When you’re a new mom, you’re often overwhelmed, exhausted yet happy, you cry and you laugh. Sometimes all at once! Life now revolves around your new baby and being on your toes 24/7 is your new normal. In the unending chaos that a newborn brings, it can be easy to forget yourself and relegate self-care to the backburner. However, what a lot of mothers don’t realize at first is that their body deserves some tender loving care too. So don’t wait until the signals your body has been sending out, turn into desperate pleas for attention.
We talked to some experts about the 5 hardest challenges a new mom faces. Here are their strategies for dealing with each one.
1. Adjusting to motherhood
There’s no other change like having a baby, is it?
Motherhood is a long journey but brings with it many rewards. The transition to motherhood involves a lot of hard work at first and brings a change in identity. The first few months of motherhood are spent learning to see yourself as a mother and trying to understand your baby in a better manner.
Challenges that come with Motherhood
There are so many challenges that come with parenthood, some of which you might have never expected. The adjustments require a lot of time and effort, from rebuilding your day to day life activities to making every decision regarding your baby and their wellbeing.
- Physical recovery after childbirth: It takes time for a woman’s body to heal post-pregnancy. Pregnancy brings with it many changes to the body and takes time to recover after giving birth. Tiredness, pain, fear of pain, breastfeeding, and loss of libido are a few things that every new mom goes through right after delivery. Using the right mom care products can help in recovering from delivery.
- Adjusting to a newborn baby: This might include loss of time as a couple. The couple time is now mostly family time. From grandparents to your neighbors, almost everyone is scheduling visits to see you and your little one. This leaves you with very little time for yourself or with your partner.
- Relationships and sex: Almost all couples have less sex after having a baby and many feel less intimate with their partner. But, just because you have a baby, doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy dates like before. Dress up, get a sitter and get going. For increasing frequency of sex during date nights, make sure you and your partner are focussed on each other and that your baby is being looked after by a sitter or a family member.
Solutions to overcome the struggle:
Adjustment to motherhood is not an easy task . For many, adjusting to motherhood requires going through a lot of complex, difficult emotions, and experiences. But don’t worry, here are a few ways to overcome stress and make the transition to motherhood easier.
- Connect with other parents: One of the toughest challenges for a new mom is making a sheer volume of decisions, starting from the first feeding decision. This might be overwhelming and might let you down. Having a connection with other parents and sharing stuff be it online or in meetings and groups, can help you feel better. This sense of community can help you navigate through the most difficult decisions and serve to help you feel that you are not alone.
- Take out time for self-care: As a new parent or single parent, you know very well that to take time out for yourself is difficult. Hence, you must resort to asking help from your partner, friends or family whenever needed. It is important to understand that caring for your family starts with caring for yourself. Choose natural body care products to relax your body and mind.
- Be mindful of the postpartum stress: This is one of the most important things that moms need to be aware of. Too many women suffer needlessly from postpartum depression because they think what they are feeling is normal. It’s always better to speak to close friends or family members when you’re faced with a difficult situation or need help. Having extra hands on deck can help you organise things in a better manner and may even free up some time for you to sleep or look after yourself. If you are not keeping well after childbirth or are bothered by a medical issue then consult your doctor and follow their recommendations.
2. Struggle With Breastfeeding
Nursing your baby is the most natural thing in the world. But the truth is that breastfeeding may not always be effortless. It’s very common for moms, especially first-time mothers, to need a bit of assistance getting the baby to latch on or to look for signs that things are going well or that there might be a problem.
Problems related to Breastfeeding
Difficulties with getting your baby to latch, less milk supply, and sore nipples are just some of the hardships a new mom encounters. One of the leading reasons a lot of moms stop breastfeeding early is due to discomfort caused by nursing.
Here’s a look at some common problems related to breastfeeding and how you can deal with them.
- Low Milk Supply: If you are breastfeeding less due to the pain, this could result in a decrease in your milk supply.
- Breast Problems: Engorgement, blebs, and plugged ducts can result from not breastfeeding often enough.
- Cracked Nipples: Sore, cracked, or bleeding nipples might make it so painful to nurse that you no longer want to continue to breastfeed.
What can you do to overcome the struggle?
A new mom’s nipples are not accustomed to the sudden and intense action they receive on birth. Whether it’s because of an improper latch or sore nipples, nursing sessions can be uncomfortable for a new mom. Thankfully, within a few weeks with proper remedies, this tends to sort itself out and breastfeeding becomes second nature.
- Rub your nipple and areola with your breast milk after each feeding to moisturize and soothe sore nipples. If possible, keep your nipples exposed and allow them to air dry. You can even opt for a Lanolin-free nipple butter to soothe dry, cracked nipples.
- Perfecting the latch: If the latch isn’t proper, the task gets even more taxing. The first few moments of a breastfeeding session are spent on finding that latch so that the baby starts suckling comfortably. But the process of perfecting the proper latch may take some time.
- Hydrogel pads can be chilled in the refrigerator or freezer and then placed on your breasts after feedings to help heal and soothe your nipples.
- Alternate breastfeeding positions regularly to prevent one area of the nipple from getting sore.
- Natural nipple butter can be extremely effective in helping ease the pain. Look for organic formulations that soothe cracked nipples and reduce swelling.
3. Dealing with unsolicited advice
When a baby is born, a lot of advice starts pouring in from friends, family, colleagues, and even strangers sometimes. Suddenly everyone becomes an expert and they start telling you how to feed, burp, dress or hold the baby. Some advice may be useful, and you feel like you are getting to know a lot. But then there’s also some unwanted advice, that just leaves you confused and sometimes annoyed.
How to deal with unwanted advice?
- Keep an open mind: What we need to remember is that as annoying it may seem, but most of the advice is well-intentioned. Babies bring out everyone’s compassionate side, and when someone sees you struggling with something, they take it on them as their duty to help you out.
- Check with your doctor first: If it involves your baby’s health, then before acting out on any suggestion, no matter how trusted the source be, you should always consult a medical expert. Also when following any advice from the internet, run it by your partner or your pediatrician first.
- Politely decline unwanted advice from strangers: When a stranger stops you on the road and starts questioning your parenting and starts meting out advice, then the best way is to take the high road. Just give them your biggest smile, thank them, and move on.
- A mother knows the best: No one knows a child better than his/her parents. Every child is different and a mother knows which solution is going to work the best for her child.
A few new moms share their stories on what are the things they are absolutely tired of hearing. Read here.
4. Dealing with postpartum depression
Having a baby is one of the most important and happiest events in a mom’s life. While life with a new baby can be thrilling and rewarding, you may also feel like you are going through a roller coaster of emotions. After a few weeks of giving birth, many new moms experience the baby blues and they may feel tired and stressed all the time.
Signs of Postpartum depression
While it’s normal to feel a mild bout of depression, it should subside in a couple of weeks. However, 10-20% of new moms experience a more severe form of depression – postpartum depression. When the baby blues start morphing into postpartum depression, it’s time to seek help.
- Eating and sleeping disturbances: Either you haven’t been eating anything for more than 2 days in a row or you are just not able to stop eating. Same is with sleep. Either you are sleeping all the time or you are unable to sleep even when you have the chance.
- Feelings of guilt and shame: You are doubting yourself as a mother. You sense that whatever you are doing is not good enough and have thoughts that maybe you aren’t a good mother. Feelings of helplessness, hopelessness or feeling worthless are some of the signs that point towards depression.
- Uncontrollable thoughts of harm yourself or the baby: It’s common for a new mom to be worried about her baby. But when you are so worried that you can’t even leave the baby’s bedside when he/she is asleep, then this is a sign of depression.
How to deal with postpartum depression?
It is treated much like any other types of depression. The good news is, with help, most women can overcome postpartum depression and feel better.
- Support: A support group with new moms and moms experiencing postpartum depression will help you feel better. This will remind you that you aren’t alone. Seeing other mothers overcome depression will give you the confidence boost that you need.
- Counseling or Talk-Therapy: As it is with other types of depression, doctors often suggest counseling, which is also known as Talk-Therapy. You will meet with a counselor, who will ask personal questions, which should be answered honestly. Whatever you talk will stay only between the two of you. And don’t worry, no one will judge you.
Feeling zombie-like pretty much comes with the territory when you have a new baby. And this isn’t the kind of sleep deprivation that comes with a binge-watching spree on Netflix when you have an 8 am meeting the next day. Instead, it may cause a chronic feeling of exhaustion, headaches, and irritability and can make dealing with your new mom routine that much harder.
Newborns need constant care and attention, which means your entire sleeping schedule is thrown out of the window. Poor sleep can adversely affect health, and it also has a critical impact on pregnant women. Symptoms that can lead to postnatal insomnia include feeling overwhelmed by day-to-day responsibilities, worrying about future events, or feeling overstimulated by all the new experiences that you are going through.
Solutions to help sleep better
- Understand and accept that sleep deprivation is a part of the course.
- ‘Sleep when the baby sleeps’ doesn’t always work: If only it were so simple! Whoever advises you that, probably overlooks the fact that babies sleep for odd lengths of time and at odd periods throughout the day. So, just sneak in a few naps that will help you sustain through the worst days.
- Express and store milk so that someone else can feed the baby when you are asleep.
- Accept help from whoever offers; the husband, parents, even unsuspecting friends. Extra helping hands and family members can help ease your burden and help you get some rest.
- Take some time off to relax and ask a friend or a family member to look after the baby. You can use this time to pamper yourself with natural body care products and feel good or pursue a hobby such as reading a book.
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