As a single mom, taking care of a newborn can be one of the most difficult tasks to ever encounter. As a new mom, the challenge of taking care of a newborn is not as we imagine during pregnancy. We often think things in a fantasy way, imagining how it will all play out. However, what the past three months have taught me is that taking care of a newborn as a single mom is exhausting and challenging.
If you are pregnant and are about to be a single mom, then this will help you prepare. Let me make it clear that these tips will not be your Robin Hood, but they will help you cope with the challenge of it all.
Already, you have to deal with the challenges that come after giving birth. You are trying to be comfortable in your new postpartum body, and the stress it comes with sometimes. At the same time, there is a baby that is also waiting for you to care for.
In this instance, it will start to sink in that you are now responsible for a whole new life, and that this new life totally depends on you for everything.
I hope these tips can prepare you for how you can care for that precious bundle.
Taking care of a newborn as a single mom
I will always say that everything I have experienced after getting out of the hospital with Evan has seemed way easier. Being a single mom, the hardest patch was seeing my little guy sick right after being born. That was also the time I felt that maybe I was not cut out for the mom role. Yikes.
When my little guy was born, he swallowed up some of the liquid in the womb. Doctors said it was due to the limited space he had inside, mind you, I was five days overdue when I had my c-section. They thought it was not going to cause any issues considering he vomited so much immediately after he was born.
However, he had his BCG vaccine a day after he was born which started a fever. After hours, he had to be taken to the nursery, which was his home for 5 days. In those days, I had to go every two hours to breastfeed. I also had to completely disregard the pain of my wound, until he was fine. To me, that was the most challenging moment of my new single mom‘s life.
Evan is now an infant, so I thought to share how it has worked for me the past three months of his existence.
Stock Up on Supplies
It is important that you stock up on supplies that are very important to you and your new baby. One thing I learned after getting out of the hospital was that I did not want to go anywhere. Also, if you are African, then one of the cultural things you have to abide by is not getting out of the house until the umbilical cord naturally falls off.
Start stocking up during your early pregnancy, that way you do not get overwhelmed as you edge closer to giving birth. Stock up on food, cosmetics, cleaning supplies, laundry supplies etc.
For the baby, some of the things you might need to stock up on are:
- Bottles/ nipples
- Baby books
- Formula (if you intend to introduce it earlier)
- Diapers (different sizes)
- Bathing soap
- Diaper cream etc
Have a Helping Hand
You might decide to hire a nanny to help out with some of the house chores. However, it is also important to ask for a helping hand from those that are close to you.
Till now, I have three friends who know that they are my immediate helping hand in case of anything. Thank you Ai, Thoko, and Ko. My family also knows that in cases of anything, they have to step in.
One of the things I have had to battle is the constant feeling that I need not ask for help because I got myself in this position. The feeling that I am bothering them. If you are a single mom, there will be days like that. However, always know that you need help. If they offer, then allow them to help you as much as you can. You need it.
Trust your Instincts
As a new mom, you might look up to the experienced women around you for almost everything. However, it is important to trust your instinct.
If your gut says your baby is unwell, it is important that you go to a hospital to get checked. It is better safe than sorry. Recently, Evan had difficulty breathing. While everyone around me suggested meds to you, or how to help ease it up, I decided a hospital visit was the safer option.
With the right help, he was fine in no time.
Take care of YOU
Do not neglect yourself because of the baby. If you are emotionally unwell, that vibe can pass down to the baby. Trust me, the baby senses your change in emotion.
I cannot tell you how many times I broke down because of exhaustion, just to end up having a sad child after.
You will not instantly get everything right, just make sure you are taking the day as it comes. Do not exert too much pressure on yourself, this is a new life for both you and the baby. Make sure to talk to someone about how you feel, get it out of your system.
Develop a Schedule
When you were pregnant, you should have noticed that your baby had a sort of schedule. Since my second trimester, I noticed that Evan was the most active in the evening.
From 6 pm was when he would kick the hardest. When he was born, he was still following that schedule. That meant he would sleep through the day and would expect you to play with him at nighttime. I had to break that schedule and get him used to another one.
This will not easy to establish, but it will be essential especially when you need them to sleep through the night. I will soon share I got Evan to sleep through the night.
Do things you Love
One of the reasons I did not go insane is that I made sure to incorporate some of the things I love doing into our schedule. Each time I was free, I would write and edit blog posts just to have a glimpse of my normal life.
I would write a post or two in a week, and that made me feel good. It would relax me, and give me the break that I needed.
I would say, be the same person you were before you became a single mom. But we all know that it is impossible. You just have to incorporate your old life into your new single mom’s life.
Baby’s nap time is also your nap time
Did I stress how exhausting it can be to take care of a newborn as a single mom? Let me say it again, it can tasking and challenging. Without a good schedule in place, you will find yourself worn out pretty soon.
If you only depend on your nighttime sleep, you will find that you are sleeping fewer hours because you have to wake up to feed your baby, do some diaper change, or play.
It is important that you also nap when your baby takes one. That way, you are not sleep-deprived and are more energetic to care for your baby.
Another thing I learned was to nurse (feed) my baby while I was sleeping from the side. That way, I could get in a 20 – 30 minute power nap as Evan fed.
Best not to compare yourself to anyone
Another mistake I would make was comparing myself to other moms. I would end up feeling like I was failing my child.
It is important that you realize that you are on different journeys with other moms. You should not be comparing how they are raising their own babies to how you are doing it. Best you learn from all they are doing and see which aspects of their journey you want to introduce in your life.
That is why at the beginning of this blog post, I made it clear that these tips might not work for you as they have for me. My child and yours are different, with different wants and needs.
As time goes by, you will learn your baby and their cues. That way, you know how to respond to each of their needs appropriately.
Build a support system
Your friends and family are your immediate support system, but sometimes, you will need more. Get yourself into spaces of people like you.
Since I started this blog, I have met some amazing single moms that have been very supportive to me. They have shared their experiences with me, and have pushed me to do more than I already am.
If you can, find some of your own. Also, I am always here if you need me in your corner.
What has been your experience like as a single mom taking care of a newborn. Share in the comment section below.