I hadn’t been around babies much before my first son was born. I had never even changed a diaper.
I didn’t have a clue what I was doing and I was completely, utterly overwhelmed and exhausted.
I spent the time when my baby was napping searching for information in baby books and online like how to breastfeed without my nipples feeling like they would fall off and how to get more sleep (ironic when I Could Have Been Sleeping!)
Many of my new mama clients also go through a really hard transition during the newborn stage. You have this cute, tiny, squirming little creature in your arms. Your baby is oh-so-precious, but you are completely a mess, struggling to get through the day (and night!).
You’re totally overwhelmed with all there is to do and learn as a new mom. And you have to figure it all out on no sleep.
In the midst of all the overwhelm and exhaustion, if you focus on the following three things, everything else is likely to fall into place soooo much easier.
It’s the bane of every new mama. Squeeze it in whenever you can. Enough said. And if you find you’re just not doing that, see my recent blog post about New Mama Exhaustion to figure out why and find a way through to more shut-eye.
2. Connect with other new moms.
Oh so important. Get out for walks to the park, playgroups, anywhere where other mamas can be found. And make conversation. Most new moms LOVE to share about how their baby is sleeping, how they’re growing so quickly, etc.
If you find someone you seem to click with, get past the surface conversation and share more about yourself. How you’re really feeling. How you barely have time to talk to your husband right now. How your mom just doesn’t get your parenting style.
Sharing authentically builds connection and helps you feel less alone. And if that goes well, make sure to exchange contact info to meet up with your kindred mama spirit again.
3. Ask for help.
You can’t do it alone. No mama is an island. You know this, right? So why is it so hard to do?
Our culture values independence. The thing is, independence isn’t an emotionally healthy state. It can lead to anxiety and depression which are becoming more and more of an issue for new moms today.
So what helps us avoid that? Interdependence. This is where we are dependent (emotionally and in practical ways) on many people and they are dependent on us. It’s kinda like being in a community. But a Really Strong Community of mutually dependent people.
This may rub you the wrong way if you’ve grown up in an independence-loving culture in the western world. But try it out, and see how it feels.
It’s ever so important as a new mom because soooo many new moms burn themselves out and become depressed trying to do it all alone.
As a new mama, what are some ways you can ask for help and start to build interdependence?
-Ask a friend or neighbour to pick up a few groceries for you while they do their own shopping.
-Get your mom, dad or a trusted friend to come over and watch your baby while you take a nap.
-Hire help to clean your house, or if that isn’t possible, ask a close friend or family member if they wouldn’t mind helping out with simple chores like dishes or vacuuming.
-Instead of presents for your baby (cuz do you really need all those onesies?), ask friends and family to bring your family a hot meal instead so you don’t have to cook.
When you have a newborn it’s totally ok to RECEIVE the help of others. And when you have a bit more time and energy later on, look for opportunities to give back and notice how great it feels to help others, too.
If you’re still really struggling, I’ve got lots of experience helping new mamas just like you navigate the ups and downs of new motherhood. You can find out more about Blossoming Mother Counselling’s services here and you can contact me directly here.
Katherine Aucoin, Motherhood Counsellor
Hi Mamas! My name is Katherine and I'm a motherhood counsellor and a mom to two little boys. I'm here to offer tools, insights and support to help you be the best mom you can be for your children AND yourself.