Christmas can be highly stressful and overwhelming to many people. Add your gorgeous newborn baby fresh home from the hospital and it can all fly off the handle. Here follow a few ideas to help smooth over life at this sometimes too frantic time of the year.
My grandmother used to have a saying “The smallest in the house is the biggest master”. As a child I used to laugh at all her funny old English expressions and didn’t know what any of them meant. Having my own children many years later, I then completely understood and could see a lot of truth in those old sayings.
Your experience of Christmas with a new child will be truly a blessing but realistically it will be a totally different experience to how it used to be. Take it all in and enjoy it to the full in a new magical way.
Simplify everything – yes I mean EVERYTHING! If there’s a simpler, less complicated, easier, no fuss, quicker, more straightforward way of doing tasks, go for it! If someone suggests a more streamlined way of doing something, give it a try. You have nothing to lose and may find the idea a lifesaver.
Don’t underestimate the impact of having a new baby in the house. Yes, there is no doubt it is blissful and wonderful and idyllic but once you arrive home, you are HOME and into the thick of everyday life and everyday issues. Be practical.
All to the good if you have people around you who are more than happy to organise the celebrations and make it all happen on the day. If you want to/ feel the need to offer some contribution to the festivities, be certain it is within your current capabilities so you are not stretched beyond your limits. Prepare ahead of time exactly what your contribution will be. Go for simple preparations. Instead, maybe offer to buy some drinks, fresh fruit or commercially made or pre-made treats. Above all, set realistic goals for what you are able to do or commit to do. Ideally on the day itself, you will be left to relax and enjoy the day while focusing on only looking after yourself and your baby.
If Christmas will be at your house – and only you will know if this arrangement suits you better than going out for Christmas – remember that you have just had a baby and that people need to take you – and the house – literally as they find you.
If your day involves going out or travelling for any length of time and you are relying on a breast pump be sure to pack the pump when you pack every- thing else. Before baby came along, you were not accustomed to be carrying a pump around with you. It is a very common occurrence to go out or go on holidays and arrive at your destination to the dreadful realisation that the breast pump is still back at home. More shocking is the drama that ensues if breastfeeding were not to be going so well for some reason and you urgently needed to express some milk. You then find yourself needing to get your hands on a breast pump fast when you may be far from home during a string of public holidays! Not a fun and calming thought!
Plan for simple meals. In our typically hot and dry or hot and humid Australian Summers, aim for meals that don’t require cooking and minimal preparation. Better still, let someone else do the meal preparation at this time, even if it would normally be your job.
Make full use of any labour-saving devices you may have access to such as dishwashers, slow cookers, washing machines, dryers. In the kitchen, use paper plates, cutlery and cups, especially if extra people are in the house visiting. Use takeaway and home delivery as the ultimate convenience food to lighten the load if the need arises.
Most people can learn something valuable from the Scouts. Be prepared for both the expected and the unexpected. Keep all “help” numbers close at hand for potential emergencies. Unexpected sickness and breastfeeding issues can and do happen at all times of the year, sometimes more so at this time of the year.
Holiday periods particularly during the Christmas break in Australia usually amount to extended closures or significantly reduced working hours of many regular health organisations and related businesses. Help can usually be found in some form. However, depending on the nature of help needed, you may find the help you receive after hours and on public holidays may not be the most appropriate type of help. The busy emergency department of a public hospital running on further reduced staff levels after normal business hours is undoubtedly the last place you would hope to find yourself and your newborn baby during the Christmas holidays, namely unresolved breastfeeding issues which have progressed in severity to become an urgent medical issue.
A major component of support for new mothers especially with first time babies is reassurance of normal baby behaviour and this is especially time sensitive in the early days after your baby’s birth. An important tip - if you give birth in the days that fall around Christmas Day – either just before, on the day or just after – chances are high that you will want to go home as soon as possible and the hospital will most likely encourage you to do just that. Be certain if you are discharged at this time that you go home with a list of contact numbers in your baby’s blue book, more critically numbers that are fully reachable until normal services recommence. This may include contact details of home visiting midwives and child health nurses.
Where to find support
Australian Breastfeeding Association (ABA)
A lactation consultant (IBCLC)
Support groups on Facebook or online
https://www.breastfeeding.asn. au/bf-info/safe-when-breastfeeding/ alcohol-and-breastfeeding