|I was really hoping that the exhaustion that plagued me all
through my pregnancy would ease once the baby was born. But
I had completely underestimated how tiring broken nights and
breastfeeding would be. I really can’t see any light
at the end of the tunnel, and I feel a bit desperate. When
can I hope to start feeling better?
Maybe it will help to hear that you are not alone. Your
body has gone through immense changes in the last few months,
and the birth process takes time to recover from. The trouble
is that having a small baby who hasn’t yet worked
out what the nights are for, and for whom you need to manufacture
all the nutritional needs, makes the recovery process slow
and tiring. You know all that. So this advice will sound
familiar to you, because it echoes what was said about pregnancy.
You have to learn to accept that you are NOT superwoman.
You have probably had a successful career up till now, and
have learnt to work hard and be self reliant. Well, now
you have a whole new set of skills to learn. The first is
called ‘asking for help’. You are probably cringing
at the thought. So take yourself in hand, and find a way
to accept that you do need help. Remind yourself that this
is for the good of your baby and your marriage, as well
as your own emotional and physical well being!
So remind yourself of all the people who offered to help.
Mostly you will find that they really do want to be of assistance.
Think carefully about tasks you could delegate. Perhaps
your mother could do your weekly shopping if you give her
a list. That is a tiring and thankless job that someone
else could easily do. Or if you prefer, perhaps your mother
could have the baby for a couple of hours per week so that
you can get some chores done. Then when baby returns tired,
the two of you could take a nap together, and you could
rest peaceful in the smug knowledge of all you have achieved
while baby was out. The point is that you need to get creative,
and figure out what help you need the most. Perhaps you
need to scrape together the cash for a bit more help around
the house. There is nothing like the relief of a house which
is, for the moment, both tidy and clean! One idea that is
gaining popularity is to have a night nurse, even if it’s
only for a couple of nights a week. You will have to be
organized with the feeding, and decide if you will supplement
in this case, or try and express enough milk for these odd
feeds. The advantage of this scenario is that not only do
you get a really good rest but also by morning you will
have an abundance of milk to greet your baby with. This
is especially helpful if you are finding that the exhaustion
affects your milk supply.
You may need to discuss with your spouse the fact that
you need more help. Many women find it difficult to ask
for help from someone who has just returned from a hard
day at work, and who, in all likelihood, finds it hard to
imagine what it is that you do all day that makes you so
tired. The time for selfishness is now. Perhaps it can be
as simple as letting him take the baby out for a stroll
when he gets home. This gives you half an hour to get organized
for the evening, so that when baby goes to sleep, mom is
ready to follow suite immediately and so capitalise on all
the rest you can get!
Things will improve. The baby will start to sleep. Your
body will adjust to making milk for the baby. For now, just
take one day at a time and be proud of how well you are
coping. And remember to ask for help!