If you're expecting your first baby, you may be so excited you can't imagine not enjoying the first few months. You may also be nervous, or even downright scared. You know you'll be going through some big changes, and not all of them will be positive.
The first few months with a new baby can be a challenge, emotionally and physically. It's easy to feel overwhelmed and forget to actually enjoy the experience. A few simple things can increase your chances of appreciating what should be a precious and joyous time.
Prepare in advance
You've probably heard that when you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail. Most of us feel we are prepared for our baby's arrival, in some ways. We have the clothes, diapers, crib and ALL the equipment. We went to our antenatal appointments and Lamaze classes, and we've read all the books.
It's a really good idea to prepare emotionally and practically, as well. Use the last few weeks of pregnancy to talk to your husband and close family members about the impact the new arrival will have, and how to deal with it. Enlist the help of family members so you know who you can rely on and when they're available. Help your husband prepare too. Talk to him in detail about his role as a new father and how much you'll all be relying on one another.
No matter how well you prepare, it's likely your baby will surprise you. Be prepared for that, too.
Forgive yourself for anything that didn't go your way
The very first thing to do when your baby gets here is forgive yourself for anything that didn't go your way. Perhaps you wanted a natural birth, and ended up with a c-section. Maybe you wanted to breastfeed and found that simply didn't work for you. You may even find, having looked forward to this moment for so long, you don't instantly bond with your baby.
Forgive yourself and move on. Sometimes things don't go as planned. It's going to happen a lot over the next eighteen years. You might as well get used to it.
Get organized early on
Life with a new baby is chaotic. Little things can make a big difference: keeping your diaper bag well stocked with everything you need and re-packing it after every trip. You might want to keep spare diapers, wipes and a change of clothes in your car. Consider setting up your a baby changing area at home close to where you spend the most time. Always leave extra time when leaving the house with your new baby.
A feeling of social isolation is common when you're at home with a baby all day. Unfortunately, it can impact your ability to enjoy your new baby and may be a contributing factor in postpartum depression. Even if you're an introvert who enjoys your own company, it can be difficult to deal with such a major change to your daily routine.
Make an effort to keep socializing, especially with other moms. Join some mother and baby classes or activities. Schedule regular meet-ups with friends and family, and try to socialize without your baby occasionally, even if it's for only half an hour to enjoy a quick coffee with a friend.
Decide who to turn to for advice
Everyone has advice for a new mom, and much of it is conflicting. Take a close look at your friends and family. Decide whose parenting style most fits with yours. Look at who seems to have the family life you most aspire to. That's probably the best person to turn to for advice.
Just because you've decided whose advice to take, doesn't mean you'll always want to take it. It doesn't mean other people won't offer you unsolicited parenting advice, either. Learn to trust yourself and your maternal instincts. Babies are all different, and you'll learn as you go along what's best for yours.
It's hard when people give you advice you simply don't agree with and would never try. It's best to ignore it if you can, or just politely and firmly point out that you're trying it a different way.
Let some of the chores go
If it's not essential, don't do it. Spend your time with your baby: playing, snuggling, singing to her and just admiring this beautiful brand new person. Take time to drink in the experience instead of running around trying to get everything done.
Remember how unique this experience is
You're probably tired, hormonal and struggling to recover from the physical effects of pregnancy and childbirth. Many moms say those early days passed by quickly, in a bit of a haze. Before they knew it, their baby was no longer a newborn, and maybe they were back to work and getting on with their life.
Try and remember the first few months with a new baby is a unique experience. You never get these early days back. Use that thought, not to put pressure on yourself, but to remind yourself to relax, focus on your baby and enjoy being a new mom.