Ever since Carter was born, I’ve been asked frequently how I’m adjusting to life after having a baby or any tips on adjusting to life with a baby. It’s a loaded question and I struggle how to answer this. But now that Carter is a year old (how do I have a one year old already?!?!), I have a better idea on how to answer the question. Just a reminder, I’m talking based on my experience. There is no right or wrong way to approach motherhood. It’s all subjective and we are all doing our best. So if some of this doesn’t relate to you, that is totally okay!
Adjusting To Life After Having A Baby
There are many changes that happen during pregnancy and after childbirth. These changes are not only physical but can also be emotional, social, and mental. I especially talked about this in my 4th trimester experience. (If you’re curious, I also documented my 1st, 2nd, and 3rd trimester experience – I share my physical and mental symptoms.).
One thing I know for sure is that it is so important for new mothers to get as much support as they can. The moment I held Carter in my arms, I knew my life would completely change. While I was so overwhelmed with joy and my heart explodes every time I look and hold Carter, I was also feeling overwhelmed with my responsibilities.
Adjusting to life after having a baby requires patience and emotional commitment. Being a parent is a lot of trial and error. Let me tell you, I was constantly afraid of not getting it right or potentially not doing a good job taking care of Carter. I kept asking myself – what if I’m not giving him what he needs, how do I not know how to do this I’m his mother, etc. It takes a lot of hard work to set up a new routine. Looking back, those moments felt like an eternity when in reality they may have been a couple hours or at most a week of having bad days.
Now that I’m a year out, I’m sharing practical and helpful tips that can help any of you cope with new lives as parents in the easiest way possible.
Consider your priorities
The moment you come home from the hospital, your to-do list expands and you have more than you can handle. Write a list and prioritize. Life with a newborn is all about prioritizing and being okay that not everything is complete. In between bottle feeding, I was trying to clean up – wash bottles, pick up anything that was out of place, laundry, etc. I was so exhausted in addition to the lack of sleep. After a couple of weeks, I knew I had to change things and be okay letting go of some of my responsibilities to adjust to parenthood. The first thing I let go of was this blog – which I know most of you noticed – and being okay not having a clean house. Don’t feel like you have to do it all.
Accepting Offers of Help From Family and Friends
When family and friends asked if there was anything they could do to help, accept it! I feel very fortunate that my family lives locally and it was nice that when I needed an extra hand a family member was able to come over. At first, I tried to be a gracious host and eventually I got comfortable asking them to wash some bottles or wipe the kitchen counters. I wish I was okay asking for these tasks early on because I think adjusting to parenthood would have been a bit easier.
Using A Baby Sling
Those early days, especially the first few months, your baby will want to be with you all the time. You’ll be amazed how much you can get done by wearing a baby sling or baby wrap. I LOVE the Solly Baby Wrap and I wrote a review of their wraps here. I was able to soothe Carter when he was fussy in the wrap or get things done around the house. Wearing one is also a great way to bond with your baby too! The baby gets to be held close and have that skin-to-skin contact.
Leaving The House
Stroller walks were one of my favorite parts of the day. I looked forward to them. It felt so good to get some fresh air and get my body moving. It was also an awesome opportunity for me to explore parts of our neighborhood that I did not know existed! On days I’m able to leave the house, I notice how much of a better mood I’m in.
Taking Time To Relax
If you’re a mom, you know ‘relaxing’ is laughable. Because it almost doesn’t exist. I’m not trying to scare all you new mamas, just being realistic.
Whenever I had a few moments that I was not doing anything while Carter napped, I almost always felt like I had to do something. So I used to do way more than I should instead of embracing that I could sit down.
Feeding your baby can be exhausting too. Every 45 minutes, Carter wanted his bottle. So when a family member comes over, I let them feed Carter while I get to relax. Plus, they think giving him a bottle is fun! So it’s a win-win!
One thing I advise all mamas to do during those few months is enjoy your baby being in your arms. Because that stage will be over before you know it and they want to squirm out of your arms. Carter is always on the go and I try so hard to have him sit still in my arms like the newborn days. So enjoy that they love being in your arms and relax!
Doing What You Love To Do Pre-Pregnancy
Is there something you loved doing before you were pregnant? Do it! It’ll seem impossible, but with time you’ll figure it out. For me, I loved working out and reading. So as soon as I got cleared to work out, I slowly got back to it. It helped me feel like myself again. Believe it or not, even with the lack of sleep I had insomnia haha. So I took those times to read books.
Spending time with my husband alone was also very important. Between work and the baby it felt like we had zero time together. As soon as Tre and I felt comfortable, we asked a family member to watch Carter for a few hours while we had a date night at our favorite sushi spot.
This is another really hard one! I should also add that ‘stop worrying’ means to trust your partner that they can handle the parenting responsibilities too. I constantly felt that I had to do it all because I wasn’t sure if Tre could or that I constantly needed to supervise him. My intentions meant well, I was just worried. I wanted to be sure Carter was well taken care of when in fact, Tre has a different parenting style and that doesn’t mean he’s wrong.
Surrounding Yourself With People Who Support You
Being a parent changes you and your priorities. Life with a newborn is different and sometimes there are people in your life that don’t understand that. It feels draining to be in a friendship when you are constantly being judged. It’s okay to walk away and surround yourself only with people who support you in your new life.
Meeting Other Parents
This was one I could not do much. Having a baby during the pandemic is isolating. But moments when I had opportunities to meet new parents was really nice. It’s a special bond because they totally get where you are coming from. Now that things are easing up, I’m more open to meeting other parents.
Important To Remember
I hope these tips are helpful. Some of you might have heard of these already. Just remember that parenting is a learning curve. It takes time to adjust to your new life when the baby is born. So don’t be hard on yourself! I know with me, when I finally get into a groove with Carter, he changes on me and I’m back to square one. And that is all normal and totally okay! Looking back, now I understand that babies go through stages and they don’t last as long as I thought.
As a mother, you’re constantly doing what feels like everything. And sometimes in the middle of doing whatever I felt like I had to, I’d be crying. There’s a lot going on. Just know you are doing great. And remember to take time for yourself too. Even though you have a baby, you also have to be looking out for yourself too. Treat yourself from time to time. Our mental health matters and if you need someone to talk to you, do it. I continued to talk to my Onco-psychologist throughout postpartum and I’m glad I did. It felt good to talk to someone unbiased.