Like most first time mums I was thrilled to take my bundle of joy home.
I knew the responsibility that came with having a baby and so I had prepared myself mentally and ‘physically’ to handle anything that came my way. These are some of the things I wish I knew by the time I was giving birth. In fact some are things I wish I applied but unfortunately like most new mothers, I had assumed they would come instinctively!
I may be the primary caregiver but my husband can handle the baby too.
I felt like I was the only one who could care for the baby; I never thought my husband could handle the baby even for a moment. I showered when he slept, even when the dad asked to give him a bath, I was there, stood by his side as he did it. This can only go on for a while before you crumble we are meant to be strong. But even they (fathers) are strong, they can handle the baby, take a break, go for a 1 hour pedicure, graduate to a 2 hour break, just let them take care of their offspring and create a bond. The diaper might face the wrong side of the vest might be back to front, but they will do everything in their power to make sure that the baby is fine.
People are not out to harm my baby. I remember I was so wary of letting my housie hold the baby, I would hold my toilet break to when he slept. I just never trusted her with the baby, she offered but most of the time I had a reason not to give her the baby to hold. When the father was there, I found myself hoarding the baby, not that I did not trust him with the baby, I just felt like he was more secure with me. People are not out to harm you baby, relax. Had I known what I know now, I would have let him have the baby more, he ‘forced’ to carry him and put him to sleep, now I know I did not have to be awake as he burped him at night and put him back to bed, I should have slept.
When help is offered, take it. Need I say more? No matter how supper mum you are, you need help, I did not have a full-time housie when my baby was born, so between making sure I had eaten, dishes were cleaned, dinner to prepared, baby was fed, put to sleep, and caring for my CS wound, I was bound to go nuts, I should have accepted the help. My friend came over 3 times a week to just keep me company and make sure I was sober; she let me sleep as she rocked the baby. Accept help, if it is not offered, ask for it, do not go at it as super mum.
You matter too. This lesson came about 3 weeks after giving birth, I had a clogged duct, my right boob was in so much pain, I tried expressing, breastfeeding only from it, nothing was working. This entire time I was wondering how I would bundle up my baby we go to hospital, then I developed a fever, I tried showering to see if it would go away. Then my husband told me that we were going to hospital, how? Who is going to stay with the baby, we cannot go to hospital with our very newborn. Well I am glad he put his foot down, called a friend to babysit and we went to hospital. I mater too, when it has all said and done, I am important and my well-being is important for the sake of the baby.
Postpartum depression is not a western phenomenon. I knew about postpartum depression thanks to DSTV’s Tia and Tamera, but that was it. I did not know of the signs and even how to avoid it. However, when it hit, it hit hard. Talk to someone, let your husband or partner know what you are going through. Do not be silent or else you will cave in under the stress and pressure. Take time out for yourself and be intentional about forgetting about your baby. Call up your girlfriend and have juice, talk about life, not baby.
If I was to do it all over again, I would keep these things in mind.
Editor’s Note: Are you at risk of Post-Natal Depression? Download our Post-natal Depression Checklist by one of Kenya’s Leading Doulas in our Info Center.