3 common challenges in the Early Postnatal Period

The first 3 months (or 4th Trimester) with baby can be a roller coaster ride of experiences and emotions. You are learning to be a parent and baby is learning what the world outside the womb is all about.  It is all new and this can lead to numerable challenges. The good news is these challenges are normal and it can be very reassuring to know, you're not the only one experiencing them.

3 Common Challenges in the Early Postnatal Period

1. Sleep deprivation

This could be considered the biggest challenge as it affects almost every aspect of your being: physically, physiologically, emotionally, mentally. You may come across well-meaning pithy advice such as 'sleep when the baby sleeps'. Of course getting as much sleep as you can through out the rest of the day is going to counter-act the lack you're getting through the night, however, for many and varied reasons, this is not always an option.

So the next biggest thing to help with sleep deprivation is to review your expectations around your baby's sleep.

Normal sleep for a baby within the first 3 months can be small naps, or long stretches and all at random times through out the day and night.  Many sleep issues for parents in the first few weeks and months are created from the myths associated with how a baby 'should' sleep.

2. Trying to get back to 'normal' 

It is very natural to want to anchor yourself to something familiar when everything at this time may seem chaotic and overwhelming. This can cause a struggle however as a new baby has no 'normal'. It's bit like fitting a round peg into a square hole. Many parents believe they can change their peg (baby) to fit the hole (life).  This may be more likely after the first 3 months but before then, a better strategy is to take some time to adjust to a 'new normal' and create a shape of your life that now has a baby in it.

Cocooning, or enjoying a 'babymoon' as much as you are able in those first 3 months is of great benefit- to both you and baby.  This period is a time of rest, recovery and of building a relationship. No, you don't have to get out of the house (unless you want to), you don't have to see visitors (unless you want to AND make sure they contribute to the household chores while they are there!) and you don't even have to get up and get dressed, if you don't want to.

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You are getting used to being a new parent as well as recovering from trauma and your baby is learning about the world- they are learning to breathe! There is no pressure needed to do anything other than be. Be with baby. Enjoy.

3. Not knowing what is 'right'

Being a new parent is a huge responsibility and new parents are naturally driven to do what is 'right' with their baby. Babies don't come with an instruction manual and there are many books or apps out there suggesting they are as close to one as can be, written by people with 'expert' status, claiming they have the answers.

The truth is... you are the expert in your baby.

Unfortunately, the sleep deprivation and parenting adjustment of the third trimester doesn't leave much room for feeling like an expert. You're too busy feeling tired, overwhelmed, and sweaty.

But you are. And along with all else you are feeling, dig deep and you will feel what is right. It is important to understand what is 'normal' baby behaviour as it will be clearer then to know what to do with your baby.

*Normal babies and other stuff is covered in the Newborn Mothers course

If you're not sure about anything, there is no harm in asking.  Be interested in what others around you with babies are experiencing, listen to what opinions others are sharing, compare this to what you know to be normal and THEN decide from there, what feels right for you and your baby.