When a new baby arrives, it can be hard to maintain connections with your old friends, particularly those who do not yet have kids or those who have kids older than yours. New moms tend to focus completely on their babies. This can be dull for friends who are not sharing your experiences. While your friends will love to come over and see the baby, they will feel neglected if that is all that you are ever able to do with them. Be sure to nurture your friendships. Ask about your friends’ work, relationships, and travel plans. And, while it is totally fine to ask friends to come over and spend time with you and the baby, try to arrange some time to spend just with them. Even if it takes some planning, and even if it is torture to pull yourself away from the little one for a few hours, it will probably surprise you how much you end up enjoying the break! Once you get home, you will surely be a Calmer Mom!
Archive for March, 2008
Babies are not the only ones that need constant attention and nurturing. Marriages do too. When baby arrives, don’t forget about your spouse. For people who are in a committed relationship, it is important to remember that you had a baby with your spouse. Presumably, you decided to have a baby because you were in love. When new baby arrives, it can be very easy to forget about your spouse. After all, he does not wear diapers or need to eat in the middle of the night (hopefully). And, he doesn’t have cute chubby little legs that you can squeeze or little pillowy cheeks for you to kiss.
Regardless of how delicious and demanding your new little one is, don’t forget your spouse. Ask about his day at work. Sit down to eat a meal with him (even if it is store-bought and you are nursing the baby while eating). Give him a kiss goodnight (even if it is at 3 AM). And, tell him about your day too. While new moms often worry that their days sound a bit dull, dads are often very interested to hear about all the dirty diapers, outings to the park, and cute new baby tricks. Stay involved with each other.
There is perhaps no time in your life when communication skills are as important as when you have your first baby. You and your spouse will need to discuss new roles and responsibilities. You and your boss will need to plan your return to work and changes you might need to put in place in order to balance work and home. And, most new moms are familiar with tricky discussions with parents, in-laws and other family members who might be a tad bit too opinionated and tad bit too disrespectful of the boundaries your new family needs.
Communication skills are best discussed with an example. We all have heard about moms or mother-in-laws who pop by any time, without calling first, to see their Princess Grandbaby. After a few times of being caught with spit-up all over your shirt, poop up the back of your baby’s sleeper, unwashed hair, and dirty dishes in the sick, you’ve had enough. Well, here are two communication styles to avoid when trying to solve this problem:
Don’t communicate passively. Example: “Don’t worry Mom. You just drop by anytime you want to see the baby. I don’t mind”. With passive communication, your mom will feel happy and get what she needs (visits with her precious one), but your own needs will be thrown out with the dirty diapers!
Don’t communicate aggressively. Example: “Get the heck out of my house. I can’t stand you coming by like this unannounced!” With aggressive communication, you will get your way, but your mom will feel attacked and resentful.
So, how should a Calm Mom communicate?
Always consider the other person’s feelings and needs while you are voicing your own feelings and needs. When the other person hears that you are taking their needs into account, you will likely succeed in getting your own needs met. Example: “Mom, thank you for coming to see the baby. I know you enjoy it and so does she. However, it would be really great if you could call first. That way, I can get everything ready so we can all enjoy the visit more.”
We have all heard of women who leave the hospital after having a baby in their size 4 jeans. Have you ever met one of these women? I haven’t! Maybe they don’t even exist. New moms must have reasonable expectations about how long it might take for you to look like your normal self again. Your body undergoes vast changes during pregnancy, and expecting to look like your normal self one week post-partum will only set you up for disappointment. We have all heard the old adage – 9 months on, 9 months off. If you set yourself the goal of losing the weight and getting your shape back by 9 months post-partum, won’t it be a pleasant surprise if you accomplish this goal even sooner?
Many women work before having children. They are used to spending their days in the company of other people, discussing work and day-to-day things. Without the responsibility of children, women often spend their spare time in the company of others. All of a sudden, the baby is born and you are home with…well, a little person who can’t talk. Putting aside that having a new baby can be stressful, being home with him can make you feel lonely….or sometimes even bored!
One Calm Mom tip is to remember that babies love the sounds of their mommy’s voices. Chat with the baby, even if he can’t chat back. Tell him about your friend’s new boyfriend, or about how you and Daddy met. He’ll enjoy hearing you, and you might feel less lonely too.
However, companionship with other adults who can say more than “goo” is an essential part of being a Calm Mom.
So, get out there are make friends with some other new moms!
While making new friends takes effort, it is worth it. Trust me! Chat with other new moms in the grocery store. Go outside to meet a new mom who you have seen walking her baby down your street. Purposefully go where other new moms go, like breast-feeding support groups, mom-baby exercise classes, and baby storytime at your local library. Even if you are shy by nature, try to approach people. Once in a while, the person you approach might think you are weird and rush off as quickly as possible. But, most of the time, other new moms are in the same boat as you and would love to make friends with another new mom.
And, when you make these new friendships, be open and honest. Many new moms worry that if they are open about the “not so rosy” parts of being a new mom, people will think that they are “bad” moms. Being open does not mean being Eeyore, talking only about the hard stuff. It means sharing the great times, like the first time your baby smiles at you (oh, is that a great day!!!!) and the hard stuff. The great thing about sharing is that it allows not only for sharing of experience, but also for sharing of advice. If you mention that your baby won’t take a bottle, your new friend might say, “Oh! Mine wouldn’t either until I tried Brand X. He took to it right away.” These tidbits of advice often help new moms be calmer moms!
During pregnancy, women typically gain 25-35 pounds.
Do you know anyone whose pregnancy went to full-term who gained only 25 pounds? I don’t.
The reality is that most of us gain a fair bit more. Luckily, giving birth takes care of some of this weight. But, most women leave the hospital still looking fairly pregnant.
Although people are quite forgiving of weight gain during pregnancy, the expectations for weight loss after pregnancy tend to be completely unrealistic.
As an example, in the January issue of Vogue magazine, a caption next to a very thin model reads, “A fluid evening dress drips with glamour on Natalia Vodianova, who appeared in seven [fashion] shows weeks after having her third baby”. This kind of pressure most certainly spurs trends like the “The Mom Job” – a plastic surgery fix-up that moms can get to fix up all the “damage” that ensues from pregnancy (see the October 4, 2007 New York Times).
The media (and often, people in our lives) give new moms a clear message:
You should be able to take your baby weight off…and it should come off quickly.
When messages like this one are in conflict with reality, new moms can be left feeling guilty, ashamed and depressed.
At the Calm Mom, we are happy to offer several (realistic) tips to new moms on how to take off their pregnancy weight and how to handle the emotions associated with this process.