Christmas survival with a newborn
If you have a baby due this year, it’s likely you’ll have a newborn in your arms for Christmas.
What a great gift for you! And while it will be amazing to cuddle your baby on their first ever Christmas Day, it’s also the type of day that can end up being overwhelming in ordinary circumstances, let alone for a mum with a new baby. All those heightened emotions and the obligatory socialising – not to mention the people lining up to hold your baby – can make for a stressful time.
Here’s how to survive Christmas this year with less festive stress and more baby bliss …
1. You call the shots this year
This Christmas will be different for you in terms of what you feel up for and what you’re able to manage. You’re the one with the newborn, so it’s up to you to decide what Christmas arrangements work best for your family.
If you want people to come to you instead of going to them, say so. Likewise, if it would suit you to get out for a Christmas breakfast rather than a late lunch, it’s your call. Make the day revolve around you and how you’ll best cope with your baby’s needs.
2. Are you up for travel?
Families are spread all over the place these days, which means that Christmas get-togethers can involve some travel time. Driving or flying with a newborn might be something you feel comfortable with, but if you don’t, put it out there. There are lots of newborns who are happily mobile and will snooze the journey away, but there’s also babies that will protest very loudly during a long trip. If you’ve never had the pleasure of driving with a screaming newborn before, believe me when I tell you that it’s hell on wheels.
3. Have some rules ready
Having a newborn means you’ll have relatives clamouring for a cuddle on Christmas Day. How you feel about this is probably worth thinking about in advance.
Would you prefer people washed their hands before holding your baby? How long will you feel comfortable for your baby to be held by someone for? Are you prepared for your baby to be passed around from person to person? Chat with your partner about your expectations and agree on a plan for how you want things to go. Don’t be made to feel like you’re being ‘hysterical’ either: do what feels right for you and your baby.
4. Feeding time
Whichever way you plan to feed your baby, it can take some getting used to. Breastfeeding in particular can feel awkward and fiddly in those first few weeks, so think about whether you’d be more comfortable feeding in a quiet room, away from noisy and boisterous conversation.
And don’t forget that you have to eat, too. Plan to feed your baby before lunch is served, so that you can enjoy some nourishment knowing your baby is full and content.
5. Beware the baby experts
With all those relatives and extra people around, beware the baby experts who want to tell you how it was in their day! Anyone who has ever had a kid will tell you what they think they know about baby settling, feeding and sleeping, and chances are, it will be completely different from what you’re planning to do.
My advice is to thank them for their input and change the subject. The last thing you need is a debate about leaving your baby to cry and being made to feel like you’re doing the wrong thing.
6. When baby needs a break
All those cuddles from different people with different smells and voices can be too much for a tiny person. Watch your baby for cues that they’ve had enough stimulation, and make your excuses to escape somewhere quiet together. Some time in a dim-lit room where you can cuddle and feed in peace should help baby resettle and will probably help calm your nerves a bit as well.
7. When you need a break
Everyone’s emotions are a bit heightened at Christmas time, so don’t be surprised if you feel a bit teary or irritable yourself. You’ve just had a baby, so your body is still in recovery from birth and your hormones won’t have settled. On top of this, it’s unlikely you’ve slept much since your baby arrived, making you especially prone to upset. Add these factors to a busy, draining Christmas day and it’s probable that you’ll feel in need of a break at some point, too.
If this means leaving the celebrations early this year, go for it. Having a new baby gives you the perfect excuse to escape from social situations when you need to.
8. Don’t stress this year
Christmas is a wonderful time of year but it can also be a stressful time. Shopping for gifts, battling the crowds, and trying to keep your family members happy can really sap the joy from the holiday season. When you’ve got a newborn, you’ve got enough on your plate, so make the decision to take it easy this year. Buy your loved ones vouchers online instead of shopping around for the ideal gift. Be the guest not the host, and have people tend to your needs this year.
Make this one all about you and your baby. And enjoy those cuddles!
This article was created by Karina Lane for Kidpsot.com.au and has been adapted for Kidspot.co.nz