Tips For Adjusting To Motherhood


The First Few Weeks of Motherhood


For any woman, whether it is your first, second… or fifth (!) baby, the first weeks after your baby is born can be an intense emotional experience and a time of adjustment for the whole family. Although every mother and every baby is different, the following are a few psychological and practical pointers to help you stay afloat at this time.

Bub will be your focus, but look after yourself too

Allow Yourself Time to Rest and Recover

Childbirth, whether you’ve had a vaginal birth or caesarian section, can be a physically intense experience (to say the least!) Although the female body has an incredible capacity to repair itself, it requires time, nourishment and rest to do so. Ensure you’re having regular meals, stay hydrated, and elicit help from other family members (especially when it comes to care of other children in the family) so that you can have as much down-time with your newborn as possible.

Ask for Help with Breastfeeding

If breastfeeding is proving difficult, ask for help as soon as possible. You’re not alone – many women find that breastfeeding is not quite as intuitive as they might have expected, and some women have a medical or physiological reason that may make the process more difficult. Although there is clear evidence of the health benefits of breast-feeding, the information provided to women can unfortunately sometimes be emotionally-loaded and unhelpful. Whatever your breast-feeding plans, seek out accurate and balanced information from trusted healthcare professionals.

Keep Things in Perspective

Newborns have fairly simple needs – food, safety and physiological comfort (e.g. burping, nappy changing), so try not to get too caught up in the ‘best’ way to do things. Avoid unrealistic plans for what you can achieve in a day, and be prepared to let things like housework go – sleep is more important. And if you’re feeling overwhelmed and need some time for yourself, set boundaries around visits from family and friends so you can focus on some quiet time with your new family. There will be plenty of time for visitors – you don’t have to open your doors the very first week you’re home.

Between hormones, sleep deprivation, and the enormous changes that come with having a new baby, emotional highs and lows are common in the first few weeks’ post-birth. If you have a history of depression or are concerned that your mood has been consistently low for two weeks or more and you’re unable to experience any feelings of joy, speak with your General Practitioner about a referral to a clinical psychologist.

Brittany McGill is a clinical psychologist who completed her postgraduate clinical training at the University of New South Wales. She is interested in anxiety and mood disorders across the lifespan and uses cognitive-behavioural and other evidence-based strategies to help people achieve positive change in their lives.


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