Bringing a newborn baby home is undoubtedly one of the biggest challenges parents face, as they have to re-structure theirs lives to fit around a tiny little person. Many couples struggle with the adaptation, and as a single mother those challenges are doubled. Whether you have decided to go into a pregnancy as a single parent, or whether circumstances have meant that you are now the sole-carer, there are some great tips on newborns for single mothers and how to manage this overwhelming, yet precious transition.
Whilst we know all newborns come with different sets of personalities, the best thing you can do for yourself (and your sanity) is to try to plan and prepare as much as you can before the arrival of your little one. Preparation does not need to be tedious and can be a lot of fun, as you establish how your baby will fit into your routine and things like setting up the baby’s nursery, or preparing all the little outfits can be a welcome distraction to the task ahead of you.
- Support Network – Try to set this up before you give birth. Any parent who has looked after a newborn will tell you that a support system is invaluable. Simply finding time to take a shower and get a few minutes of peace can be difficult and having someone who is willing to come over and help out a little can be an immense relief. You may even want to ask someone, such as your Mom or a close friend, to spend a few nights with you after you arrive home. They might even have some tips on newborns for single mothers. Things like midnight feeds can feel relentless in those first few days and having a parent or friend; can ease the transition into a new routine.
- Practical Items – Before you go into hospital, they will most likely give you a list of things you will require. Try to ensure you are prepared for when you arrive home. Newborns do not like to be kept waiting, and making simple preparations, such as ensuring baby’s items are sterilized, clothing is packed, the crib has been made up and baby’s toiletries are in place can be not only time-saving but energy saving.
- Mentally Prepare – As mentioned, all babies are different and it is best to prepare yourself for a less than perfect ride into Motherhood. Even if you are intent on breastfeeding, there can be circumstances that mean you may not be able to do so. Whilst it is excellent to make decisions regarding the route you would like to take, always keep in the back of your mind that sometimes things do not work out as we hoped. This is not to say that it won’t, but in the event that you find one of your best made plans challenged, it is good to have a back-up plan and ensure that you are mentally prepared to manage it.
Bringing Your Baby Home
We all adapt at different paces to Motherhood and you will find that you will adopt your own style of parenting a newborn that is unique to your needs. You will need to consider things such as routine, establish your babies feeding times and still make time to ensure you are caring for yourself. The most practical advice is to remember that you are not perfect. All the plans you may have made before, may not be the most practical ideas, now that you have your baby at home with you. Don’t beat yourself up when you feel you are stumbling a little, every new parent faces this challenge.
- Establish Your Routine – If you have given birth in a hospital, you will most likely have had a day or two to get settled and start to know your babies needs and routine. In those first few days, try to be as lenient as possible with routine, whilst you get to know your baby. It is no use trying to force a strict routine on a baby who has completely different ideas when it comes to feeding times. Whether you are breast or bottle feeding, your baby will soon establish a schedule that you can work with. Tasks such as bathing your baby can be a little more set in time. Babies find a lot of comfort in practical tasks being done around the same time every day. It will also help you to gain a hold on those first whirlwind days, to know that you bath your baby at 5pm every evening and your personal tasks can be planned accordingly. If you can, try to take note of your baby’s cues, such as when he gets hungry or when he likes to nap. Working with your newborn’s cues, rather than against them can be immensely stress relieving and will help avoid mom and baby meltdowns.
- Visitors – Now that you are home with your baby, you may find that there are many well-meaning friends and relatives who are popping round to meet your little one. Whilst this is done with the best intentions, it can cause a considerable amount of stress for you, especially if a guest unexpectedly arrives when you are just about to put baby to sleep. Let your family and friends know that you would like to plan visits in advance. If you can, try and set up your voicemail, as phone calls can be distracting at the best of times. Do not be afraid to turn people away. The first few days with a new baby can be intense and by forcing yourself to accept visitors, you are facing potential disaster. This is time for you and your baby to be the most important people to consider, as your visitors will not be dealing with a tired, hungry baby after they have left. If a visitor is ill, you have an absolute right to turn them away- do not unnecessarily expose your baby to germs from a cold-ridden visitor.
- Home Help – If you are able to enlist a person to help you with household chores, it can be of huge help. You will most likely feel very tired and overwhelmed and having someone there to help you with tasks like washing the dishes and vacuuming can take a load off your shoulders. There are a lot of people for whom hiring house-help is not a possibility, and it is advised that you try and relax your standard a little in the first days. You are allowed to let things go a little, however you can also ask family and friends for help. Believe it or not, many will happily step in to help you get things a little more organized on the home-front. If you feel uneasy asking friends or family to help you do the actual cleaning, then ask someone to help you watch baby whilst you straighten things out a little.
- Look After Yourself – You will need to ensure you are up to date with all your post-natal checks, and whilst most of us are great at keeping a doctor’s appointment, we seem to forget that we are also human and in need of some pampering. A shower can go a long way in helping you to rejuvenate yourself, if you cannot manage to squeeze in a long bath. If there is nobody to watch baby and you are still a little nervous about leaving him on his own in a crib, then strap him into a car seat and sit him close by. Let yourself sleep when your baby sleeps. Most of us are inclined to want to get as much done as possible when baby is sleeping, however there will be times when you will feel exhausted and getting some rest whilst baby is napping can make a huge difference and leave you feeling much better.
- Look after your Emotions – Some of us ease into Motherhood easier than others, however there are sure to be times when you feel extremely emotional. Not only are your hormones regulating themselves back to pre-pregnancy, but becoming a parent is a big deal and it comes with a lot of emotions. Most women experience the three-day blues after giving birth and it is ok for it to go a little longer than that. If you feel overwhelmed or out of your depth, be reassured that many feel like that and don’t be afraid to talk to a family member or friend. Many women suffer from Post-Natal Depression and there seems to be a large number of women who prefer to keep it quiet, rather than dealing with it for fear of being judged. If you are feeling completely overwhelmed, are depressed, finding it difficult to cope or are having thoughts of harming yourself or baby, get help as soon as possible. Despite the fact that many feel the stigma attached to Post Natal depression is huge, reality is that most women will actually understand how you are feeling. Make an appointment with your G.P or OB-Gyn and get help as soon as possible. If treated early, PND can be effectively dealt with and will make your bonding time baby a lot easier.
- Get Out and About – Take your baby for a walk or go and visit a friend or family member. Establishing a routine can be all consuming and make you feel a little trapped. Sometimes a change of scenery can make a huge difference for you and baby. Try to avoid busy shopping malls and loud places, a simple stroll can do the trick for both of you.
As a Single Parent of a Newborn, you cannot be expected to have the answer to everything and there may be times when you need an answer and people are not available. Newborn Forums and Single Parent forums can be a valuable source of information during these moments. There are also excellent books written on a range of topics as you start the journey of Single-Parenthood. Blogging can be a great outlet as well as a platform for reflecting on and remember those precious first days. Quiet time for you, can be something that is quite rare, so it can be extremely rewarding to spend some time doing what you enjoy most, even if you feel you need a few bragging rights as you overcome some of your obstacles.
The most important thing to remember as you navigate this journey is that you are not alone and that there are a lot of tips on newborns for single mothers out there. Many of the things you will think and feel are more often than not, completely normal. Even if you find that you are the only single-parent of a newborn, most married or partnered new parents will most likely be feeling the same way, so reach out. One of the best things you can do for your baby is too make sure you take the time to look after yourself, a healthy mom is better able to care for her baby, than a frazzled, stressed out mom who does not give attention to her own needs. Give yourself a break and enjoy your baby, these moments pass by all too quickly and there are definitely times when the laundry can wait. Take the time to get to know your baby and his little personality and before you know it, you will be reaping the rewards for all your hard work in those special moments when he flashes you a gorgeous gummy smile.