There is nothing like the newborn stage. Everything is new (yes, even for the non-first time mom!), your family seems to be perpetually in the adjustment stage, and your newborn baby is always, always needy.
But if you think about it, a newborn baby is supposed to be needy. Your baby has spent the first 40 weeks of their life inside their mother’s womb. Being born into this world is not just new – it is terrifying. They need you because yours is the only voice they are familiar with, and yours is the only presence they find comfort in.
Then again, even if you do know this, it does not change the fact that the newborn stage is undeniably hard. This period in your life will take everything you can give, and somehow it will keep on taking more.
Now, nothing is sweeter than a newborn baby. You will love like you never did before, and the lovely moments will take your breath away. A primal need to care for your baby will overcome you, and you will make like a mother cub: fierce and protective. The maternal instincts will take over you, even when you thought you didn’t have any.
Yet you will never be ready for the worst moments. No class can ever prepare you for the sleepless nights. No book or routine will stop your baby from crying while you helplessly guess why. Just when you thought you have figured things out, a new challenge looks you in your self-assured face.
The newborn stage will help you see the skills that you previously thought you did not have. But the newborn stage will also make you question whether these abilities – or you – are good enough. If there is one thing you can be certain about this stage, it’s that it is unpredictable. All you can do is take it day by day.
But what else can you do? Here are 6 things to help you cope with the challenges of the newborn stage.
6 Ways to Cope with the Challenges of the Newborn Stage
1. Establish clear routines.
Despite the unpredictability of the newborn stage, your newborn baby actually thrives on predictability. Establishing a clear routine will help them gain an understanding of what is actually happening around them. Knowing what happens next soothes your baby’s anxiety and helps them adjust to this new life.
For example, having a bedtime routine is essential in helping your newborn baby understand that it is time to sleep. It may not come to them immediately, but eventually they will understand what your routines mean.
2. Create a safe and soothing environment.
As aforementioned, being born into a completely new world is a scary experience. You can minimize your baby’s fear by making sure they feel safe and secure at home. Surround them with soothing things and veer away from things that are loud, jarring, or overstimulating.
To do this, it is vital to create a safe environment where your baby feels calm and secure. For example, you may want to put in your baby’s nursery a secure crib and ultra-soft baby blankets. You may also want to add a musical mobile that plays a sweet lullaby to soothe your baby.
3. Keep your newborn baby swaddled and held.
If your baby is fussy, you may want to try swaddling them with a soft cotton swaddle blanket. Swaddling means keeping your baby wrapped in a cloth. This position is supposed to mimic the feeling of being inside the womb, making them feel secure and warm.
At the same time, keep touching your baby. Even though swaddling mimics your touch, there is nothing like the real thing. Make your presence felt by holding your baby close and initiating skin-to-skin contact. Contrary to what others may say, holding your baby will not spoil them; instead, it will build their confidence.
4. Get yourself a support system.
Parenting is hard, and parenting during the newborn stage may be a hundred times harder. Even if you think you can do it yourself, it is always better to be surrounded by people who guide and encourage you.
With a support system (check out Moms for Moms group here), you will be able to ask for help and seek for guidance or advice. Even if it is as simple as sharing similar experiences with fellow moms, having a support system will definitely make the burden of parenting a newborn baby lighter.
5. Rest and don’t forget your “me time.”
Don’t forget about yourself, mommy! It may seem like being a parent to a newborn baby eats up all of your time, but if you can, try to look for pockets of time within the day to treat yourself.
You don’t have to get out of the house or spend money for your “me time.” Even something as simple as watching television or talking to a friend or even napping does wonders for your mental well-being.
6. Admit that you need help.
Are you pressured to raise the perfect baby and keep a spotless home? The truth is no one expects you to be perfect. No one expects you to keep a spotless home when you’re busy looking after a new human being.
The newborn stage will take all of you, so it’s okay to admit that you need help. Asking for help from your husband, your family, or your friends does not mean that you are not equipped for parenthood. On the contrary, it means that you know how to prioritize, knowing that your and your baby’s well-being is more important than keeping the floors clean.
If you feel like giving up, just know that you are not alone. Don’t feel guilty if you think you are not enjoying the newborn stage of your baby. This is completely normal, and it does not mean you don’t like your baby – it just means that you don’t like this stage.
The good news is that the newborn stage does not last forever. Take everything in, the good and the bad, because it will be over before you know it.