We once had to rush to the emergency room because she had reflux. This caused her to bring up her food through her mouth and nose after every feed. This on its own is a topic for another day.
Needless to say, my journey as a mom for the first time presented me with enormous challenges. and stress.
I want to chat about a couple of stress factors new parents experience.
This is the reality for a lot of new parents. The sleeping patterns of a newborn are nothing like ours. They cannot make a distinction between day and night. They also sleep for shorter periods of time, so even if they sleep during the night, you will be up a couple of times. Feeding is a big part of the newborn stage. So chances are you will be breast or bottle feeding every 2-3 hours for the first few months.
There would be days where I would be up for 12 straight hours. My daughter would be up for the whole night. She would then sleep during the day, and all my attempts to sleep with her would fail. This is due to either the hot daytime weather or my constant failed attempts at cleaning and cooking.
Sleep deprivation has negative effects on our bodies. Your brain cannot function as it should and your immune system affected. This creates a big shock for our well-being and we usually have no idea how to navigate our way around this. Adjusting to a baby’s sleeping routine is quite challenging.
I cannot even begin to explain the amount of resentment I had towards my husband. On occasion, I would have the same resentment towards my newborn. My husband’s was due to the amount of jealousy I had. I would be up at night feeding the baby, and we would be dead asleep. At that very moment, he was a useless part of my life because he had useless nipples. I was projecting at that very moment because there is only so much he can do. Yes, he would help with the burping, but I would sometimes not even wake him up to ask for his help. The man’s life never changes as much as the woman’s after childbirth. I sometimes could not help but beat myself up for seeing through an unplanned pregnancy. This caused the resentment towards my daughter.
Breastfeeding is not as easy as some people set it out to be. Some moms struggle to establish a good and healthy breastfeeding relationship. Moms struggle with a couple of feeding issues;
-Establishing the right latch,
-Low or high milk production,
This is a very tiring time for any new mom and creates a lot of stress for both mom and dad.
The primary mode of communication for any newborn baby is crying. Babies cry when their nappy is wet or when they are hot or cold. They cry when they are sick or hungry and whenever they feel like it is necessary for them to do so. The thing is, it is hardly ever necessary for us, but we have to manage it. So can you imagine the parent’s frustrations when they have ticked all the boxes of what could be causing the baby’s cry, but the crying does not stop? I remember one sad afternoon when I started crying with my daughter because I had no clue why she was crying.
The cry pierces through the depths of your soul and leaves you feeling helpless.
I am a huge proponent of attachment parenting. In my household, attachment parenting was very selective. Our newborn did not want anyone to hold her except mommy. This was very stressful for me because now and again I would need to take a bath. Oh, you thought you would be able to take a bath daily? Don’t be silly.
I would have to sit around with her on most days. On some days she would not even want to sleep in her cot but in my hands.
I have often heard moms blamed for spoiling a 2-week old baby who wants cuddles and holding all the time. I was the type of parent who ignored everything they told me about my parenting style.
How can we survive new mommy stressors?
Learn to ask for help.
I know it is easier to say “I’m okay” rather than saying ”no, I am not okay. I have not slept well in 2 weeks, taken a bath in 2 days, or had anything to eat the whole day’. The latter is what we would like to say, but we say the former in an attempt to not burden people with our problems. That’s the thing, some people actually want to hear the latter. They want to share in your frustration and needed a way to jump in and help out. The day I was ready to throw my daughter out the window (it happens sometimes), was the day I had to ask for help. One of my sisters was there within 30 minutes and I managed to bath, eat and sleep. It is not an easy thing to learn, but for the sake of your sanity, we need to try and reach out. Whether you need help with feeding the baby or adopting a sleeping routine, there is always someone willing to help out.
Communicate with your partner
We also need to learn to tell our partners what we need help with and stop assuming they know what needs to be done. In most cases, my frustrations stemmed from him not meeting my expectations. These expectations were always in my head and I would never communicate them to my husband. It would surprise us how active dads want to be in the parenting journey. Their challenge is not knowing where to even begin. My husband still thought I was the same superwoman I was before childbirth. I had to make him aware that our world has changed. He was always happy to help out where I needed help. This lifted a lot of weight off my shoulders. It also gave me more room to do the things that were more important to me at that time.
Did you notice how cleaning the house and preparing dinner was not mentioned on the list of things I did when I got help? This is because they fell off my list of important things to do, and rightly so. I was someone’s now, and it was important for me to try and figure out this new life out without adding things on my plate.
It is impossible to be superwoman, especially during the newborn stage. Look at your ‘need-to-do list regularly and re-prioritize as often as possible.
Get in touch with a Lactation Consultant
Like I said, a lot of woman experience one challenge or the other when it comes to breastfeeding. Some of them give up as the challenges come up or the challenges persist, without considering what their options are. Lactation Consultants are breastfeeding professionals whose primary job is to offer guidance to breastfeeding mothers. They also help mothers overcome whatever problems they may encounter in this journey. You can look up a Lactation Consultant near you here.