Archive for April, 2010

Coping with a newborn baby

April 11, 2010

Eight Psychological Tips for Coping with a Newborn Baby

You’ve had so much advice, it’s left you reeling in confusion.  Every-one else seems to know exactly what you should do, but this doesn’t really help you to feel in control of the tiredness and emotional changes taking place.  Here are some psychological tips to help you through those turbulent early days.

  1. Never say “I have done nothing today”. You’ve been there for your baby.  You’ve been instantly interruptible (probably a new skill for you), and instantly available for soothing, comfort and nutrition.  Research shows that soothing and comfort are as powerful for baby’s well being as food.
  2. Never strive to be perfect, always good enough. On a bad day, say to yourself  “I was good enough, and that is good enough”.
  3. On a good day, capture the moment and bank it in your memory.  Remember how special you are, to be a mum. 
  4. Gather friends around you – especially ones with little babies too.  Any-one else will have forgotten what it’s really like, and it’s the biggest protector against postnatal depression.
  5. Never chastise yourself for needing sleep, rest, a break, a night out, a rant, or whatever you need. Find a way to get it, because it will strengthen you and help you be a good enough mum.
  6. Being “mindful” is a psychological term which is used to deal with frustration and low mood.  It means focusing on what this feels like, now, and moving away from thoughts of later, or tomorrow such as things that need doing.  So while you are cuddling your baby, focus on the cuddle, the feel of it, the warmth, the movement as your baby breathes etc.  Push away any thoughts of what needs doing and when.  Just “be” with the here and now.  Practice this for ten minutes each day and you will realize how powerful it is.
  7. Prolactin (the mothering hormone) makes you a little more anxious, a little more irritable, and more submissive and loving.  So never try to be all giving and all loving – there will have to be some irritability and anxiety thrown in. We’re back to never trying to be perfect!
  8. The effects of prolactin, coupled with a striving for perfection may mean that you find it hard to let your partner do his bit with baby.  However, if you want him to help you when the baby is older and if you want him to understand why you feel so drained and why the house is in a mess, then start to give him time alone with baby now.  How else will he become confident and competent with his baby?
  9. If you begin to feel that you aren’t coping and that you are not okay within yourself, or if others start to tell you so, don’t hesitate to see you GP or Health Visitor, or find a counsellor.  Post natal depression passes much quicker with help and support, and no one deserves to feel awful, so why not go and get the support to help yourself through it sooner rather than later.

Good luck – and enjoy the journey.

Treat your baby’s birth like your wedding.

April 9, 2010

I was at a wedding recently.  I love weddings.  I love the happiness of the couple, the excitement as we contemplate their future, the love and affection from friends and family.  As I sat at the table, watching people dance, my friend commented on how much money must have been spent, and how crazy it is that we blow so much on our wedding day.  And I began to wonder how lovely it would be if we could approach our birthing day in the same way as our wedding. 

There would be lots of time spent planning our birthing day.  We would research what is available out there for us in terms of preparation – the best antenatal classes, antenatal yoga, aqua-natal classes, chiro-practice, homeopathy, hypnosis, and more.  We would indulge ourselves in preparing our body and baby with reflexology, massage, health spas, indian head massage, reiki, etc.  As well as services and pampering, we, of course, need to buy things for the special day!  There’s the “must haves” such as birth ball, birth pool, relaxation cds, aromatherapy oils, massage lotions, candles, cute baby clothes, digital camera, music which makes you weep and a birth doula.  Why not extend that – to a fabulous new bed, beautiful “birthing outfit”, lovely new knickers (what are those ugly disposal things all about?), dressing gown, slippers.  We could have our hair and nails done for the special day, darling!  Then of course, there’s the food.  Well, if ever you needed an excuse to buy lobster, strawberries, chocolates, champagne, from Marks and Spencer’s, surely, this is it!  And of course – a very special cake.  The most special birthday cake you will ever buy. 

Finally, there’s the baby-moon.  This is the best bit.  We would plan how we would spend that precious two weeks following the birth while our beautiful baby adjusts to their new world. Those adorable announcement cards would have been carefully selected in anticipation (with a note of when visitors are welcome – and when they aren’t!).  We need lots of herbal remedies for healing, calm and energy, including a great hypnosis cd for calm parenting. 

And we need to really enjoy this special baby bonding time, so we need to think carefully about managing our time.  How often will the cleaner come in?  Which postnatal doula are we going to select – have we got the best lactation consultant?

As always, food ranks highly in our celebrations.  Would Ocado or Sainsbury’s deliver our deluxe food order? Does our favourite restaurant deliver? Would we really allow ourselves truffles and caviar every day?  In terms of entertainment, which cds would we get in? Have we got a phone that we can access from the bed?  Wow – the only time when we can really stay in bed for two weeks with justification

 Lots and lots of planning, excitement, love, and affection.  Just like a wedding!  Even if you add up the costs of everything I have listed, we still don’t come close to the cost of a wedding (for the pedantic among us, please note that I’m not including the cost of baby equipment, because that isn’t a one off spend.  It gets used for months or years).  And of course, just like a wedding, we can enjoy the preparation, but we can never control the outcome.  We can never be 100% sure that bride or groom won’t bolt, or that the car doesn’t have an accident on the way to the church.  We can’t know that the lovely dress won’t get stained or torn during the celebrations.  We can’t know that we will enjoy being the centre of attention.  And with the weather as unpredictable as it is – well, it might storm like crazy.  The caterers might turn out to be awful!  But that doesn’t stop us preparing and planning with excitement and the presumption that it will be a wonderful day!  Here’s to doing the same with your very special birthing day.  After all, we can all get married again, but we can never be born again.