Surviving the First Year of Motherhood

 

Ever tried taking a pre-dawn shower on a cold winter day? If you survived the sheer terror of the first few moments, it is reasonable to assume that you went on to complete a refreshing shower that alerted your every sense but left you a little shaken for the experience. Brutal but enjoyable – once you absorbed the initial shock and took the numbing cold in your stride.

The first year and sometimes the first day are usually a precursor to the size and shape of things to come in the future. That probably explains why our first date, our first day at our first job, and of course, our first baby gave us the heebie-jeebies. Fear of the unknown is always overwhelming.

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Motherhood in the first year, with due respect to all mothers out there, is a little like the bathing experience described above – survive the initial experience and you will love the rest immensely. The first year of motherhood is relentless in its demands on the mother. If all new mothers were to be offered a choice between a million tax free dollars and a good night’s sleep, almost all of them would opt for the latter option without a moment’s hesitation. Sleep, or lack of it, is the single most recurring topic of conversation involving a household that has just had a baby.

Parenting in the first year can be difficult, but it need not be as scary a task as people often make it out to be. If you are a new mother weary of the equivalent of first-few moments-under-the-cold shower-in-winter moments of motherhood, here are some tips for you:

  • Number one is, of course, making parenthood a family affair. Get your partner to share the responsibilities. Share and share alike.
  • Find out about your baby’s feeding and sleeping habits. Let her decide on her own schedule. You simply follow suit.
  • No matter what everyone says, you should expose your baby to external environment sparingly. Babies can catch an infection very easily.
  • Listen to good-intentioned advice from everyone and thank them for it.  But understand that every baby is different in her preferences and routine. You know your baby best.
  • Babies can be difficult to manage when they are sick as they know only one way to express their feeling – through crying. In a worst case scenario, babies can cry all night. One way to ensure your baby is healthy is by not missing her vaccination schedule.
  • Winters can be difficult months for a baby, and for you. Make sure the baby stays warm at all times. Buy winter clothing if local conditions demand it.
  • Synchronize your sleeping habits with that of the baby’s. In other words, sleep when she sleeps. It is the best way to catch up on some much needed sleep. You don’t have to worry about waking though! She will make sure the whole household will wake with her.

It will get progressively better from the first year onwards. The baby will begin to understand her surroundings and recognise her parents. She will begin to derive comfort from their presence and physical proximity. She will also begin to sleep better, and at regular hours. That is probably the best indication that you have done a great job with your baby and earned yourself a pat on the back. Or should we say the right to get some shut eye when you are supposed to!