Congratulations, your precious newborn has arrived. You survived the pregnancy in spite of the strange food cravings and inconveniencing weight gain. You soldiered your way through labor and delivery to finally give birth and bring your bundle of joy home. Now the sense of accomplishment you had is slowly giving way to equal parts of bewilderment and joy as you contemplate all the changes you’ll have to make as a new parent.
Worry not. All new parents feel this confusion at first. The trick to handling this transition is to be adequately prepared. Ideally, you should have started planning for the baby’s arrival as soon as you received news of the pregnancy. Those nine months are the perfect time for you to go shopping for the cute baby clothes, toys, cots, carriers, diapers and other numerous items you will need to take care of your baby.
It is important to have all the essential items you feel you will need, before the baby is actually born. Having these items on hand will help you feel confident and ready to tackle the host of unfamiliar things you’ll have to nail down as routine from the minute you take your baby home. However, no matter how ready you think you are, nothing can fully prepare you for the upheaval a baby brings into your lives. You will now have to adjust your schedule to fit in an endless routine of feeding, diaper changes, sleepless nights and other responsibilities that come with being a new parent.
Top tips and tricks for surviving the first month of parenthood
Being a new parent is tough and the role requires everyone involved to adapt. The tricks and tips below should help you make it through the first month:
•Take time off work
This is mostly for fathers. If you can, take paternity leave. Your wife will need all the help she can get for those crucial first weeks, and having you there will ease her mind. Pitch in to clean, change and feed the baby or just get busy doing some chores around the home. If you cannot be there yourself, arrange to have a family member or close friend come over to help out.
•Get enough rest and take care of yourself
Both parents need enough rest to handle all the demands of a new baby. You’ve probably heard that the best time to sleep is when your baby is sleeping – this is the best advice you can get. Remember, your body has been through an emotional and physical wringer and you will need a lot of care and rest to recover. Don’t try to take on everything at once and only handle the bare minimum for the first few days until you establish a routine.
•Feeding the baby
Whether you decide to bottle or breastfeed, ensure you do it on demand. Babies’ stomachs are quite tiny at first and they need frequent feeding to get enough nourishment. You might find it easier to express some breast milk so that your husband or someone else can take over the feeding for a few hours each day to give you a break. Make sure that you also eat a balanced diet with plenty of fluids to keep up your strength.
•Bath time routine
Bathing the baby might be enjoyable but it’s not really necessary for a newborn. The best way to bathe newborns is by dipping a soft cloth in warm water, then gently washing their eyes, face, head, ears, body and bottom, taking care to clean all crevices and folds. Finish up by cleaning the cord gently with a cotton swab dipped in a little alcohol or water. To make the process easier for both of you, you can purchase a versatile, ergonomic baby bath tub that actually grows with the baby. Such bath tubs can be adjusted to suit baby’s various growth stages.
Keep in mind that giving birth is not only traumatic for you but also for the baby. Due to this, it is important to respond to their cries every time, to foster a relationship based on trust. This will also teach them that you are there for them, no matter what.
Also, remember to pay attention to your marriage and to ask for help when you need it. Both of you are going through a huge, stressful and wonderful transition and need to adapt to the situation. Tempers can be short and cross words might be exchanged, but this is understandable for any sleep-deprived couple that has to deal with caring for a miniature human.
Acknowledge that things will be a little messy, confusing and hellish for a while, but this period will pass and things will get easier.