When I thought I had seen it all in the maternity labor ward, there was still more to motherhood than just pushing.
After being discharged with my newborn, I realized that life would force me to attend a parenting class involuntarily.
I believe you can relate to my experiences, mama, but if you haven’t;
Wait until you step into your house and the newborn can’t keep calm because of colic. And, when you think you’ve figured out the best remedy for colic, constipating comes knocking.
I mean challenges after challenges.
You try and solve each parental problem as it comes, but along the way, you find that you’ve sunk into baby blues, and the only thing you’re gulping for is help, help, and help.
In fact, this is how you may look on a typical day with a newborn baby;
- Uncombed hair
- Moving around in oversized dresses, probably the ones you wore while pregnant
- Baby stuff all over the living room— forget about the clean freak thing you’ve been bragging about
- A few milk stains on your dress around the nipple.
Here’s an assurance.
You are okay, mama, and nothing is wrong with what you’ve become. Only that, with a new baby, there is so much to take care of, and adjusting is the key.
But how do you adjust to motherhood?
I believe getting the key tools to help you, maneuver, through your daily challenges will ease the parental stress.
There is nothing as bad as not having a clue on how to go about a certain issue, yet you’re almost certain that it can occur and reoccur.
With that long introduction
Here are a few must-have skills I term as parental tools that you may need to help maneuver in your parental journey with infants.
1. Basic Massaging skill
Preparation for delivery does not only involve shopping for physical products, but you also need to prepare emotionally and, if possible, enroll in motherhood classes for baby handling basic skills.
Basic massage is a skill you will need as early as even the first week after delivery. From improved sleep to easing constipation and enhancing a better bond between you and your newborn, baby massage has much to offer.
So, why should you learn basic baby massage skills?
Massaging your baby, especially after a warm bath, is crucial for the following reasons;
- It’s a relaxation therapy that may help your baby sleep longer
- Massage strokes mechanically help do the job of peristalsis, which is to move excess air or food in the baby’s bowel. And by so doing, you get to reduce the severity of colic and constipation in infants.
- Massaging can also help in strengthening the gut walls of a newborn. Tummy massaging your baby encourages blood flow and nutrients to the gut, thus strengthening the muscles and making the peristalsis process efficient.
- It has a way of soothing babies and reducing fussiness
- It’s an excellent way of bonding with your baby.
The most common baby messages are full body massage for overall relaxation and tummy massage for colic and constipation-related issues.
As simple as it may look, learning the basics of how to tummy massage your newborn can help improve their health and general well-being.
But first, you must understand the alignment of the baby bowel. That is why getting someone to teach the essential touch points on the baby’s body is crucial. Learning the massage skills will help you identify the correct places to touch for the best outcome.
How do you do baby massage?
Basic baby massage is quite simple and can take less than 10 minutes.
You may do a full body massage after warm baths to help stretch your baby’s legs and feet. After childbirth, you may notice that your baby likes to stay coiled as though they are still in the womb.
You need to assist them in getting accustomed to the outside freedom by gently straightening their legs and hands. Your baby’s legs will straighten out within six to 12 months.
Also, you will need to tummy massage your baby by simply placing warm hands on their tummy at or below the belly button —using your fingers, gently stroke downward, moving everything in a clockwise direction.
This is a small area, but massaging the baby’s tummy is important for gut development and bowel movement
Related: 12 Ways To Prepare for Delivery in Your Final Trimester
2. Basic First–Aid Skills for Common Baby Accidents
While praying and hoping for a smooth life, there is nothing wrong with making provision for the “what-if… situations”.
Babies and toddlers are prone to accidents. And as such, learning a few basics of common accidents in children like choking, burns or falling can be a lifesaving factor.
First–aid skills are essential when it comes to emergencies. Besides having identified and possibly saved the lifesaving contacts of the hospital of your choice or an ambulance, you also need to equip yourself with knowledge about the basics you can offer during the waiting time.
And that is where equipping yourself with basic first–aid skills comes in handy.
What Is the importance of learning first aid?
Knowledge about first aid can help save a life. For instance, simple knowledge like knowing how to deal with a baby who has a high fever can help prevent convulsions before reaching the hospital.
Likewise, a parent attending first aid classes can correctly identify environmental risks and deal with them appropriately. For example, you can identify unsafe spots that pose risks to your children and correct the mistake upfront.
Here are examples of common accidents for children under 3 years
- Choking: Newborns are prone to choking, and so are those over six months, especially when introducing solid foods. Sometimes trying out a new food texture can become hazardous to a baby. Learning some basics of first-aid can go a great way in managing such cases.
- Burns and Scalds: Burns are also common with kids, especially when they start crawling or moving around. Be it fire or hot drinks, they are all horrible. That is why knowing what to do before rushing the baby to the hospital can help reduce the severity of the injury and ease some pain.
- Head Injuries: I believe you understand how often toddlers bang their heads. Be it a slight excitement or anger, It’s almost certain that it will end with a bang. While most of their falling or bangs are nothing serious, there may be a time when the accident can cause considerable damage or pain to the head. In fact, some bangs can be so severe as to injure the scalp or cause bleeding.
Here are a few symptoms that need immediate medical intervention;
- Your baby falls and loses consciousness
- Your baby won’t stop crying
- If the accident happens at night, be sure to keep an eye while they are sleeping lest they become unconscious in their sleep
- complains of head and neck pain
- developing of fever
- Projectory vomiting
- Your baby doesn’t walk normally
If you notice any of these signs in a baby who has fallen, dial the emergency numbers or rush them to a hospital where they can get a proper diagnosis.
But before then, you need to understand how to deal with an injured baby to prevent worsening the situation. And that is where I suggest heading to the Redcross Website and enrolling for free basic first aid skills for common injuries in babies.
3. Basic Reflexology Skill
Have you ever dealt with a colicky baby? The crying and grunting before passing the gas is something you wouldn’t wish on your enemy.
That is why I advocate for reflexology skills.
Reflexology is a therapy that relieves pain by exerting pressure on specific points of your body.
These outer body parts, like the feet and hands, are believed to correspond with internal organs responsible for the particular discomfort. And by exerting pressure on these contact points, you relieve the baby of your stress and pain in the subsequent.
Like a baby massage, learning the basics of reflexology will help in the following areas;
- Your touch on specific points may stimulate pain-relieving hormones and endorphins, which can help in soothing and baby relaxation
- Reflexology therapy is effective in relieving colic and constipation in babies. By touching the corresponding internal body parts relating to digestion, your baby can get quick relief from pains associated with developing gastric walls.
- It can promote calmness, making your infant feel secure and comfortable.
- If your baby struggles with short sleep, reflexology may be your best bait in enhancing a deeper and restful sleep.
The best part about reflexology therapy is that you can do it on babies from birth. But you must learn the correct points to touch before you begin; otherwise, it will not work.
You don’t have to be a professional with certification; just the basics to take you or your baby from point A to B is enough.
Why don’t you head to YouTube and learn a little bit of reflexology today before becoming a mother? I am sure your little one will enjoy it when they finally arrive.
4. Enhance Your Multitasking Ability
Multitasking is a skill you will need to get more accomplished within a short time.
The 30 min baby napping time means a lot in a mother’s world. You need to shower, prepare a meal or even clean the house.
That is where multitasking comes in handy.
With multitasking ability, you may work on two jobs simultaneously. The ability to tackle more than one job can make you feel accomplished, thus increasing your motivation and productivity.
The best way to conquer multitasking is to stay organized. Other tips that may help you to multitask better include;
- Have a to-do list; write down what you want to accomplish in the order of priority. Keeping a list of stuff and tasks you need to accomplish in a day helps you not to forget.
- Work sequentially; ensure you plan which tasks must come first and follow that sequence. Working sequentially enhances your productivity by ensuring that you focus on one or related tasks to completion. Otherwise, you may end up with so many unfinished businesses.
- Limit distractions; for you to multitask successfully, you need a little bit of self-discipline; otherwise, you may mess up a big deal. Keep off your distractors like your phone or television while working. This ensures maximum concentration and speedy delivery.
- Identify and label your free time; Identifying your free time can help you plan ahead and even leave some room for rest. Intuitively moms know how to make use of the limited time. For example, have you ever thought about how you accomplish so much in about 10 minutes?
- Make some me-time: Motherhood can be exhausting sometimes. After a long day with a baby, you need to draw back for energy replenishment. This can be an evening session for reading, exercising, or walking around. Allocating time for yourself can be an excellent motivation, especially if you’re looking forward to an interesting activity.
5. Sharpen Your Maternal Intuitive Capabilities
Intuition is a faculty of the mind sometimes known as the sixth sense. It mainly manifests in decision-making without analytical reasoning.
For example, you just can’t explain why you choose to take a particular action or route over the other, only that your feeling is telling you to do so.
Most, if not all, women get these gut feelings before making decisions about their kids.
According to experts, maternal instincts or intuition is the innate knowledge and set of care-giving behaviors that are an automatic part of becoming and being a mother.
It makes you sensitive to particular baby cues.
While some women have a strong gut feeling and can almost guess right about a specific issue concerning their babies, others have to wrestle with the feeling before making the decision.
Lack of sensitivity to your maternal instinct can occur due to staying in an environment that believes in analytical and logical reasoning, anxiety, or mental instabilities like depression.
Is it just anxiety?
Sometimes it can be difficult to differentiate whether the still voice results from anxiety or a real gut feeling.
You should thus, become aware of your anxiety feelings before relying on your inner voice to make a decision. And the best way to deal with anxiety is to become aware of yourself through practicing meditation.
Meditation will help empty your worries and align your thinking to your goals. Also, you may need to seek a second opinion from a trusted person if you suspect your decision could result from anxiety and not intuition.
What is the importance of enhancing your intuitive capabilities?
The guesswork in motherhood is just too much. That is why maternal instincts are crucial when dealing with babies.
Right from when they can’t communicate, they rely on your judgment to make perfect decisions concerning what they want.
You must guess right when your baby is sick. You must get it right when they are uncomfortable with a particular environment or people.
Enhancing your maternal instincts will help ease anxiety and help in better decision-making without relying on evidence, more so when they can’t communicate verbally.
How to enhance your intuitive capabilities
There’re various practices you can embrace to enhance your intuition, these include;
- Meditation; intuitive messages tend to be quiet, and spending some time alone in an enclosed environment can help you listen better to still voices from inside. Solitude is the best route to self-awareness. Shutting other people’s voices concerning your baby can help you learn about the uniqueness and challenges your baby is facing without comparing.
- Get knowledgeable; Intuition does not operate as a lone ranger, but it sometimes comes as answers to the questions you’ve been asking. Getting to know a little about how babies function, or the happening in your surroundings, can be a better way of collaborating with this faculty of your mind to infer solutions.
- Learn to recognize when your intuition speaks; factors like anxiety and fear often get in the way of maternal instinct, and as such, you may base your decision on fear and not guts. Learning how your intuition speaks is essential because it manifests differently with different people.
Some people get visual images, while some rely on hunches or thoughts. Likewise, intuition can speak through physical senses like goose bumps, a feeling of relief, uneasiness or peace.
Wherever it may happen, it’s best to understand yourself to know when and how it occurs.
6. Learn Your Baby Language
A mother is the only person allowed to speak and respond to the unknown language without being labelled as a mad person.
And with that license, you may learn as much as possible about your baby’s language right from when they are still in the womb.
What is a baby’s first form of communication?
Crying is the baby’s first form of communication. Immediately after delivery, babies cry to signal that their respiratory system is making a successful transition to stay independent from the inside life.
And the journey to growth and development in their communication will continue as they achieve different milestones.
From a simple smile of appreciation to throwing legs in the air or maintaining eye contact, these gestures can say so much about your baby. However, the burden of observing, interpreting, and responding, solely lies with the parent.
How do you speak to newborns?
Talking and responding to your baby enhances their development and communication skills.
Learn to engage your baby through simple talks as though you are communicating with someone who understands you. You can sing, babble, or coo to imitate your baby’s response.
Narrate your daily activities to get them into the systems. Feeding times, baths or tummy times are the most precious moment to mingle with your child.
Learning your newborn’s communication can help strengthen the bond with your baby.
Pay attention to how they respond to your voice. Learn to differentiate their crying tones. Sometimes you can tell if your baby is crying because of hunger, pain or sweat and thus needs to be undressed.
Related: 7 Unwritten Baby Routines That Sustained My Sanity In the First 3 Months After Childbirth
7. Nurture Your Patience
Have you ever heard a parent questioning their kids about why they are testing their patience?
Well, the answer is simple; because they are parents.
The dictionary defines patience as the capacity to accept and tolerate whatever you deem undesirable. It can be your child’s behaviour like being forgetful or overactive.
As a teacher and a guardian, patience is a must-have virtue.
You will be dealing with people with different levels of maturity. As such, you must adjust your mind to accommodate your kids regardless of their actions and responsiveness to life.
Patient enables you to develop a positive attitude toward the people around you. Be it yourself, your spouse, your kids, or your nanny; you need the patience to accept challenges, solve them rationally and enjoy life.
It takes time and effort to alter a personality, but you will have to with motherhood.
After all, everyone knows you can not assist a rose petal in unfolding without altering the structure. Similarly, you can not force your child to be something instantly. Trust the process, mama, and you will be there with patience.
8. Get Some Basic Teaching Skills
Parents are the first teachers in the life of a child. As you mingle daily with your newborn, they tend to pick so much from the environment.
From cognitive to social skills, emotional well-being, and even physical skills, a mother is the lead teacher in an early child’s life.
As such, you need to acquire the essential qualities of an excellent teacher. So you become the letter to be read, heard, and emulated by your child.
Do not assume anything, mama. Good things do not just grow from nowhere. There must be a cultivator, and that’s your role in your child’s life.
Before becoming a parent, please learn some basics of communication skills, especially for people whose intellectual development does not march yours.
Active listening, adaptability, and child engagement skills shouldn’t be foreign to you, especially when your baby is about two years old and actively learning from their environment.
As a teacher, you must understand that every child carries unlimited potential. And they are looking up-to you to create an enabling environment for nurturing their potential.
Learn to accept your child’s uniqueness instead of resenting it. Do not compare your kids against each other, as doing so creates unhealthy competition that can be a source of envy and sibling rivalry.
If you do not like anything, just correct it.
As a mother, try lying the unshakable foundation through installing virtues in your kids.
Learn to connect and nurture your child’s mental health by encouraging and praising their efforts in solving daily challenges. This will create a strong family bond and help build the self-esteem necessary for success.
9. Social Skills for Building Relationships
Excellent social skill enhances the way you relate with people around you. As a mother, improving your social skills will translate to better communication and engagement with your family.
Likewise, you learn to calmly identify and share your parental struggles without victimizing or blaming anyone, including yourself.
Leaning and enhancing your social skills is essential for the following benefits;
- You become an excellent communicator; you learn the patient to listen and deal with the little one at their level.
- You may enhance the quality of life– getting along with people, especially your kids, creates more happiness
- You become more efficient– learning to relate to and control young kids is not easy. Sometimes you yell for no apparent reason. Developing your social skills makes it easy to differentiate their reasoning ability from an adult’s; thus, you can judge them according to their level of understanding. As a result, you may maintain a good relationship with people who matter to you most.
How do you learn social skills?
- Practice active listening
- Engage more with others; do not lock yourself in your world but be receptive to other people’s opinions and perceptions.
- Offer genuine compliments
- Learn to appreciate other people’s efforts
Learning the basics of social skills will improve your relationship with your family, friends and society.
And do you know?
These relationships will boost your happiness because the magic of life lies in these little efforts.
Related: 10 Common Issues You May Experience In Your First 6 Weeks After childbirth
10. Strengthen Your Firewall- with Stress Management Skills
Have you ever heard of postnatal depression?
Well, it all begins with stress.
Motherhood can be challenging, especially if you have more than one kid. Stress management skills will help you de clutter and diverge your energy to the thing that matters most.
With stress management skills, your mind and body can learn to adapt to changes and challenges as they arise, thus minimizing the possibility of developing stress-related health problems.
There are several ways you can deal with parental stress. These include;
- Plan your day to avoid overworking or channeling your energy on less important factors. Sometimes we become stressed when we are drained from the day’s happening. This can leave us with no time for our families, which is unhealthy.
- If you are working, try not to carry over work-related issues at home. You may try emptying your problems by talking about them to a friend or colleague before leaving the office. This will help you come home with an open mind to relax with your kids.
- Use guided meditation to destruct your mind from daily stress.
- Maintain physical exercise- physical exercise can help relieve stress by reducing stress hormones and increasing the production of endorphins—these brain chemicals aid in reducing pain and making you relaxed.
- Create fun opportunities- sometimes, finding time to hang around with kids can be a good strategy to relieve stress. Try finding activities that make you happy and do with your kids. This can be sporting, storytelling or evening walks. Creating fun time will enhance your bond, help you understand your children’s likes, and give you ample re-energizing time.
- Ask for help when you need it; Are you having too much to chew? Learn to as for help. Sometimes overworking and getting too tired can make us angry and resentful. If you have anyone who can assist in taking care of kids or household chores, please do not hesitate to reach out.
- Learn to Connect with fellow parents; Relating with other parents, especially those with kids in the same age group, can help you understand that you are not alone in this; kids come with lots of responsibilities, and yours are no exception.
- Practice therapeutically writing; Make it a habit of journaling before going to bed. Writing a recap of your daily events can help declutter your mind. It also forces you to reflect deeply on your feelings, your kid’s behaviour, and general challenges. Record keeping is a great history keeper, especially when you want accountability. You can infer what is working and what is not working for improvement purposes.
Learning how to manage stress is a skill that every mother needs. Not only does it help you to relate well with others, but it also allows you to enjoy parenting while loving yourself.
Motherhood is not a joke. It is a whole journey that one needs to be equipped with the necessary tools before setting a foot out. The better part, however, is there is no perfection in it. play your part and leave the rest to God.
That is my take. What about you?
Please let me know your thoughts about this post in the comment section and do not forget to share. Cheers to motherhood life!