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How to keep a lid on your life following your first born

CONTROLLED EMOTION: Getting used to your baby can be difficult at first.

ADAPTING TO life as a mother is a major adjustment, a huge life change. Life will never be the same. Everything requires meticulous planning and co-ordination. No longer can you come and go as you please. Gone are the days, that you can you travel lightly. Instead you are now equipped with everything but your kitchen sink in your ‘baby bag’.

The constant feeling of being so tired you could sleep standing up in the supermarket queue, feeling like a bus hit you head on. Crying uncontrollably because of something on TV. Feeling like a hamster going round and round like groundhog day with the never ending feeding and changing.

Keeping on top of the overflowing laundry basket, baby vests stained the colour of mustard. Looking dishevelled and barely having the energy to get out of your pyjamas. Date night? What’s that? So, if you are a new mother, a new father, or someone close to you has just had a baby, please pass on my invaluable advice.

It is said that it takes 30 days to form a habit, so with this in mind it takes a little time to find your feet in your newly acquired role as a parent. Yet, once you and your new addition familiarise yourselves with each other and get into a rhythm, it starts to become easier (for me this was when baby was about 12 weeks).

Take each day as it comes and try not to put too much pressure on yourself to do things. A piece of advice that was offered to me when I became a mother was to sleep when the baby is sleeping. This was the best advice ever. It is a time in your adult life when you can actually justify having a nap during the day!

The ‘baby blues’ are a postnatal feeling that many mothers suffer from, it usually happens a few days or even weeks after the baby is born. It is similar to the way that you can feel leading up to your period.

If this is particularly prolonged, or you are finding it difficult to shake, talk to loved ones about how you are feeling, speak to other women who have children. If your low mood persists, I urge you to seek help. There is nothing wrong with asking for help. Do not suffer in silence as this is detrimental to you and the baby.

If you have a good support network, ask someone to prepare meals for you or bring you your favourite snacks, because you may find it difficult to factor in eating regular meals with your new demands.

Try and drink plenty of water, particularly if you are breastfeeding. You will be exhausted and lacking energy and a good diet will assist in increasing your energy levels.

Inevitably, you may find it difficult to make time for yourself now that your priorities have shifted focus. I recommend making a conscious effort to make a little time for yourself in order to breathe and have some clear space to think.

Try and have a relaxing bath once your partner is home. Play some relaxing music while the baby is sleeping. Get a trusted family member or friend to look after the baby, and get your hair or nails done. This is a quick little pick-me up and can make you feel like you again and lift your mood.

In terms of your relationship, having a baby can make or break it. Having a baby puts a huge strain on a relationship. Even though the last thing on your mind is to have ‘quality time with your partner’, try not to leave them out. Include them as much as possible and encourage them to be hands on with baby from the beginning.

Men can alleviate pressure from their partners by being supportive physically and emotionally. Taking the baby for a walk while mum has a soak in the bath.

It is important to understand that in order to give birth a woman’s body goes through trauma so it needs time to heal and recuperate, here’s a few other ways to make life easier:

1) Get out of the house as often as possible with the new arrival. Go for a walk and get some fresh air.

2) Attend a baby group or join a mum’s group: there are some great ones online, Facebook or Instagram, for example: Mush Mums. It is a great opportunity to discuss things with other mums who may be going through the same journey or obstacles.

3) Communicate with your partner or close friends, tell them how you are feeling. Ask for help if you are finding the transition difficult.

4) Don’t feel pressured to be like anyone else. Your experience of motherhood is unique. Take your time and do what you feel is right and in the best interests of the baby. Next time we look at how to get back to feeling like yourself: post-baby, plus we explore the various different childcare options and the ever-daunting, return to work.

Jernine Russell has a book signing of her book ‘The Naked Truth About Having A Baby’ and Q&A tonight (November 30) from 6.30- 8.30pm at New Beacon Books, 76 Stroud Green Road, Finsbury Park N4 3EN

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