Redefining Normal: Adjusting to Life After Giving Birth

dad holding newborn smiling baby in the air

Parenting can be an incredible experience filled with joy, love, and so much laughter.

But it can also be a time of loneliness, exhaustion, frustration and tears. And personally, I don’t think anyone or anything can prepare you for becoming a parent.

It’s only once you have kids that you realise how damn hard it is. And how you didn’t have a clue previously!

After my first baby, it took me a really long time to click into a new normal. When I look back to those early days, it seems like a sleep-deprived haze. A fuzz. A mix of memories patchworked together.

And if I’m being honest, I didn’t overly enjoy it. Parenting was so alien to me, and finding our new way of life took time. But with time, it did get easier, and we found our grove. We got to our new normal.

What even is normal, though?

It's important to keep in mind that "normal" will be different for every family. There is no "right" way to navigate life and parenthood once a baby comes along. But there are a few things to be aware of. Let’s take a look…

Sleep Deprivation

It’s hard. So hard. But I promise you will sleep again at some point!

Soon enough, the gaps between the night feeds will extend, and they will settle for longer. If you’re really lucky, they may go through the night. My first son was a sleeper. Our second, less so. He is four and still gets up multiple times in the night. 

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Physical Recovery

After giving birth, your body needs time to recover physically and mentally, regardless of how you gave birth. Take it slowwww. Listen to your body. Put housework to one side and say yes to the offers of help. 

New Routines

Once your baby is out in the big wide world, you’ll find your days, weeks and months dictated by routine. Feeds, naps, meals, naps, changes and so on.

We found that as soon as one thing clicked into place, something else would spectacularly slide out of place. Teething or a bug would rear its ugly head, and bam, we’re out of routine all over again. 

Hormonal Changes

Our bodies go through significant hormonal changes after giving birth, which can lead to mood swings, depression, or anxiety.

It’s important to be aware of the signs of postnatal depression and seek help if you think you’re experiencing any symptoms. I mourned my old life for a long time with baby one. It took me two years to accept that things weren’t ok. 

Changing Relationships

Having a new baby can change the dynamics of a relationship. You might feel lonely, isolated and completely overwhelmed. And you might not!

I can’t emphasise how important it is to remember how different we all are.

Communication is key when navigating relationships with a new baby. Carving out time for each other, although tough, is important too. If you’re lucky to have friends or family around to offer a few hours to babysit, take them up on the offer. 

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Limited Time

Babies require constant attention and care, and this can leave little time for other activities. I found with having my sons, a lot of my old hobbies and loves fell by the wayside.

It’s important to try and continue the things you really enjoy though, especially for maintaining that sense of “self” - me, not just someone’s mum. I’ve found this easier the older they’ve gotten.

Financial Changes

Having a baby usually means increased expenses -car seats, prams, nappies, potentially formula milk, highchairs, toys, and clothes. The list is endless.

But these things don’t have to break the bank. Embrace second-hand when it comes to kids. I find they get bored of toys so fast and grow out of clothes quicker than I can buy them. 

Creating A Support System

A support system is crucial for new parents. This can include family, friends, or other mums and dads who understand what it is like to have a new baby.

Joining a new group or connecting with other parents online can help create a supportive community. I find it can be a quagmire for constant comparison and further feeling like complete rubbish.

Again, we’re all different and our levels of what we can and can’t cope with vary. If your new mum friends seem to be doing it all, great!

If your biggest accomplishment today was getting dressed and having a walk, equally, you’re doing just great!

Take it easy and try not to have any huge expectations of what parenting should and shouldn't be. It simply is. And you’ll find your new normal in time as you navigate each day with your new baby. 

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