Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Surviving The First Six Weeks

When your baby is born, you will find yourself overcome with emotions - some good, some bad. Some bad? How will I be upset with a new baby, you may ask yourself.

For mom, the body loses a significant portion of estrogen during the days after the birth. Your body no longer has to sustain a placenta and growing little one, and this drop in hormones, which occurs three to five days after the baby's birth, makes you tired and weepy.

A baby is a stressor, too. While you certainly will adore your new little bundle, she will be a handful. Unable to tell you what is wrong and probably a little scared by what is happening to her, too, baby will cry a considerable amount. Know that the crying is normal and that for the most part, it will pass. Still, even as you are telling yourself that, you will find that you can become frustrated by the constant crying and feeding your baby needs.

Here are some ways you can cope with the little one so that all of you feel better during those first, rough weeks. First, remind yourself constantly that it will pass. When he is screaming at the top of his little, not completely developed lungs, tell yourself that this part of motherhood will not last. It can be a great calming force to think about how quickly he will grow up.

Next, be organized. You will feel better if you know where everything is. Make sure that you have feeding supplies on hand and in convenient spots. If you are using a pacifier, put them in all the places baby sleeps. Put diapers and other changing supplies in several places throughout the house in baskets so that you avoid unnecessary trips.

Turn off the phone and don't feel guilty about it. You do not want your baby to wake at every little noise, but you want to get some sleep, too. Do not feel bad about leaving the phone turned off. You can put a message on the voicemail with updates about everyone but do not feel obligated to chat with anyone or to accept visitors. Others should be considerate of your time bonding with your new baby, and you shouldn't hesitate to remind them ever so gently about the importance of that time to you.

Know that you will be hungry. You likely will not feel like cooking, though. Make food ahead of time that you can freeze, such as casseroles. You also can stock up on foods to put in a slow cooker. Gather up take-out menus from your favorite local restaurants so that you can order Chinese if need be. Also pick up snacks you can have quick bites to each. Try yogurt drinks, granola bars, string cheese, and other similar snack items.

Ask for help if you need it and ask to be alone if you need it. Some women feel obligated to entertain family and friends. Both you and baby need your rest, though, so take this time to learn to be strong and fight against what everyone else thinks is best for you. Do what is best for yourself and your new little one.

by Julia Mercer

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