By May Wong

Having a baby is a major event in your life. Your whole world is turned upside down, your priorities change, your habits change, and your perspective changes. It can be an enormous challenge to adjust to these changes all at once.

Physical changes

For the new mum, your body had undergone phenomenal change in the past months, and unlike celebrities we see on TV and in magazines, it can take a while to return to your prepregnancy weight and shape notwithstanding the process of the birth itself. Remember it took nine months to acquire this new shape, so it should take some time to shift from this shape too.

Sleep

Sleep for the baby and parents can become something of an obsession for most new families. The internet and book shelves are filled with information and advice on how to “fix” a baby’s sleep patterns. The truth is, babies have their own ideas about their sleep, especially in the beginning, and most attempts to change their patterns are temporary or ineffective. You could spend weeks stressing about things like getting the baby to sleep at the right time, in the right place, and for the right amount of time. In doing so, you may be losing out on the sleep you need to provide the best care for your baby.

When you don’t sleep well, you can become grumpy, emotional, clumsy, forgetful, and hungry. For new mums, lack of sleep can also affect your milk supply. So instead of trying to squeeze in a little housework when your baby is napping, you could do with a rest too. And instead of trying to get your baby to sleep at certain times in a certain way, you might want to work with your baby’s sleep patterns so you can all get some much needed rest.

Diet and exercise changes

When time is at a premium, you might be tempted to take shortcuts wherever you can, and the easiest shortcut to take is with food. It is so much easier to get fast food or takeaway to fill your stomach, and snack on junk food instead of thinking about cooking. Try to eat smarter, and take good shortcuts instead of resorting to nutrition-poor food. You'll feel better when you eat better, and your baby will be getting better nutrition as well!

Getting some exercise may be the last thing you're thinking about, but it can be a great mood lifter. Just taking your baby for a short walk each day may provide both physical and mental benefits. And your baby might enjoy it too.

Psychological changes

New mums undergo dramatic hormonal changes throughout pregnancy and beyond, and this can play havoc on your emotions. Postnatal depression is gaining recognition as a serious problem that around one in seven women experience. It can greatly interfere with your ability to function and care for your baby. Even if you don't have postnatal depression, there is a good chance you will be overwhelmed and stressed at times. Be sure to ask for help when you need it.

Relationship changes

Your relationship will inevitably undergo big changes as well. There are going to be things you don't agree on, especially when tension is already running high with sleep deprivation. Remember that you're ultimately on the same team! Instead of taking it out on your partner, try to share your frustrations so you can deal with things together. Make use of all the support you have access to, including grandparents, friends, mothers groups, playgroups, babysitters, house cleaners, online forums, and whatever else you find helpful.

Looking after a baby is hard work, so cut yourself some slack. Eat well, sleep when you can, take breaks, and be kind to yourself.

 

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