WHEN Roselyn Oketcho gave birth, her mother visited for a week and helped take care of both mother and baby. However, when her visit came to an end, Roselynâ€™s mother suggested that they went up-country together where she would take care of mother and baby until the end of her maternity leave. Roselyn turned the offer down saying: â€œMum, since you managed to raise three babies by yourself, please give me the opportunity to experience these first days with my baby,â€ she pleaded. However, not long afterward, Roselyn discovered that being a first-time mother was not a walk in the park. After a week, she was so overwhelmed with parenting that she packed her bags and joined her mother up-country.
Flavia Baguma another first time mother, recently narrated to me a similar experience. â€œAfter giving birth I was alone in hospital, I didnâ€™t know what to do not even breastfeeding my baby. When it came to bathing, I feared the most, how could I put the little thing in water!â€ confessed Baguma.
Yes, just like Baguma and I, many first-time mothers, find the first few weeks of parenting overwhelming.
But according to Flora Kisembo, a senior midwife, one of the key things you can do to make those first weeks after birth less stressful is to engage a support system. â€œHaving a medical person, someone who has been through it or even just someone to listen while you talk about how tired you are, the sleepless nights you are suffering can make all the difference,â€ explains Kisembo
Kisembo also reminds mothers that amidst the overwhelming chores of the newborn, you must take care of yourself. â€œYou are no good to your baby if you are starving, sleep-deprived and stressed outâ€. In the last weeks before the birth, Kisembo advises that you try to rest and conserve as much energy as you can. â€œOnce the baby arrives, do everything necessary to take care of it but spare some time to rest,â€ she says.
Hereâ€™s who you should include in your team:
Make the most of your spouse
Kisembo explains your husband is called your partner for a reason; you are a team in parenting. So involve him and let him help with tasks like ironing baby clothes. â€œThe most important thing in relationships dealing with the stress of a new baby is communication. if there is something you want your husband to do, then ask hi,â€ says Kisembo.
Breast-feeding does not come naturally. The good news is that there are people out there willing to help you. For example, midwives or health workers. All you have to do is to list and pin their numbers somewhere and call them if need arises.
WELCOME YOUR mum or mother-in-lawâ€™S HELP
Your mother has been through motherhood before. Whether you are best friends or have a tricky relationship, involving her is better than not at all.
Let her help with chores like preparing meals. Besides, it will make her feel that she has a special part to play in her grandchildâ€™s life.
Joyce Bamwiine, a mother to four-month-old Alpha says: â€œMy mother in-law cooked for us in the first weeks after Alpha was born. She made sure I ate on time and this helped me relax and take care of the baby Alpha without the stress of cookingâ€.
Bring your â€œalready mumâ€ friend on board
Shirley Achan, mother to Ryan now nine months old says, â€œMy next door neighbour whom I had never closely associated with before became my good friend when Ryan was born. Since she had children, she was always on hand to advise me.â€ Keeping in touch with your â€˜already mumâ€™ friends will help you go through the stressful first weeks after your baby is born.
A medical worker
Find a medical person you can trust with the health of your baby because infections and colds are common. Whenever, you have an appointment take a list of questions and ask them because a medical workers role is to provide you with information and support.
You need a support team, babies have no manuals