It seems like the crying, rocking, feeding, walking-the-floor insanity is going to last forever.

"Baby Boot Camp" aptly describes life with a newborn. New moms are often flustered and bewildered during those early days with a baby. Besides having a body that's getting back to normal, postpartum mothers must deal with fluctuating hormones, extreme fatigue and roller-coaster emotions.

This wasn't what you signed up for! When you bring your baby home from the hospital, however, the rigours of basic training begin. Here are five ways to stay balanced when a new baby rocks your world.

  1. Recognize that your situation is temporary. It seems like the crying, rocking, feeding, walking-the-floor insanity is going to last forever, but it doesn't. Eventually babies sleep, sore nipples heal and your energy returns. The love you have for your little one, however, is permanent!

  2. Re-evaluate your priorities. The priorities of the first six weeks are basic. Rest. Eat. Drink lots of water. And did I say rest? Now is not the time to insist on a spotless house or to dwell on what's going on at work while you are on leave. Your day begins and ends with meeting the needs of a tiny person who is relying on you for survival. As far as anything else is concerned, this is one time in your life when it will be easier to catch up than to keep up.

  3. Relinquish your need to control. When it comes to a newborn, the only thing you can count on is unpredictability. Don't be afraid to admit that you need help. There are lots of people who really mean it when they ask if there is anything they can do. Never turn down gifts of food or offers to babysit. When a friend or a grandmother comes over to help you, let her! Someone else can wash a load of clothes or run the vacuum just as well as you can. Loosen up.

  4. Realize that new relationships are forming. When a new baby arrives, everyone in the family assumes a new role. As these new identities evolve, families are required to make a transition. Patience is a must as you and your husband, as well as your parents and in-laws, adjust to your new name tags. Now you're "Mom." Your mother-in-law is "Grandma." As you step into these new roles, it will take a while to get used to the way they fit.

  5. Remember you are not alone. Every new recruit feels overwhelmed by the demands of motherhood. At the same time, the joy of motherhood is utterly transforming. Be encouraged: You have joined the ranks of billions of women who also experienced these feelings as they began the journey of motherhood. It is a comfort to remember that you are always in the heart of a loving Father who has a plan for both you and your baby. Trust God to guide you through this wonderful season of life.

Rebecca Ingram Powell is a wife, mother of three and the author of Baby Boot Camp: Basic Training for the First Six Weeks of Motherhood.

© 2004 Rebecca Ingram Powell. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

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