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Babies 0-12 Months | First Few Weeks

What To Expect From The First 6 Weeks

First things first
For you to embrace this new life of yours, you actually have to leave the hospital. Instead of it filling you with excitement, the idea of taking your newborn baby home can have quite the opposite effect: Will I cope? How will I know what to do and when to do it? Who will come running when I ring the bell?
Having to leave the very safe hospital environment with all its experts and emergency facilities, and having to care for this baby all by your lonesome, can be quite daunting and might feel like a responsibility that you are not totally prepared for. This does not only apply to first time moms, because with your second baby you know that you will probably not cope – especially with an over-zealous toddler awaiting a sibling’s homecoming. This is when it gets quite tempting to fake a serious relapse and demand morphine. But although most new moms feel quite unsure in the beginning, they quickly find their way and soon feel more confident in handling their newborns. All you need to make the trip home is 1 x brand-spanking-new car seat and 1 x nappy bag. Now smile!


The hang of things
The first 6 weeks will be spent getting into the swing of things, finding your rhythm, adjusting to the idea of caring for another little person, mastering the art of breast feeding (or bottle feeding and sterilising) and being good to your body by giving it time to heal – especially if you had an episiotomy or a caesarean. You will soon come to know what to expect next and how to juggle a few things all at once. You will by now also have adjusted to the idea of only brushing your teeth by 4pm and knowing that a one-minute shower is a huge luxury.

Sleep deprivation
You will ask for, wish for, pray for and beg for more sleep. The best gift anyone can give you at this point is time off to catch up on some sleep. But the reality is that it will always be one of those elusive pleasures. Sleep deprivation will cause you to be more cranky, teary, irritable, sensitive and moody. The same goes for your partner; the new dad. Not a good combination! Take extra care in the way you communicate with each other, which in mommy-language only means that he should watch his tone. The sooner you accept the fact that you won’t get much sleep for a while, the easier it will be to deal with it. The good news is that this won’t last forever, your baby will soon sleep through and life will be bliss!

Dealing with baby blues
As a new mom you need to understand that the baby blues is usually part of the package and perfectly normal. You might feel overwhelmed, cry for no particular reason and feel nervous or anxious. This can last for a few days, but should slowly fade and leave you more in control of your emotions. If you are experiencing these symptoms and it doesn’t let up at all, please contact your gynaecologist so that you can be treated for post-natal depression; the Mother of baby blues. Symptoms of postnatal depression include a feeling of hopelessness and difficulty in coping with baby’s demands, showing very little interest in baby, fear, angst, tearfulness, depression and fatigue. Don’t feel guilty! You are not a bad mommy, postnatal depression is an illness that can be treated.

Now is the perfect time to lower your standards. It’s always a challenge to any new mom to let things go a bit, even if she has permission. You will have to learn to prioritise and very soon you’ll realise that sleep will be very high on your list. An untidy house is not the end of the world, so instead of tidying use your free time to catch up on some sleep. You will need all your strength as well as your sense of humour, so you might as well recharge your battery as often as possible. Get fulltime domestic help if you can afford it, even if it’s only for a month or two. Preparing and freezing some healthy homemade meals that are safe to eat while breastfeeding, prior to baby’s birth, will make your life so much easier when you find yourself all over the place with no time for cooking.

Everyone, from the new granny to your husband’s second niece, will want to see the new addition to your family. This is as good a time as any to learn the finer skill of saying no. Give yourself time to settle in, get used to your baby and once you feel ready, start arranging visits that suits your schedule. Don’t feel guilty to say no to a pushy friend or family member. There will be a lot of time for others to get acquainted; the first few weeks belong to your immediate family.

Shopping will never be the same again
Even the straightforward task of buying bread and milk can turn into a huge mission, because dashing-in-and-out of shops will be something of the past. If you do have the nerve to park your car right in front of a convenience store and quickly rush in while keeping a keen but nervous eye on the car, you will at some stage fall victim to a few disgusted what-a-bad-mother-you-are looks from strangers – even after you’ve been responsible enough to lock the car, find a shady spot right in front of the shop and leave all the windows slightly open.

The going-to-the-shop routine will be something like this:

  • Comb your hair and brush your teeth.
  • Get dressed, as you are probably still in your milk-spit-up covered PJ’s.
  • Pack baby’s bag just in case.
  • Strap baby into carrier, lock up, strap the carrier into the car, strap yourself in.
  • Okay, you’re ready to go.
  • As you pull away baby starts crying, so you pull over, undo safety belt and insert dummy.
  • Strap yourself back in.
  • At this stage baby will decide to make the famous ill-timed poo. If it’s your first baby you will immediately pull over and change his diaper; if it’s your second baby you will know that he cannot possibly develop a nappy rash that quickly, so you’ll carry on driving.
  • Drive to the shop, undo both of your safety belts and rush in as it’s almost time for the next feed.
  • Get bread and milk while constantly inserting the dummy to keep baby silent and stop people from staring at your flustered face.
  • Pay and repeat the whole strap-in-and-undo scenario, this time with baby screaming for food.

Although this is the very truth, babies are all different and you may be one of the moms blessed with a good baby that will allow you to do your shopping in peace. Shoping does get easier with time though, especially as you perfect your multi-tasking skills.

Remember to include dad
With all the excitement and wonder, it’s easy to zoom in on baby and forget about his daddy. Dad’s life has changed as well, and he’s probably not too sure what to make of it yet. He doesn’t get much sleep, he doesn’t get any sex and might be wondering if it’s too soon to ask, he feels left out and has to deal with a teary wife and a screaming baby, and there are all the added responsibilities on top of that. So it’s just fair to include him! A great way to draw dad in is to have him bath his son or daughter every afternoon when he gets home from work. This will be his thing and will be a great bonding experience for them both. If you are bottle feeding, this is a sure way of including dad in the bonding experience as well by letting him do some of the feeds. Dads usually help a lot with the practical stuff like washing, cooking, cleaning and burping baby while mom tries to find her way. This in itself is a huge gift, so remember to show your appreciation. Make time for a quick chat and a cuddle everyday, and perhaps start looking at having a regular date night where the two of you can catch up.

Don’t stress if you feel that you aren’t getting everything right according to your baby books. Start activating your senses and enjoy your baby: feel your baby’s skin on yours, take in its newborn smell, listen to the soft coo noises and kiss away a salty teardrop. Embrace the first six weeks, because before you know it your tiny baby has lost his newborn-look and is on his way to take his first steps. Live in the moment!

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