As a clinician, I have encouraged clients with positive psychology tips in their daily lives, often mentioning ideas such as using “self-affirmations” or a “reframing” perspective. A self-affirmation might be an encouraging or praising thought for something they either like about themselves or felt they did well at. A reframing perspective is looking at a stressful situation through a different lens/paradigm. Or I might encourage clients to practice gratitude in their lives — identifying things they are thankful for in life, even small things. However, all of this positive psychology and gratitude practice was put to test with the experience of having my own child due to the lack of sleep and the feeding demands of a newborn baby. If you have just had your first child and have all the worries that go along with becoming a new mother, here are six encouraging survival tips for you.
You are not crazy, you are strong.
In keeping perspective, your body has just survived nine months of carrying a growing human being inside, including extra strain and wear/tear on various muscles and joints, in addition to fluctuating hormones. You have actively worked hard through hours of childbirth. Unlike many processes that have become quicker, easier, or more convenient in life, working through childbirth requires strength and resilience.
Your baby already appreciates you as you are.
With many areas of life, we are expected to perform and achieve well…and then do better. With becoming a mother, your child needs you and only you to provide gentle care for him or her. You do not need to criticize or question yourself, since this child only needs you exactly as you are to care. The more that you offer gentle and confident care for your baby, the more your baby will feel comfortable and soothed.
You will get rest again… this sleepless season will pass.
Days of little or no sleep from a hungry and crying baby can start to cumulatively wear on anyone. And there may be nights where you wonder if life will ever go back to “normal” and if you will get any reprieve. But rest assured and keep perspective that the sleepless nights are only temporary. The feeding needs of your baby will gradually decrease, so you will gradually be able to get more hours of sleep each week as your child grows and settles.
Your good efforts transfer into every area of life, including motherhood.
Prior to becoming a mother, you have done well in many areas of life including such roles at your job at work, and in your relationships and friendships. Being resourceful and successful in these roles can transfer into motherhood.
You are not alone, others can help/support you.
While at times you may feel isolated newly taking care of a baby by yourself at home, you can communicate to your partner your needs such as taking over when returning from work. You could ask a family member to assist you and provide a brief break. You could join a mothers’ group or reach out to a friend to stop in or meet for coffee/lunch, particularly another mother in order to encourage each other.
You can savor something in this moment.
The quiet and stillness of nursing a newborn baby or watching him or sleep can be its own meditative moment in life. Having this season, even with the crying and sleepless moments, can be worth the moments of seeing your smiling baby. Or the soft touch of you baby’s hand can be its own moment to cherish.