Over these first few weeks of having a newborn I have been putting together a list of ‘tips’ for any new parents, from our experiences with both babies.
In no particular order (how X-Factor/Strictly does that sound?!)…
1. It might sound like such a cliché, but embrace every minute of those first few days, ride high on the adrenaline!
2. After the adrenaline, the baby blues will hit. You will cry. For no reason. You may even ‘grieve’ for your time pre-baby and think “what the hell have we done?!” But give it a couple of days and you’ll soon get over it and love parenting.
3. Stare at your baby as much as possible, they are as amazing as you think they are. Just stare. And kiss them. And smell them. Ok I sound like a weirdo now…
4. As lovely as it is to have visitors, limit it to close family for the first few days as it can be so overwhelming. You MUST make the most of those first days as a family unit.
5. Make a note of your visitors/gifts, you will thank yourself later when it comes to sending thank you cards out!
6. Stock up on tea and coffee (and biscuits). You will make lots of it and drink lots of it!
7. Take all the help that is offered to you, don’t try and be supermum, no-one will think any less of you! I am writing this particular ‘tip’ 10 days post-giving birth and am yet to cook a meal, or in fact even venture into the kitchen.
8. Don’t be afraid to do whatever you need to do to get some sleep, as gimicky as it is! Last time he didn’t work for us, but this time round Ewan the bloody dream sheep is a hero! Oh and ‘Sleepyheads’ are as amazing as everyone says they are…
9. It can take a while for a baby to get their days and nights the right way round, do not stress about this just roll with it! Use sleep cues (we use sleepyhead, bathtime etc) and keep it as dark as you can at night. Be ‘normal’ in the day in terms of making noise, if baby is sleeping don’t tiptoe around. They’ll soon start to associate which is which. And the people who say to you “oh my baby slept through from 2 weeks”? F**k them! People have very different perceptions of what ‘sleeping through’ means anyway… just embrace those extra nocturnal cuddles with your little bundle!
10. This is really annoying but, if it is your first then try and ‘sleep when the baby sleeps’, other things can wait! (See Point 17). If you have other children then this might not be possible (unless you can synchronise nap times of course, and then you really are supermum), so as boring as it is then just go to sleep early! I’ve found with both of mine that the first chunk of sleep at night is the longest and then it goes a bit downhill, so if you can get as much of that bit as possible too then it’s a win.
11. When it comes to feeding, shut yourself off from any pressure you feel, it’s most likely coming from yourself anyway! If breast feeding, just get into a little bubble of you and your baby and forget about the outside world, perseverance is key.
12. Get out of the house! If you are physically able, then as soon as possible get you and your baby out into the fresh air. You will most likely get an elderly person tell you that “in my day we stayed inside for 2 weeks”, just smile politely and move on! You will feel so much better for it, trust me.
13. When you do leave the house – expect to take all of its contents with you! I have learnt to over-prepare, always take more nappies and spare outfits than you think you will need.
14. If you have older children then involve them as much as possible with the baby, not only is it lovely for you to have some ‘help’, but it shows them their importance too at a time of huge change.
15. Take shifts. If you are lucky enough to have a partner then use them. Some nights if the baby won’t settle for me then he takes his turn settling her. If I don’t need him then his job is to look after the toddler if she wakes (a pretty cushty job in our house as that is very rare..). You went into this together – teamwork makes the dream work as they say!
16. …this also includes having a bit of time for yourself, even if it’s only half an hour, the same goes for your partner. Plan it in if you need to, just make sure you get a bit of timeout as, let’s be honest, a newborn is pretty demanding!
17. Look after yourself!! Don’t expect to heal overnight, it could be a longer process than expected so don’t rush.
19. Learn to accept that other things, like housework, won’t get done when you want them to. I have had to quickly realise this the second time around, and am trying not to let it bother me that the house desperately needs dusting!!
20. Your baby is a newborn, do not worry about ‘bad habits’!! Feeding to sleep, rocking to sleep, sleeping on you, not being able to put them down – they’re not going to rely on these things when they’re 10 years old so don’t worry!! Whatever it takes to survive the first few weeks/months then do it, it can be changed and worked on in the future! Which leads me onto…
21. Mimic the womb. These babas have had a pretty abrupt change to their environment! Snuggle them tight, make shushing noises, rock them – they all work!
22. Don’t try and plan busy, action-packed days, keep things simple and be realistic that things may change/you may arrive very late…
23. This one might take a bit longer than 30 days but don’t worry about friendships at this stage, relationships with your existing friends may/will change but those that matter will stand the test.
24. Once you’re settled, make the effort to make new mummy friends – choose wisely however, these could be lifelong friends for both you, your menfolk/partner, and your child(ren). You are on the same path at the same time and they will be your support network (mine have helped me compile this list – thanks babes!).
25. A 4-week old baby is not going to be in any routine BUT…there is no harm in you doing it if it fits in with an existing routine or just to start sowing the seed. We bath Daisy and get her into her pyjamas and into bed at ‘bedtime’ at the same time as Lyla, it might not make any difference but it gives the rest of the family some structure.
26. Make sure you drink fluids and eat, the post-baby body can be worked on later. What matters most is your sanity and being hydrated!
27. Trust your instincts. Whether you’re a first time mum or a third-timer – your maternal instincts will be right.
28. It’s impossible not to, but try not to compare yourself to other mums/dads. Remember everyone is different and approaches parenting differently.
29. It’s tough, it’s chaotic, it’s very sleep deprived but everybody makes it through the other side and you will soon forget about it and want time to slow down!
30. …Don’t listen to anyone else and their tips (yes, that includes me), just do it your way, how YOU feel comfortable – wing it, totally wing it! Did you notice most of these points involved the phrase ‘don’t worry’?!
One of my favourite phrases that I always think to myself if I’m feeling unsure or worried is
• MOTHER LIKE NO-ONES JUDGING •
Because even if they are, who cares…
Loads of love and Good Luck!!