Having a baby is a life-altering experience. And months of planning and a lifetime of dreaming about Baby hardly prepare you for the reality-check of its actual arrival. Up to now, your life may have involved late-night movies and sleeping late on weekends, intimate dining, spontaneous love-making. While there’s no need for these romantic “couples moments” to end, some compromise will inevitably be needed when Baby makes three. Domestically, you can kiss goodbye to an orderly domain. And on the career front, the guilt felt by many “working mothers” may not escape you.
Pregnancy and childbirth specialists offer the following advice for a smoother transition to your new role as a mother:
- Prepare for motherhood during your pregnancy. Read, talk with other new mothers, take parenting courses, and try to get “hands-on” experience with your friends’ babies.
- Before the birth, visualize along with your husband how your lifestyle will change when the baby comes along. Try to work out any pre-existing conflicts in your relationship, since they may be exacerbated by the stresses of parenting.
- After the baby is born, surround yourself as much as possible by supportive and upbeat people. The worst thing for a new mother’s morale is to become isolated.
- Carve out at least a few minutes every day that are all your own.
- Accept help with the baby. Assert your own “mother’s intuition” but realize that grandparents and other mothers have a wealth of experience to offer.
- Lower your expectations: for getting back in shape immediately, for keeping an orderly house, for stepping back on the career track with ease. Avoid the superwoman trap!
- Take advantage of cleaning services, take-out dining, and frozen foods (gourmet if possible—the best you can afford!). Use paper products…anything to make for less cleanup.
- View the beginning of motherhood as a time for personal growth. Keep a journal of your feelings.
It’s common for mothers to experience some degree of depression during the first weeks of the baby’s birth. This is largely due to hormonal changes, and is compounded by the 24-hour responsibilities accompanied by lack of sleep. Rest, a good diet, and a strong emotional support system will help prevent the blues, but occasionally such negative feelings can escalate into post-partum depression.
This serious condition is marked by a lack of bonding with the baby, aggressive feelings, loss of pride in your appearance and home, withdrawal from others, and suicidal thoughts. If you suffer from post-partum depression, please seek immediate attention from your physician! Even the most severe depression can be cured, but the first step is to reveal your feelings and get help.
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