Becoming a new mom is often one of the most challenging transitions in your life, regardless of whether it’s your first time or not.
From the pain of childbirth to sleep deprivation, to adjusting to breastfeeding (and the potential problems), to creating an entirely new schedule, it can all be quite overwhelming. Becoming a new mom is taxing on even the healthiest women who manage their minds regularly (speaking from personal experience here).
It may or may not get better as time goes on, depending on how you (i.e. your brain) interprets what’s happening in your life.
As new challenges arise, the more equipped you are to support your own mental and emotional health, the better.
This is why it’s so important to learn tools that can help you adjust (and more than survive) so that becoming a new mom doesn’t take a toll on your overall wellness. Parents.com discusses surviving the first year of parenthood you can check out in this article here so you’re more than just surviving.
Below is a list of tips that can help you survive the transition period of being a new mom.
Instead of adjusting to when baby wants to be awake and when he wants to sleep, have the mindset that you’re going to lead the way.
I followed the 12 Hours Sleep By 12 Weeks Old method by Suzy Giordano and Lisa Abidin.
What I love about it, is that it’s empowering and gives you a clear approach, while still offering lots of tools for flexibility to teach self soothing and account for so many potential challenges along the way.
Any mom will tell you nothing about sleep training is 100% perfect and there are lots of variables (like your baby’s health, weight, etc.). Yet, going in blind without a plan at all or any sort of system, can leave you feeling disempowered and trapped by whatever your baby is feeling in the moment.
I’ll never forget when one of my friends said she was out of town with her friend and they both had their newborns with them. My friend was following a sleep training program from Taking Cara Babies (which she swears by) and her friend wasn’t doing anything. My friend said she felt so confident being able to help her baby get to sleep when he was fussy. Her friend struggled tremendously to get her baby to fall asleep, as she wasn’t following any method at all.
Certainly, it’s not a perfect formula. But why not stack the cards in your favor?
If you haven’t considered sleep training, here is a list of a few baby sleep training books and resources to check out to see what works best for you:
Reading a book on sleep training can help you feel confident and prepared, especially when challenges arise. Instead of “oh no, what is happening?!” it’s more like “ohhhh this is happening, just like they said.” It’s still a challenge but it’s less shocking.
Sleep deprivation doesn’t have to be your way of life. There is a better way.
Just like it’s so important that your baby is eating consistently to support his health, it’s important that you are, too.
You need to eat healthy meals that energize you and don’t deplete you.
Something I did ahead of time, was come up with loose plans for food.
For us, this looked like stockpiling on frozen foods we love, having a list of takeout places ready as our “go-tos,” and having both of our moms come down and help for the first couple of weeks (which made grocery shopping and meals so much easier).
Your system and process may look different. But give yourself space to think about it. Ask yourself, “how can I create a system for making sure I’m eating healthy foods regularly?” and see what your brain comes up with as the answer. Your brain will go to work on any question you ask it, so this can be a very powerful tool for surviving the newborn phase.
Include your husband or partner in the process of caring for your newborn. This can be enormously helpful.
At first, he may not know what, if anything, he can do.
Come up with a system for him to help with whatever you want help with most.
If you’re pumping or formula feeding, this may mean rotating who feeds, so you can get several more hours of sleep at once. If you’re breastfeeding without pumping and using bottles, you may want help with something else, like most of the household maintenance (cleaning, laundry, etc.).
Often, husbands don’t know what to do or how to help, so if you can guide him, he’ll have the opportunity to help in the exact way you’re looking for.
Getting around other moms who share the same experience as you can help you feel seen.
Your friends or family may offer to support you, and it may be helpful in its own way, but adding in a support group of moms going through surviving the new mom phase will be a different type of helpful support.
Just make sure to look for groups that are regulated by some sort of moderator. What you don’t want to do is join a forum that isn’t monitored and end up filling your mind with thoughts and drama that make your experience seem worse.
You can look online (like on Facebook or the Peanut App) or in your local community.
The challenges that are associated with being a new mom stem in large part from the mental and emotional stress you experience.
I remember getting food poisoning during my pregnancy and being in such excruciating pain, and then the nurse pointed out to me that the worst part of food poisoning often isn’t the physical pain, but instead is the thoughts about it (the mindset). In that moment, I realized how much worse I was making my own physical pain by adding really negative thoughts to it. Once I was able to clean up my thinking (and redirect it), it was much more tolerable.
The same is true for the new phase of motherhood. There’s the physical discomfort associated with lack of sleep and breastfeeding. Then there are the negative thoughts and how your brain interprets everything. Your thinking will either make this season better or worse.
In the How To Cope With Negative Thoughts As A Mom Class, I show you three steps to overcome negative thinking. CLICK HERE to sign up for the free class.
When family members or friends offer to help, say yes.
It can feel tempting to want to “do it all” but this comes at your own emotional expense.
When you try to do it all, this can leave you feeling even more exhausted and drained than necessary.
If family members want to help, let them. You can decide to what extent you want their help, too.
For example, if your mom offers to help and leaves it open ended, you can accept and suggest she run to the grocery store for you or cook or clean (or something else you need help with).
I’m all for preparing ahead of time, but being flexible in your approach is just as important.
If you’re too attached to one particular plan, you can end up causing yourself so much unnecessary suffering.
Instead, educate yourself and be open to alternative methods (for just about everything) when one way doesn’t work.
While being a new mom can feel impossible in the moment, it’s something you can get through and even get stronger from.
Don’t worry about being perfect or being a good enough mom. You, my friend, are doing your best and that is good enough.