Before I gave birth for the first time, I imagined that maternity leave would be heaven. I thought I would be able to cuddle with my baby in front of the TV while watching all the shows I’ve been wanting to see. I imagined going out, pushing my baby in the pram with music playing in the background and butterflies fluttering all around… lol

In all seriousness, I had a very idyllic view of what life with a newborn would be like.

The reality hit me like a wet cloth to the face.

Your day gets broken down into 2 or 3-hour segments (roughly):

  • Your newborn needs to feed every 2 to 3 hours. That will take up at least 20 minutes of your time. If you’re breastfeeding, it may well take up to an hour or longer.
  • You need to burp your baby after feeding, which can take another 20 minutes or so. And if your baby has reflux, you need to keep them upright for at least 30 minutes after feeding.
  • Usually, your baby will fall asleep at this point. This will allow you to clean and sterilise all the bottles and sundries. This can take another 10 to 20 minutes.
  • If you are expressing milk it will take another 20 to 40 minutes.

Rinse and repeat every 3 hours for probably the first 3 months of your baby’s life.

If you have been keeping track of the timings, at the minimum you will be busy for an hour every 3 hours with your baby. But realistically, you are more likely to be busy for at least 2 hours every 3-hour cycle.

That leaves you with an hour to yourself (if you’re lucky) and you have your pick of these luxurious choices on how to spend that hour:

  • Take a shower or
  • Eat or
  • Sleep

Because, and this is important, the 3-hour cycle continues the whole day. THE WHOLE DAY. It doesn’t conveniently stop at night when you want to sleep.

And believe me, there is nothing quite as debilitating as having your sleep constantly interrupted.

Yes, it’s worth it. Yes, other people can and do help. But at the end of the day most of the responsibility rests on the shoulders of the mother. That is how nature designed us.

But don’t lose hope, because nature also designed us to cope with this stressful time in our lives.

Us women are superheroes and don’t you forget it!

Click here for a handy list of newborn clothing sizes from favourite SA shops.


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