Surviving the first six weeks

The first few weeks with a new baby can be overwhelming. You may feel like you’re in survival mode, just coping with the relentless cycle of feeding, changing and tending to your baby’s many needs. There’s no routine, everything’s unpredictable and your hormones are raging. It can be all-consuming – and very, very exhausting.

Top 10 Tips

1. Remember there is no one right way to parent. All parents work it out as they go. It takes time to get to know your baby, so allow yourself the time to adjust and get to know each other and adjust to your new normal.

2. Expect less of yourself and your partner. Good enough is ok. Only do the essential housework and forget the rest.

3. Don’t expect there to be any routine. This requires a certain amount of letting go (especially challenging if you are used to being in control).

4. Simplify your life as much as possible. Don’t try to do too much, or go on many outings. In some cultures, mother and baby are looked after and ‘cocooned’ for the first six weeks. (Bliss!)

5. Sleep when your baby sleeps, get to bed early and nap when you can. Switch your phone to silent or turn it off. People will leave a message.

6. Ask for and accept help. We’re not meant to look after babies on our own. It really does take a village.

7. Drink plenty of water, especially if you are breastfeeding. Keep a drink bottle with you and remember to have a big drink every time you feed.

8. Eat well. Plan simple meals or accept offers of cooked meals. Have plenty of snacks you can eat with one hand. Ask your partner to make you lunch before they leave the house. Ask others to bring a meal instead of gifts.

9. Try and get outside for a walk each day.

10. Limit visitors. Don’t be afraid to ask people to come back another day.

Baby Blues

Be prepared for the commonly known ‘baby blues’, which usually occur 3-5 days after giving birth. Your body is dealing with changes to your hormone levels, so you can often be very tearful and feel you are unable to cope. Sleep deprivation is hard to adjust to and can often feed into this anxious feeling of not coping and generally not feeling yourself. These feelings usually only last a few days, but if they persist this could be a sign of postnatal depression. It’s important to talk and share with your loved ones, plunket nurse or Well Child Tamariki Ora nurse. There are also many support lines you can contact 24/7.

Helpful links for further information around postnatal distress:

Healthline or midwife both have great write ups around baby blues and postnatal depression.

Pada have a great library of videos and lots of information around postnatal distress.

See our story on postnatal distress here.

Extra support and links

The Ministry of health have a wonderful resource with further advice and guidance. click here shares a great postpartum six week survival guide.

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