Surviving Your First Month as a New Mom
I felt almost guilty writing the title for this article. After all, most mommies I know only post Facebook updates filled with charming sentiments like “I never knew love until I laid eyes on my newborn” or “I could just stare at her and hold her all day.” Now don’t get me wrong. I adore my new baby girl. I fell in love with her before she was born, but the overwhelming feeling of adoration came when I saw her little arm waving around after she was born. I was straining to see her after she came out, and then they placed her on me and I looked into her eyes. She was mine! I got to be her mom! So many feelings of joy and amazement filled me and I was hooked on this tiny human. All of the planning and hard work has all come together in one beautiful present. All the clothes you’ve bought, all the travel systems you’ve looked at and the baby shower your best friend organised for you are all distant memories as you look down at your newborn.
But here’s the reality of it: Sometimes I felt overwhelmed and scared. I felt unfit to care for her. I felt like I was being selfish because my body hurt so much during recovery and I wanted nothing but to sleep for even three hours straight. I felt like I wasn’t doing things right. I was fighting to keep a milk supply after getting a breast infection two weeks after delivery. I was exhausted, in pain, hormonal, and scared out of my mind that I was going to suck at being a mom.
My daughter is now eleven weeks old and while I still have feelings of “am I doing this right?” I know I am the best mom for her.
How did we make it through that first month? Aside from family and friends bringing dinners over and helping clean the house, there are some things I tried to do to keep myself from totally losing it.
The first being, take some time to breathe. Between the baby feeding, pooping, and crying, make sure you take some time to relax. Even if that means calling a friend or family member to watch your baby for 1 hour so you can soak in an Epsom salt bath. I found Epsom salts to be a lifesaver. The scented kind may irritate your fragile lady bits, so try regular Epsom salts and lots of them. I bought a big tub at a wholesale store. Also, if you want to get even more spoiled, take your baby’s baby oil and squirt some in the bath water.
Second, Take Care Down There! I had a vaginal birth so unfortunately I can’t speak of C-Section recoveries. But if you had a vaginal birth, buy some Preparation H wipes or another wipe that has witch hazel as an ingredient. They make a big difference on the discomfort down under, even if you don’t get hemorrhoids (and I use the word “discomfort” mildly — sometimes it felt like a dragon was shooting fiery swords when I peed). If your doctor allows, ask for EpiFoam. The over-the-counter spray crap they give you in the hospital is garbage. Go for the medicated foam!
Third, lean on your partner. Your partner can ease a lot of the stress if you let them. If you don’t have a partner or your partner isn’t the nurturing type, lean on your BFF. Let them help. You don’t have to be a martyr. If they don’t know what to do, tell them. They are just learning to figure this parenting thing out, too.
Fourth, realize this time is temporary and goes quickly. I know, I know… people told me that, too, and I got kinda irritated. It sure doesn’t feel like anything is going quick, sans your child’s pee and poop schedule. But, it does. It really, really does. Riley is already in her 3-6 month old clothes. I look at her newborn clothes and get all sentimental and sad. “She JUST fit into these! Look how small she was,” I mutter.
In the end, just realize this “new parent” stuff is scary, exciting, exhausting, and invigorating. Being a “mom” or “dad” is a title nobody can take from you. You are now a parent for life, no matter what.
You will get through this. But, seriously though… get the foam.