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  Exhausted mother
 
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!

 
   
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