You and your partner created your baby together, brought her home together and had a blissful (albeit tiring) first few weeks together. But now your other half’s back at work, and you’re feeling out of your depth. “A new baby can be exhausting, particularly when dad’s not there and you’re the one on call,” says birth and postnatal doula, Lucy Symons (www.lucysymons.squarespace.com). “Suddenly you feel very alone, but there are things you can do to ease into it.”
“Leaving the house regularly is vital,” says Lucy. “The fresh air boosts your energy and you’ll have much needed contact with other adults.” A simple walk is ideal. Try and do this everyday, even if it’s just for 10 minutes, as it’ll build your confidence for going out on bigger trips with your baby.
“It’s common to worry more about your baby when you’re the only one looking after her,” reassures Lucy. “But remember, sometimes babies just cry when there’s nothing wrong, and as time goes on you’ll learn when there’s something’s up,” Learn to trust your instincts and in time you’ll discover that you know your baby so much better than you first thought.
With no partner around during the day, who do you turn to when there’s a newborn niggle you can’t handle? Your health visitor will see you a couple of times from birth to around eight weeks, and has heard everything you want to ask before, so don’t be shy. And don’t forget to make contact with mums you met in antenatal classes. They’ll be going through what you are and will be dying to share woes, info and laughs.
Don’t run the risk of feeling drowned by chores now you’re the head of the house. “Leave anything you really don’t need to do,” says Lucy. “As long as you and your baby are both happy and healthy, everything else can wait.” Accept offers of help, too. If granny wants to pop round and polish, hand her the duster.
Take care of you
“Be sure to understand your own needs,” says Lucy. “If you’re run down, it’ll make looking after your baby more tiring. This can be as simple as making sure you have a shower every day. Choose a time when your baby’s changed, fed and happy, and pop her in the car seat in the bathroom while you get your me minutes.”
Listen to everyone when they say sleep when your baby sleeps, and when your partner’s there to take over baby duties, whip up some home-cooked food for the freezer so you’ve got nutritious easy meals to eat when you’re home alone.
3 ways to beat the solo blues
1. Get online. Visit our forum and chat to other mums who’ve been there, done that.
2. Find a café. Take a walk down your high street to find baby-friendly places for a coffee. Knowing you’re welcome to sit and breastfeed will give you loads more confidence to get out. Find local cafes in our Neighbourhood section.
3. Join the gang. Check out your local paper and Neighbourhood for baby and toddler groups to help you (and your baby) meet new friends.
“When my husband James went back to work two weeks after Evie was born, I was surprised how difficult it was to find the time to do simple things for myself like brushing my teeth and getting dressed. Eventually, I started pacing myself to do things when I was ready, and I slowly built up my confidence.”
Carys Drew from Aberystwyth, mum to Evie, 9 weeks