Thrive. Don't Just Survive Motherhood: Tips for New Moms
No one ever talks about how difficult motherhood can be in those first few weeks and months. Nobody ever tells you your confidence will get rattled by a seven-pound person. No one ever opens up about how fear, anxiety, concern and worry can overwhelm you. Why would anyone ever tell you that you can feel like a refugee in your own life?
No one actually shares the reality: MOTHERHOOD IS HARD!
Honestly, there’s no plan you can implement before having a child. Why? Because from the moment you were handed your newborn, you too have become someone entirely new. Before motherhood, you learned to work around your imperfections; learned how to decompress when under duress. But becoming a mother can crush your coping mechanisms because now, suddenly, you have a little person relying on you, every second of the day—every day. Toss in unpredictability, fatigue, and hormones, and things can seem very overwhelming, very quickly.
Your world and all you understood may shift on it’s axis. You’re trying to get to know this new you while clinging to your old self. You’re trying to bond and learn how to care for your baby. There will be times when you’ll feel like you’ll barely survive the day. But you will. Some of us adjust to new circumstances faster whereas some of us don’t handle change well at all. These feelings are normal!
So how can you cope with all these new changes?
ADAPT AND ADJUST
It’s easy to get caught in fight or flight mode when things aren’t working the way you had hoped. Accept that you are ONE person and understand things don’t always have to be the way you envisioned. Use your energy for the things you can change, not the things you wish to control. Don’t beat your head against a brick wall; surrender. We all do, and it is okay! Really. There is no ‘right’ way to parent.
ASK FOR ADVICE
In desperate times, seek the opinion of someone you trust—your mother, your sister, your best friend, or your doctor. Adopt it if it works, move on if it doesn’t. Just don’t use their suggestions as confirmation that you’re unfit as a mother because that’s just not true. What works for one baby, might not work for you and your newborn. There is no magic solution, only a lot of trial and error. Each baby is unique.
THIS TOO SHALL PASS
Repeat this mantra, every day if you must. It’s comforting when your baby is screaming from gas pain or suddenly decides that three in the morning is the best time to be awake. Everything will change, and phases will come and go. Just when you think you’ve got it figured out, your baby will throw something else into the mix. Kids do this! And that’s a normal part of parenting. See tip 1.
Even if you think you’re drowning and will never learn to swim, find the good in each day. If all you accomplished was getting out of bed, celebrate that! Your baby will test your patience and challenge every expectation you’ve ever had. Honestly, what child doesn’t? But it’s validating the small victories and knowing it’s the little things that count. Gratitude goes a long way to dealing with the pressure of parenting. Just wait for your baby’s smile!
It takes a village to raise a child. And it takes a village to raise a mother. Find your support networks and lean on them. Whether that’s grandma, friends, or paid help. If you need to take an hour for yourself, DO IT! You’ll make a better mother when you care for your needs too. Hire a postpartum doula, find a mommy group, or join an online support network. Surround yourself with other mothers going through the same situation or those who will give you nonjudgmental support. Find your tribe! There’s one for everyone.
Remember that you will find your way. We all do eventually. This is new and it takes time and patience to create a new normal. Trust your intuition, accept the situations that arise and don’t hesitate to ask for help. The goal isn’t to survive those first weeks of motherhood; it’s to thrive in who you’re becoming for the long haul.
You’ve got this.
Loree Siermachesky is a multi-certified labour and postpartum doula, certified Lamaze childbirth educator, certified breastfeeding counselor, certified placenta encapsulation specialist and a certified car seat technician. She has had the honour of attending over 1400 births in the last 20 years and is one of Alberta's most prominent doulas. She is well-known within the international doula community and greatly respected by the medical providers in Medicine Hat, Lethbridge, Brooks, Taber, and Calgary. She brings to you the value of her experience and the recognition of her community as the 2013 Medicine Hat Chamber of Commerce Small Business of the Year recipient, a 2016 Medicine Hat Women in Business Inspire Award nominee, the 2016 Prodoula Diamond Award recipient, and an impeccable reputation as a birth and postpartum doula in the province of Alberta.