Many first-time moms aren’t even a little bit organised after giving birth - no matter how in control they were during pregnancy. This new chapter brings about all sorts of new challenges, emotions and anxiety.
You may need to leave the house sooner than you think but being out and about alone with a newborn can be daunting, to say the least. But getting some fresh air can do wonders for both mom and baby.
Shannon McLaughlin, founder of Ubuntu Baba, has answered a few questions about the first time she left the house alone with her newborn son and how the fresh air did both of them some good.
Q: When was the first time you took your son out alone after he was born?
A: I went for a walk when he was about 3 weeks old. It was great to be outside again, but it was also a strange feeling having someone else with me! I was so used to him being inside my tummy!
Q: Did you prepare the car seat, stroller, carrier and nappy bag before the time?
A: No, as it was just a short walk. I ventured out into the world very slowly after having my son as I suffered from very high levels of anxiety. I was petrified of going to the shops with him in the pram, in case he started to scream! I didn’t think I’d be able to cope.
Q: Where did you decide to go and why did you pick the location?
A: I decided on a short walk from my house to the beach wearing my son in my stretchy wrap. I didn’t want to venture out too far and knew how much he loved to be snuggled up on my chest. I thought that would keep him happy while I got some exercise and fresh air. The ocean air was really refreshing and calming.
Q: Do you recommend the first outing to be mom-and-baby-time, or to take support such as family or a friend with you?
A: In the very early days and weeks, I think it’s definitely helpful to have someone else around, just in case, but I think this is up to the mom – do what you are comfortable with. If leaving the house alone with your baby makes you feel overwhelmed and scared, then don’t do it! Ask for help and do what feels best for your individual needs. You will outgrow the anxiety as you start getting used to your new life and role as a mother.
Q: How did you mentally prepare for your first outing?
A: I just told myself it was time to get out of the house and that everything would be okay. It was one of the first days that I started to feel a little more 'normal' again after birth, and I think that’s what gave me the confidence to do it.
Q: What were your expectations and were they met?
A: To be honest, after my birth experience and the terrible time I had with breastfeeding, my expectations were not very high at all, so that probably worked in my favour! The walk went well and I felt a lot better after getting some fresh air and getting outside for the first time – alone as a new mom!
Q: What was your favourite memory of that outing?
A: Just smelling the fresh air and hearing and watching the waves break on the shore. Such a simple thing but it brought me so much joy and made me feel like everything was as it should be.
Q: What was the least favourite part of that day?
A: Realising that I had to leave the beach and walk home. Before I would be able to stay, tan and read a book – but I now had a little life to care for, and that little person would be waking up for a feed very soon. So there was a little disappointment but also a happy sense of belonging – like someone needed me and my role was very important.
Q: What are three items that you wouldn’t leave the house without?
A: My number one item will always be a baby carrier! Never go anywhere without it, it makes leaving the house so much easier. Number two would be my cellphone - for cute selfies and just in case you need to call someone for a lift home if things go pear shaped! Number three is a backpack with the basic newborn baby essentials.
Q: Any tips for first-time Moms wanting to take their baby out?
A: Just putting one foot in front of the other is an achievement as a new mom. There’s no need to be super ambitious and go for your first date alone to a coffee shop out in public where all your friends can meet you – just do what feels right for you, and take it one day at a time, you’ll get there!
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