Taking care of a newborn is exhausting work, but God's grace gives parents strength they didn't know they had.
Every time I look at pictures from the first days of my son’s life, I remember how challenging that time was. I felt as if I had been put in a bubble and lost all communication with the outside world.
My attention was entirely focused on my baby. So much so that when he slept well and hardly cried I couldn’t relax. I slept very lightly, and got up all the time to check if he was okay. Since he was exclusively breastfed until six months old, I wasn’t able to take turns with my husband taking care of him in the wee hours.
Even as a first-time mother, I always thought I could handle it all on my own, and I never complained or asked for help. While there was an upside to that—I felt confident in my ability to handle this new challenge of motherhood —there also was a very real downside: I was exhausted all the time. But thank God, my baby slept through the night, and that kept me from breaching the limits of human endurance.
After the first few weeks, our routine seemed to be under control, and even with a baby who never really suffered from colic, I did have some tense moments due to episodes of him crying intensely during which I didn’t know what to do.
When I talk with my friends’ about the first days of their babies’ lives at home, I feel fortunate. I believe that one of the things that helped me to hold on to peace of mind was following the recommendations my pediatrician gave me in one of our first appointments. They were very basic, but highly effective for my little family, and I’d like to share them with you.
1Breastfeeding on demand.
Since my baby only received breast milk, I breastfed him whenever he woke up from his constant naps, so that I never felt worried that he was crying because of hunger.
2Keep your baby in a suitable temperature.
My son was born during a harsh winter, so I always wrapped him up and kept him protected with mittens and blankets. Although I was nervous that he’d feel cold, I was also constantly alert to ensure that I didn’t go overboard with layers of clothing. On warmer days, I used lighter clothes, because being too warm irritates babies.
3Change diapers regularly.
Changing your baby’s diaper frequently, helps avoids rashes, which are of course painful for little ones. Look for brands that are highly absorbent, but even so, be sure to change your baby’s diaper frequently, especially right after the baby poops.
Too much light or noise, or even too many outings and visitors, can make your child more irritated and agitated than normal. To help the situation, change the baby’s surroundings and turn off the lights. Wait a few minutes, and if your child still seems upset, keep him or her on your lap and rock them gently. Closeness to mommy’s body will make them relaxed and calm.
Sometimes your baby needs a walk or sensory stimulation to feel better. Things like a bath, a song, or a walk to the park can be the solution.
6Pray and keep close to God.
These tips helped me, but I still went through situations where my son cried tirelessly, and at the peak of my emotional difficulty, I asked God for help so I could deal with the situation. During those hours, praying the Lord’s Prayer and the Hail Mary helped me to regain some serenity, and during that prayer I included Psalm 30, which helped me to regain my strength and wisdom. That is why, mamas, whenever you experience something similar, don’t forget to include it in your prayer:
I will extol you, O Lord, for you have drawn me up, and did not let my foes rejoice over me. O Lord my God, I cried to you for help, and you have healed me. O Lord, you brought up my soul from Sheol, restored me to life from among those gone down to the Pit.[a] Sing praises to the Lord, O you his faithful ones, and give thanks to his holy name. For his anger is but for a moment; his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes with the morning. As for me, I said in my prosperity, “I shall never be moved.” By your favor, O Lord, you had established me as a strong mountain; you hid your face; I was dismayed. To you, O Lord, I cried, and to the Lord I made supplication…