Having a baby changes the life of a new mother instantly; being a mother is a 24-hour job and one with little or no preparation.
This can, at times, be overwhelming.
Of course, there is no end of advice available: ‘Sleep when the baby sleeps’; ‘Take time for yourself every day’; ‘Leave the housework for now and concentrate on your baby’.
Most of the suggestions come down to finding a healthy balance in your new life.
You need to look after your baby, but you also need to look after yourself.
This means ensuring you eat well and get enough exercise, sleep and time to yourself.
Unfortunately, this is not always easy. Having a young baby is challenging, and a lot of what happens throughout the day — and night — is out of your control.
Carol Asuncion, assistant vice president, finance, of the Argus Group, is a new mother with a four-month-old son, Karl. She has managed to find balance, but it did take time.
Mrs Asuncion said: “At first I was surprised at how looking after a new baby took up my entire day. But I didn’t want to leave my baby, and as much as possible, I didn’t want anyone else looking after him.
“It was tiring, especially when I was already sleep deprived. Now I have some balance; I have learned to let go when I need to and I make sure I spend time on myself.”
She also learned to accept help from those who offered. Family and friends can look after your needs — by cooking or cleaning perhaps — so that you can turn your attention to your baby.
And remember, if you are tired there is nothing wrong with having someone take the baby for an hour to give you a break.
Fatigue is common in new mothers and many skip exercise because they are exhausted.
Exercise actually creates energy in your body. It helps you to lose weight gained from pregnancy and is good for your mental and social health. Even 15 minutes a day can help.
Find an exercise routine that can includes your baby, such as stroller exercises or yoga. Studies show this early exposure to exercise can have a positive effect on even young babies. At the end of the day it will also help you, and hopefully your baby, to sleep better.
Being active is also a great way to connect with other new moms. In Bermuda why not try: Baby Boot Camp at www.babybootcamp.com; Kids in Action at www.kidsinaction-bm.com; Kindermusik at www.musicschool.bm; swimming, see www.swimminginstinct.com; and gymnastics, see www.bermudagymnastics.com.
All of these offer programmes for new moms and babies. Joining a playgroup will also help you to socialize and share experiences and advice.
As always, proper nutrition is essential to give you energy, help maintain or lose weight, and to keep you healthy.
Accept offers of meals and find easy, nutritious recipes that you, or someone else, can make quickly. Steer clear of prepared, fatty or high-sodium foods.
Regular exercise and eating well also helps to reduce stress. It is important to keep anxiety in check. Realize that some days will be better than others, and take each day as it comes.
Above all, Mrs Asuncion advises all new mothers to enjoy every moment.
“Regardless of how sleep-deprived or overwhelmed you are, enjoy yourself. I didn’t realise time would pass so quickly and I don’t want to miss any of the special milestones of my son’s growth.”
Motherhood is not about neglecting your needs, it’s about finding a balance between looking after your baby, enjoying the time you have with your little one and spending time taking care of yourself. In the end, you and your baby will be healthier and happier.
Gwyneth Rawlins is a customer relations specialist at the Argus Group. For more information go to www.argus.bm.
Oh Baby 2012!