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Being mum and not getting crazy

Each change is a challenge, and arrival of a new and very demanding member of the family is a 180 degrees change. Yes, it is harder than you expected. Yes, it does not look as it did in your dreams. Yes, it is easy to lose the joy of motherhood in a windwhirl of daily activities. But STOP - do not allow that to drive you crazy! A good mum is a smiling one, not necessarily that perfect one!
Eliza Komar, psychologist | 23 March 2014

The baby well looked after and smiling, you, already slim after childbirth with full make-up on and perfectly set hair, welcome your husband returning from work with a smile, and a delicious two-course dinner already waits on the table. Where does this come from? Are this media, information from our mums and Grandmas, or our own convictions we forced upon ourselves?

The reality often looks completely different. The baby keeps on crying and you do not know what he wants (and the fact that you read everywhere that you would know that is not helpful), changing, cuddling, changing, nap, a few hours flew by (you do not know when), with your hair in a mess you welcome your husband coming from work, you rush around madly - it is time for colic, you have your dinner (being at the same time your breakfast) prepared by your husband, bath, lulling, crying. And the next day looks similarly. You are worn out, and want to cry... But no! Perfect mums do not do that.

Right to emotions

Sometimes this female "I will manage" becomes a course to young mums. No, it does not mean that you will not manage, but you should manage while experiencing the whole range of feelings, crying, smiling, triumph, or anger, and not with your teeth clenched and extreme loneliness.

Motherhood brings in various emotions - besides happiness, thrill or hope, there are also those mentioned less often: anger, hopelessness, sadness, loneliness, regret. It is important to accept them and allow yourself to experience them.

Good enough

This is a key word - a password to happy motherhood. Good enough - and not ideal or perfect. Good enough, because you love, show your love, give to your baby all what is the best including yourself, in peace with yourself, i.e., with your needs, roles (mum, wife, lover, friend, worker, and other), and your feelings.

It is not easy, often you need to learn how to be assertive, show some egoism, but now it is a perfect time to take care of that. And as you do it not only for yourself, but also for your baby, with this additional motivation you should succeed!

Do it your way

As a young mum you are bombarded from all directions with good advice, nuggets of wisdom, the only right solutions. It can be helpful, but also is very cumbersome, particularly when their authors expect you to follow them. Stick to your wisdom and intuition, your allies are knowledge based on the current research and experts; do not hesitate to ask doctors, search for expert advice. And do not be afraid to say to authors of good advice "thank you, I'm of different opinion, I am the mother, this is my child".

Daily decisions and choices are a great responsibility that can be difficult to shoulder in the yet uncharted territory of motherhood. OK, trust your mum, mother-in-law, friend, but let this be your conscious choice, and when you regain your strength and belief in yourself, take the lead again unscrupulously.  Thank your mum, mother-in-law and friend, and delicately, yet surely set up new rules.

Help and support

Learn to use help from others and when necessary, ask for it. Often, in first weeks of baby's life there are many helpers around, but after a few weeks, when apparently everything is back to normal, you are left alone. Do not wait for anybody to notice how hard it is for you, but set the rules yourself. Involve your partner, let him take care of the baby as much as possible; after all, daddies are as good as mums when it comes to bathing, changing or playing with a baby. Think what kind of help will be the best support for you, and tell your family about it. For example, maybe it will be possible to arrange for one day when grandparents will stay with the baby, maybe instead of yet another cake from your mother-in-law you would prefer a dinner.

And there is one more thing - let others help you, and when necessary, do not interfere. Baby's dad, Grandmas, or Granddads will probably do some things differently, you would probably do it better, but never mind. Remember, the baby is safe, looked after by people who love him and nothing will happen, if he eats his dinner without a bib, eats smaller helpings or will spend a few hours in a diaper with incorrectly arranged cuffs. Moreover, this variability of touch, smells, and experience will be enriching for the baby.

Do not compare

Comparisons are another thing that may drive a young mum crazy, or at least cause headaches. Completely unnecessarily. Each baby develops according to his own genetic plan, and the fact that little Johnny of the same age can already walk, is unimportant. When something worries you, talk to a doctor.

Similarly, when it comes to your relationship or relations in further family. The fact that others do things differently, other dads..., other grandmas..., other granddads..., all this does not matter. Your relationship is your relationship, and it is you who set the rules, similarly as in further family; after all you can discuss and arrange everything, and if anything is wrong, change it.

Life is life

Nowadays hardly any mum has an option to arrange her life around the event which is often the greatest one in it - arrival of her baby. Practically each of us must face daily challenges, look after the house, go shopping, arrange various matters, look after the older child. The baby participates in that, and actually nothing bad will happen, if a daily routine is broken and you take him shopping, to a stuffy office, or to a cafe to a meeting with your friend.

Often, mums have to go back to work, e.g., for financial reasons. Well, that's life. Find the best possible solution - Grandma, nursery, or a nanny? Be sure that the baby is well cared for, and when you get back from work it will be a double joy (yours and baby's) with which you will play, have fun and cuddle. Do not reproach yourself.

Also do not worry when the routine is changed and the baby, despite nice weather, does not go out for a walk because you feel unwell, or you limit activities and playing  with him because you have a terrible headache. It happens - mum is also just a human being.

Look after yourself

Perform this small experiment - if you were your own child, would you rather had a perfectly clean house without heaps of ironing to do and plates to wash, or a mum that is happy, satisfied and playing with you?

The answer is clear! But to be smiling and satisfied, you must look after yourself, at least a little.

  • do not wait until the others "notice" and "understand", if you want or need anything - just say it;

  • do not bend to expectations of the others, you cannot satisfy everybody, and what is more, you have a right not even to attempt it;

  • use the time of baby's sleep for your own naps during the day or during that time do something for yourself, and let it be something other than washing up or ironing;

  • assign daily duties; baby's father also has two dexterous hands, and you are not "sitting" at home, while being at home you perform many different functions;

  • when daddy, Grandmas, Granddads look after the baby do not hesitate to use that time just for yourself - recharging your batteries is not a waste of time but a necessity;

  • do not forget that you are also a wife, a lover, a friend - juggling all these roles is not easy but they bring in fulfilment, satisfaction with life, and energy, and positively influence other roles and duties; 

  • although the baby is the most important, you should remember that on the planet "Family" there is also his dad - do not neglect him; a happy family is the one where each member feels well, and the baby will be the happiest when being a part of a happy family;

  • when you work at home - arrange for somebody to look after the baby for at least several hours a week, working when the baby sleeps and at night at the end will overcome even the strongest ones;

  • you used to read a lot, and now you miss it - start listening to audiobooks, you can do it on a walk or during household chores such as cooking or ironing;

  • you miss TV, films, TV series - organize one evening a week to relax in this way, other extremely important things can wait - just try and you will see :)


Beware of baby blues
 

Postnatal blues affects about 50–70% of women. This is a physiological condition. The body, still tired from pregnancy and birth, immediately after baby's arrival produces increased amounts of adrenaline to enable the woman to cope with the challenge. However, after a few days the adrenaline level drops. Similarly, the corticotropin (hormone produced in increased quantities in the last weeks of pregnancy and during labour, preparing the body for stress and in reaction to it) level drastically drops. The hormonal balance is completely upset after pregnancy and childbirth. This condition is often combined with breast fullness.

Baby blues - an emotional crisis occurring a few days after childbirth - can be very difficult. Apart from feeling weary and upset, it is combined with unhappy and often frightening to a young mum feelings of helplessness, impotence, insecurity, loneliness, lack of competence and related sense of guilt. Mood swings appear, accompanied by crying, sadness, testiness, nervousness and regret.

What can you do about it? You need the support of somebody close to you, with whom you can share your thoughts and feelings, who will help you with your daily tasks; also allowing yourself to cry, and time will help. Hormonal revolution in your body will pass and it will be easier to look with optimism at this new situation.

However, when the sense of depression persists, deepens or worries you a lot, do not wait and consult a psychologist. These first few weeks of your baby's life will never return, so it is a pity to waste that time on a breakdown...

 

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3 JANUARY 2017
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