Thursday, April 15, 2010

Surviving those first few weeks with your newborn

Bringing your new baby home: Five Top Tips for Survival.

Congratulations! You’ve nurtured your baby for nine months, prepared for labour and birth, and now you are ready to bring your beautiful miracle home. Those first few weeks will fly, so you will want to enjoy them as much as possible. There’s no doubt that the early days can be incredibly challenging, particularly if you are establishing breast feeding too. But there are ways that you can make the experience one to remember – for the right reasons! Your first few weeks can be the beautiful baby-moon you hoped for if you follow these tips and keep an open mind.

Great nutrition is my number one tip. It is so important, as you may experience some sleep deprivation and being as healthy as possible will help you weather the storm. If you are breastfeeding your baby it is imperative that you are getting optimum nutrition. Your baby will be depending on you for his nutritional requirements too.
So keep healthy snacks at the ready. Have nuts, seeds and dried fruits mixed up in a container. I package them up in little zip lock bags, so they are easy to grab whenever I sit down to breastfeed the little one.
Healthy muffins, cooked in large batches and frozen take very little time to defrost and can be a saviour when you’re starving. Keep in mind that you can make savoury muffins too. Experiment with adding nuts and seeds, and you’ll have a high protein healthy snack. Small yogurts, cottage cheese, cheese cubes, hummus dip and vegetable sticks all work as fabulous healthy snacks. Having them ready to go will mean that you’ll never have to reach for a candy bar or other heavily processed, unhealthy snacks. A quick smoothie made with fresh fruit, yogurt and milk (you can use rice or almond milk if you are lactose intolerant) is a great way to keep you full and hydrated. Be sure to drink plenty of water – you’ll need it.

Don’t skimp on the multivitamins and other supplements now. Fish oil is an excellent source of omega three fatty acids – essential for your baby’s brain growth, and for your health too. My midwife suggested I could take up to 10000mgs a day (that’s ten capsules!) particularly if I started to feel “blue”. She explained that recent studies suggested that fish oil worked extremely well for women with post-natal depression.
Make sure you have the freezer filled with healthy casseroles and soups ready to warm up for an easy meal.

Everyone will want to meet your new bundle of joy, so here is my second tip: limit the number of visitors you have in the first few weeks. There is truly nothing like a newborn, and yes, it is wonderful to share your joy, but having visitors can be exhausting, and the last thing you need is to add to your fatigue. Limit your first visitors to close family and friends. Great aunt Ethel, whom you see once a decade, can wait until the baby is a little older. If you feel you can’t say “no”, have someone else do it for you. They just need to say: “The new family would like to have some uninterrupted time getting to know each other, but they’d love to see you in a few weeks”.
Alternatively, set a date for your baby’s naming ceremony or christening and tell them they’ll get to meet the new baby then.
I can’t stress enough how important it is to have time to yourselves. When I had my fifth child I made it clear that our family needed time alone, and I am so glad I did. It was a magical time.

If you do have visitors, ask for help. Ask them to bring a ready cooked healthy meal or snacks. Alternatively, they can take away a basket of laundry or bring a duster to help out with the cleaning. When asked what you like as a gift, consider asking for meals, chores to be done, or paying for a cleaning service.

You will be spending a lot of time sitting with your baby, particularly if you are breastfeeding, so have an area of the living room set up for you and baby. That way you won’t feel that you are tucked away, you can still feel like you are in the land of the living, a part of what is going on in the household. Personally I found it really helped to have one area that was always tidy and ready for me and the baby. I had a comfortable arm chair, a table with a drink bottle, snacks, wet wipes, a book and the TV remote all ready for whenever I sat down. Whenever my little one went to sleep, I’d take the time to quickly tidy the area, ready for our next sitting session.

My last tip may seem obvious, but it is very important: have your partner or another trusted loved one at home for at least the first week. Having a new baby completely dependent on you can feel isolating at times, so it is good to have help at hand. Sometimes you need someone to fetch something for you, to heat up some soup, or to hold your little one while you shower. Or you might just need a hug. It is good to have someone understanding and caring with you. You should try to get as much rest as possible, so knowing you have a backup if the baby wakes before you are ready is a bonus.

Enjoy the first weeks with your newborn. Your tiny, perfect miracle will never be that small again!

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