I remember when the stream of visitors slowed down, the high levels of dopamine dropped and my husband went back to work. It was just me and baby, alone in a big house to get to know each other.
In between changing nappies, feeding, burping, taking photos, feeding again; I had a little (a lot) time to think. 'Unsupervised thinking' is what my good friend and fellow mother has coined those stretches of time during the first few weeks (months). When your mind is free to wonder, critique, panic and generally freak out about new life.
Rest assured that this is totally normal and whilst you may experience differing levels of overthinking, my experience talking to other new parents is universally similar. So let's unpack those feelings a little bit.
There was a time when my son was around 4 months old and a group chat popped up on my phone with a message about the dangers of children choking on food. There was an accompanying video of what to do and some gentle suggestions to watch. I remember the sheer panic that arose in my unsupervised mind as I began to visualise all the potential hazards for my child (who had not even started solids btw). My parent focus is not safety but all of a sudden I was being plagued with the anxieties of someone else. This in turn led to some serious overthinking!
When I came to my senses, I was able to regain control of the situation and reflect on the fact that actually, I can only do my best and focus on the current situation at hand. My child at the time was not moving, not eating solids and was within eyesight at all times. This was NOT a thought pattern I had space for in my brain.
A list of helpful tips to curb unsupervised thinking
Does the thought effect your present situation? If you and your baby have not reached the milestone that is plaguing your brain, let it go. Write it down for later if you wish but move it from your brain, you have no time for it.
Is the relationship important to you? I'm talking about those remarks and comments made by people around you that cause a virtual unsupervised thought-storm in your mind. Do you need them in your ear or can you gently block them until you are stronger (easier said than done for family I know). But trust me, your resilience will bounce back soon enough.
Can you divert your attention? Other than staring at your gorgeous human creation to boost your dopamine levels, can you find something to focus your mind? I host craft workshops for this purpose. When we busy our hands all the noise stops. Yoga, meditation, sleep (ha!); all excellent happy hormone generators.
Put the device down. I had to mute a lot of conversations when I had a newborn. I just didn't have room in my brain to respond to group messages because this led to overthinking responses. We all know that emotion can not be properly conveyed through text. This is a super sensitive point in your life, honour your delicate feelings and take a break.
If you must scroll...I know too well how the socials can be a saviour when you are stuck with a sleeping baby on your chest. It can also act as connection to the outside world in those dark hours of the morning. If you must scroll, add lots of pages that make you smile. Choose cute animals, aesthetically pleasing pictures or funny memes. DON'T get stuck with content that makes you feel sad, cringe or compare yourself. That's no good for anybody, especially a new Mumma.
You are not alone in your unsupervised thinking and even though it's not forever, it really can feel it at the time. Be kind to yourself and remember, you got this Mumma!
*If you are experiencing any thoughts or feelings that are too much for you, there is absolutely no shame in contacting lifeline 13 11 14 or PANDA . They are there to help.