When I got pregnant, the first three months were hard. After that, it was pretty much smooth, other than for the aches and pains that come with a growing belly. Touchwood, the labor was also bearable. I had a NVD and my baby was out within 6 hours. I was completely fine right from day one of the delivery. I had seen a few friends after their delivery, and they would look tired or worn out. I was glad that I wasn’t one of them. Little did I know of what was to come.
If somebody would ask me which is the most difficult period, during this entire journey of having a child, I would say it is the first few weeks after the baby is born. I was in the hospital for 4 days after my delivery and everything seemed fine. The moment I reached home from the hospital, the pressure started to build. Everyone seemed to have their own opinion about what was best for the baby, when the baby has to be fed, what needs to be done for the baby etc. Oh, and it was not just for the baby! I was asked to sit in a certain way, sleep in a certain way, eat only a certain kind of food, tie a cloth/belt around my tummy, all this with an aching body and a newborn, of whose needs, I had no clue about.
I remember feeling so lost at that time! I would look at my social media feed and yearn for those carefree, happy days that I felt everyone except me was having. Every day seemed like every other day, doing the same thing – feed the baby, eat, sleep for a few hours(i.e. when the baby slept, but how was sleep most elusive at such times?!) and so it continued, on and on. Add to that, the lack of sleep at night, 2-3 hour feeds through the day and all kinds of restrictions possible – no going out, no socializing, no phones/books/tv nothing!
( P.S: I know this may seem a bit extreme to some of you, but a 40-day confinement practice is something that is followed in many houses in India after a woman gives birth. This period is believed to help the woman recover after childbirth.)
I started feeling like I was being punished for something. I’m a person who loves her freedom and this situation was simply suffocating. I used to cry at the drop of a hat! I would get angry and snap at everyone around me. I had negative feelings about myself and the baby. I would google things like when would the baby start sleeping at a stretch, when would her feeds reduce in frequency and more such stuff. And the guilt at screaming at the people around me didn’t help either! I knew they were doing what they were doing, with the best of intentions, but the entire experience was hellish! And to top it all, I was scared of complaining about these things because I thought people would perceive me to be a bad mom.
People would ask me how it felt like to be a new mom, and frankly, I did not know! The only thought that would cross my mind would be – ”Why didn’t ANYONE tell me how hard it really was!!”. I started realizing that probably many of the mommy friends whom I was talking about in para one, were the way they were, because of these sudden changes that came about after becoming a mother! Frankly, no amount of reading, no amount of preparation can ever really ready any first-time mom for this period!
The reason I’m speaking about all of this is to tell other new moms out there that it’s completely normal to feel this way! I wish someone had told me this, then! It would have saved me a lot of guilt and worry!
I think at some level, every new mom goes through Postpartum depression, in some form or the other. What’s most important though, is to tell yourself again and again, that this is just a phase and that before long, we’ll love the role of being a mommy to the little one (Just wait till the baby starts reciprocating to your calls and cues, you’ll simply love it!).
Till then, give yourself and the little one time to adjust to each other and the new environment. And don’t ever let anyone make you feel like you’re not a good enough mom. Every mother does the best she can for her child.
Here are some things that I resorted to doing to make my situation better. Hope this helps!
- I needed someone to whom I could express my feelings to. My hubby was my biggest support. He would simply listen and comfort me when I cried and complained. Over time, things started to fall into place, slowly. By the end of month one, the situation was much better. You can take the help of a sibling or spouse or a friend even, to confide your feelings and fears. Even if they’re not able to help, you’ll at least have someone to talk and vent out your emotions to!
- Rope in your partner into making decisions about/for your child and as long as you both are in sync, nothing else matters. People were against me, using diapers on my child but I realized that she gets up frequently whenever she wets herself(especially at night). I discussed with my husband and we started using diapers on her, and this really helped her sleep better, giving me the much-needed break in those initial days.
- Also, taking some time off every day to give yourself some “me” time is the best. I used to love my massage cum bath-time. That was the only time when the crying baby was not handed over to me for a feed! Phew!
- Expressing and storing milk in bottles is something I decided I wanted to start off early on. I was planning to exclusively breastfeed my baby for the first 6 months, which meant I wouldn’t be able to step out of home for more than 2-3 hours at a stretch. Expressing gave me some time off every once in a while, to run errands or go out and socialize.
- Carrying a baby, feeding it etc can cause aches and pains in the body. Getting a massage would go a long way in relaxing those strained muscles. We had a maalishwali(massage person) come over for me and the baby, so I did not really go out exclusively to get massages done, but if that’s not the case with you, massages are truly a blessing!
- Baby carriers are another discovery that I’m thankful for. This not only helps you get work done while carrying a baby, it also helps you both bond better. The baby can be with you the entire time, observing you, learning from you and being close to your heart. What better way to calm a cranky baby plus get work done at the same time! There are many ergonomic carriers available in the market today, which can be used right from the newborn stage itself!
- Lastly, Exercise. I’m a work in progress when it comes to exercising since I started only a while back (1.5 months post delivery). But, not only does it make me feel refreshed and renewed, it also helps me feel better about myself, knowing that I’m beginning my baby steps in shedding that pregnancy weight. It’s always best to check with your OB-GYN before starting off though.
What are the things you did to help you settle into the new-mommy role better? Do let me know your opinions and comments!