the legends about the first number two after having a baby. I’m not going into any more detail except to say stay hydrated, for your own sake.
If you are someone who likes to use their arms and hands now and then, you’ll want to invest in a sling. You may or may not have heard that babies like to be held A LOT, which is so lovely, reclining comfortably and breathing them in as they snooze in your arms. It’s like a legal high. But sometimes you might like to treat yourself to a wee or some of that food and drink we mentioned- you know, the real luxuries in life.
Or if you have older children to entertain, this is a way you can do puzzles/ stickers/ board games/ colouring etc and make them feel they have your full attention.
Wearing your baby keeps them calm and content, and therefore makes your life easier. That’s the name of the game here. Meeting baby’s need for closeness in a way that keeps you able to meet your needs too- WIN WIN. Put yourself in their socks- they have never known laying on a flat surface in a quiet space. Your smell, your heartbeat, your movement all reassure them that they are safe.
Our resident babywearing consultant Lizzie Start will be scheduling local workshops and online sessions in our group soon. Click here to join the free community.
I could go on. And on and on…
But I know it’s hard to see past the birth, and there is only so much you can take in.
#doitlikeamother #positiveimperfectbirth #incredibleimperfectmothers
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I’ve distilled everything I’ve learnt from 4 years of hypnobirthing, parenting, and the thousands of pounds I’ve invested in my personal and business development, and applied it to parenting. This stuff has transformed how I feel about my mothering experience. I’m packaging it up in bite sized chunks, because, HELLO- you’re busy. It’s going to be amazing.