Between late night feedings, a seemingly endless stream of diaper changes, and a mother lode of new products and items to acquaint yourself with, the first year of parenting is a challenge for many new moms. That said, you don't have to struggle so hard to survive year one. Even though those first 12 months will require some adjustment, armed with a bit of strategic organization, effective communication techniques and a plan for relaxation, you can do it.
Sleep When Your Baby Sleeps
Even though your newborn is likely to sleep between 16 and 17 hours per day, the American Academy of Pediatrics notes on its website, HealthyChildren.org, that he'll probably wake up every two to four hours. If it feels like your baby's sleep schedule isn't letting you get any rest, plan to nap when he does. While you won't get a full night's rest — unless you have someone to help you and wake up with your baby — sleeping when he does gives you a chance to catch up on your ZZZ's during the day.
Calming Colic and Crying
Your baby is wailing even though you've changed her diaper, fed her and rocked her. If your infant is a newborn, try wrapping her in a swaddling blanket and holding her close to your chest, suggests the AAP. This can can soothe your baby by making her feel as if she's back in the snug safety of the womb. If your baby suffers from colic, however, other measures may be needed. Sometimes this can be as simple as a pacifier, or laying your baby across your knees on her belly and rubbing her back. A nursing mom may need to change her diet, avoiding possible tummy-ache triggers such as caffeine, onions, cabbage or dairy items. Your doctor might have you switch formulas if your baby is bottle-fed. Since the causes of colic aren't well-understood, your doctor might direct you to try a number of strategies to soothe your baby. If your baby is inconsolable and you can't identify a reason, always call your doctor for guidance.
Whether your baby is a newborn or nearing the 1-year mark, the stress and strain of being a new mommy can make you feel frayed. Keep in mind that all new parents get stressed and lose their patience. If you're feeling overwhelmed, ask for help from a spouse or partner, a family member or a close friend who can give you a brief baby break. If you're alone with baby and need a time-out to de-stress, set your baby down in a safe place — such as his crib — and take a few minutes to breathe.
If you find yourself crying for no apparent reason, are anxious or feel depressed, you may have the baby blues. Roughly 80 percent of new moms experience the baby blues, according to the BC Reproductive Mental Health program. This temporary condition typically resolves in one to two weeks. If these feelings become intense, don't go away or prevent you from living daily life, you may have postpartum depression. This requires professional help, as well as adopting a nutritious meal plan, exercising daily and getting support from family, friends or other mothers who have gone through similar situations. Because depression can escalate to debilitating levels, it is essential to consult your doctor for treatment and support.
The transition from romantic partners to new parents can cause friction in your relationship. While you both have a new obsession — Baby — the success of your new family dynamic relies upon your success as a couple. Hire a sitter and set up regular date nights with your spouse. Get dressed up, put on makeup and go to a restaurant that isn't stocked with high chairs. Small frustrations can build up during this first year, but careful communication can help cut tension with your partner. For instance, if you're annoyed because he plays golf each Tuesday, hits the gym on weekends, and meets his friends at the sports bar for Monday night football, tactfully tell him, "I need you here to help carry the load. We need to be in this together." Striking a compromise that permits you both to pursue interests while sharing baby duties will go a long way to reduce resentment.