When babies cry, moms are instantly on alert. "Why is he crying?" "What does he need?" It can be frustrating especially when he easily cries at the slightest movement or sound -- and won't stop.
For family counselor and mom of three Diana Eidelman, a baby's crying sounded like the sirens of five ambulances. It made her feel like she wasn't a good mom; after all, good moms don't have babies who cry so much, right? She felt other women were doing a better job. "The confident women I used to be dissipated and disappeared, and I couldn't recognize myself," she shared in a TEDTalk.
Culling from her personal experience and her 15 years of talking with new moms and families, Eidelman shared what makes it so challenging for new moms to adjust to their "new normal" after birth.
1. You can never really prepare for child care. New moms may have researched about baby care and read tons of books or online articles. But all that can easily go out of the window when you've got a bawling baby in your hands for the first time. And each baby is unique, so one technique might work with your first baby, but not with your second. Experience is the best teacher when it comes to parenting.
2. Adults and babies have a conflict of interests. Eidelman makes a good point when she said the following: Adults come home to rest and relax, but home means play for babies. "Home is the womb, and in the womb, they're doing somersaults, and they had rippling water. So for them, coming home is about movement, and experimenting with their environment, and getting their brains wired through motion," Eidelman explains.
3. A baby can overwhelm the mind. You can talk to your newborn, but he obviously can't talk back. And you have to wait a few more months before you get a verbal response. So new moms spend much of their time in their head. "We spend about 60,000 to 90,000 thoughts a day," Eidelman explained. Those thoughts can be anywhere from the amount of laundry waiting for you to the changes you dislike in your body. It's hard to swat away the negative thoughts because, as Eidelman puts it, "You don't feel like yourself."
4. Parenting offers no definitive measures of achievement. As a parent, you are "working harder than we've ever worked our entire life," says Eidelman. No days off, no pay, no evaluations -- there is no manual to follow. It's up to you to determine what's best, and that is daunting. For women who are used to doing things well, it could result in feelings of helplessness.
Motherhood is exhausting, but understanding and accepting the above can help you find relief. Eidelman suggests changing your perspective and approach, beginning with your baby's crying, by applying G.I.F.T., an acronym Eidelman gave for the following tips for moms:
Go! "Get moving, dance with your baby, move around. Your child expects movement... and you will release endorphins, and you will be happier," Eidelman explained.
Inhale (and exhale).When you hear your baby crying, breathe and calm down. "Our bodies are the nest in which our babies brains get wired, in which their bodies develop."
Feed! And it's directed at you, new mom. Babies constantly feed, and they will need you a lot, so you're going to need energy. "You need nutritious food to carry you on for the first few months," Eidelman says.
Touch."When you touch your baby, you will feel your oxytocin level rising, and you'll feel so much more love," Eidelman said. Through touch, a child learns about his body and most importantly that he is loved.
Eidelman sums it up nicely for new moms: "Our bodies are [our babies'] interactive bridge into the environment, into their exploration of the world. Through our bodies, our babies learn on their own until they can ultimately can crawl, walk, and [soar]." Our babies may need us 24/7 now, but they grow up so fast. Let's us make the best memories out of it.
Diana Eidelman, who is also the author of the book, Preparing for Parenthood, been has been involved in many parenting education projects, including creating programs to help balance and bridge the gap between work and home. Watch her full TEDtalk here.