Phew, you made it through - well done! How did you go with the Newborn stage? Aren't their tiny little hands and feet just adorable! How are you feeling? You've had to devote most of your time & energy to the new baby (and we bet it was more of both than you thought!). But hopefully things are settling down now and you can turn more of your attention to yourself and your partner.
After the excitement and chaos of the newborn stage the next few months can be a bit of relief. You have recovered from the birth, your gorgeous baby is getting themselves settled in and now you're probably thinking about getting things back on track. But what you will probably find, like most couples at this stage, is that it's more about working together to create a new track. Normal after baby is different to normal before. There may be lots of things you want to do, but some days you just don't have the time and energy. Sometimes there are also feelings of anti-climax, boredom and frustration. Now is a good time to focus on nurturing yourself and your relationship with your partner and also thinking ahead about what sort of parent you both want to be for your baby.
For many women, becoming a mother creates a new self image. This image can be based on many things and can take some time to emerge. Motherhood can affect all aspects of our lives: our energy levels, our body image, our relationships, our sexuality etc. and it can take some time to adjust to the changes in each of these areas.
Some new mums think that if they manage to look after the baby, keep the house clean and tidy, and prepare a three course dinner every night then that means that they are coping well with becoming a mother. THIS MYTH WAS CREATED BY THE PEOPLE THAT ARE TRYING TO SELL YOU BABY CARE STUFF, CLEANING STUFF AND FOOD STUFF! And whilst these women, their babies and their homes LOOK good, THEY ARE EXHAUSTED! Some mothers can get really manic at this stage. If you find yourself doing the housework at 3 am because you were awake anyway, you might need some help! Conversely, if you find yourself feeling down or depressed for extended periods, or are worried about any other aspects of motherhood, go back to the homepage at any time to choose some extra support.
Your body has been through one of the biggest changes that it is likely to experience in your lifetime and now is a good time to give it some well earned TLC. It's vitally important at this stage that you eat well (especially if you are breast feeding). Your baby is young enough to sleep well in a pram, so if the gym isn't for you, at least take a walk around the neighbourhood as often as you can. This will get you out of the house, back into shape, get those endorphins (good brain chemicals) pumping, and give you the opportunity to meet other pram-pushers in your area. The depression that some women experience after having a baby sometimes happens because they feel frumpy and/or isolated. Getting out and about helps combat both of these. You must also give yourself permission to rest. Take a break whenever you can squeeze it in to sleep or at least put your feet up. This is how you re-charge your batteries so you can be energised when you need to be.
About this time it also dawns on some mothers that their status in society has changed somewhat. You might be at a party and notice that the first question everybody asks is "So what do you do?" In your previous life you might have been able to start a conversation with "I'm a ...(whatever)", but saying "I'm a mother..." to a non-parent either ends the conversation quite abruptly or causes the other person's eyes to glaze over really quickly.
You might also start to feel just a little bit (or a lot) upset when BC (before Child) no business colleague would let you wait for them more than fifteen minutes for a meeting, but the washing machine repairman is happy to let you wait for two hours without any hint of an apology. There is something about waiting in supermarket queues with an over-tired infant that is a very humbling experience. One new mother remarked that even though she was working a 24/7 shift at home, she felt like society was treating her like she was unemployed. This feeling is not uncommon.
Speaking of working, at about this time, you and your partner may have expectations that life will return to normal. "Normal" might mean different things to each of you, however. Your partner might expect you to return to work whereas you had planned to stay home. Conversely, you might be ready to return to work, but your partner expects you to stay home. If your haven't discussed this issue previously, or you had but you find your attitude to returning to work has changed, make sure you talk about this as early as possible so you and your partner can make adjustments accordingly
Be aware too that some mothers who are struggling to find a sense of "normal" in the chaos of looking after a small child can be tempted to return to work earlier than planned, only to regret it later. And at this stage babies routines can change fairly rapidly so it's hard to plan. Some mothers return to work because their babies had settled into a nice routine of sleeping through the night and predictable sleeps through the day (so the babysitter could cope OK), only to find a months later that baby had gotten into a new routine of waking up three times a night, and the last thing they could cope with was working the next day....
Now things are starting to settle down, it is a good time to re-connect with your partner. You may have found yourself a little left out of all the initial bonding, and now is a great time to let your partner know how you would like to be included
Some new mums are so overwhelmed with all the new responsibilities that they have that they are afraid to share some of them with new dads because they are either anxious that things won't be done as well as they think they should, or they are embarrassed to ask for help, or both. Remember, it takes more than one pair of hands to look after a baby, and no-one loves your child more than you and your child's mother, therefore no-one is better qualified to look after them. Also, if you are excluded you may feel resentful, and this could cause problems. So get involved! The more you are involved in your baby's day to day care, the more bonded you will feel with your baby (and also your partner too).
It's also important to remember that you and your partner were a team before you were a family, and take some non-baby time out just for the two of you. In the long term, THE BEST THING YOU CAN DO FOR YOUR BABY IS HAVE A FANTASTIC RELATIONSHIP WITH THEIR OTHER PARENT. A happy, stable family gives your baby a secure base from which to develop - physically, intellectually and emotionally. If you need more relationship support you can find it in the "Couple Support" section.
Nurturing your Infant
They say that an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure. It is now a good time to think ahead to what sort of parent you want to be before the challenges of the toddler stage. Search the net for "parenting styles" and start thinking about what sort of behaviour you want to encourage or discourage in your child. Make sure you involve your partner in this - some of the most heated conflicts between parents can be disagreements regarding what is appropriate behaviour and discipline of children. It is also better for your children if you provide a fair, consistent and united front. In the mean time, enjoy the infant stage and we'll meet up with you again in the next...