As excited as I was about being a mum, I was also very nervous about meeting my baby as I wasn’t sure I would know what to do! In the days running up to my due date I suddenly realised that as much reading as I had done on being pregnant and what to expect with that, I hadn’t actually read up on what came next! I was busy being a teacher and then busy organising my house for the new baby, but all of a sudden my due date was upon me and I knew nothing! I quickly got googling, but before I knew it (ok, well 2 weeks later!!) my little boy had arrived! There is a variety of advice available, but these are my top 10 things I learnt about a new baby:
- You know best. You will learn all the different noises and cries, and if you want to then welcome advice from others. But just remember, at the end of the day people will give you conflicting advice, it is your baby so feel free to do it your way!
- All babies are different. I am noticing this one more and more as they get older. My friends baby was born the exact same day (two hours later) than my boy. They are now doing completely different things; my boy is now crawling and trying to walk, but her baby is waving and clapping! Neither is “behind” they are just doing what they are more interested in first! Same when they are very small! They will do things their own way! Try not to compare or panic!
- A routine in the early days/weeks (in my case months) is not essential. I am not a routine try of person I am discovering! In the early days if you try and force a strict routine and don’t allow yourself to leave it, you will go mad! Those first few weeks baby is learning what day and night is! I’m not saying you should never do a routine, and feel free to introduce one when you’re ready, but make sure baby is ready too! If they still think the middle of the night is the middle of the day, you won’t get far! I’m fond of ‘vague routines’ so things we do, like bath before bed. The timing, however, is a lot more flexible!
- They will poo on you at some point. Whether that is in the bath (happened to a friend and also my husband; seriously I could barely help for laughing!) or when you’re changing them (for me it was 10 days after he was born, went all over my nightie, compression stockings, arms, legs, bed, changing mat, babies clothes; my husband could barely help for laughing!)
- You will worry. Having all this responsibility is massive, and something you have to adjust to. I can’t imagine anyone going home and thinking – yeah, whatever, I’ve got this! I worried about driving him home, about taking him out in his pram, about whether that was a normal breathing pattern, about if he was just asleep. You name it, I worried about it! You hit the baby blues too, and this just amplifies things. Baby blues should only last a couple of weeks, at your 6 week check if you are still struggling, then please tell your GP.
- Sleep deprivation is hideous torture. Once your baby has settled a bit, they will begin to test your ability to function on as little sleep as possible (if you do have a miracle baby that has never caused you any sleep issues, then just don’t be smug!) I found working out a game plan with my husband helped; it does start to feel you two verses them, but just laugh about that (or else you may cry!) We had nights of having a couple of hours sleep each, literally taking it in turns being downstairs with our boy! We had nights where he would only sleep on us, not in his cot or anywhere else. They will test you, and once it is better (and it will get better, I promise!) they will remind you of those days periodically when they are full of cold and you will have to remember what strategies you did before!!
- Laughter is the best medicine! Having a baby is a big change, and you will not get it right first time! It is a learning journey, it’s a new role you have to learn and the induction process is pretty full on! Laugh as often and as much as you can! Babies are funny! Laugh with your partner, laughter will release endorphins (or “dolphins” as a very witty professor of mine used to say!) into your brain and make you feel happier! Sometimes I would laugh for ages at essentially nothing……did I mention the sleep deprivation?! Best of all, when you are ready, begin to find some mummy friends you can laugh with!
- It’s okay to say no to visitors. Just because they want to come, does not mean they HAVE to come round. Take your time to adjust to being a new little family! You will be tired and having people around for hours and hours is not what you need. My lovely neighbours put a card through the door instead of ringing the bell, they had made us a meal which was in Tupperware outside the front door. It was amazing, and so so helpful! This is the best kind of “guest” in the beginning!! I’m not saying don’t have anyone, if there are family members who want to come and be helpful for an hour and you want to see them, then by all means! Just allow yourself some time to just be!
- You will have bought things you don’t need! The nesting phase at the end of pregnancy is just mind boggling! And boy, don’t advertising agencies know this! You are pumped full of hormones and just want what is best for your baby! We’ve all been there, thinking “this will make it all easier”, but nothing actually does! I bought a nappy bin, well, my husband did! It has been useful at times, particularly when my mobility was poor, but as time has gone on and my mobility has increased, this is an item I really probably didn’t need!! The funniest one is one of my mummy friends nearly bought a wipe warmer at the end of her pregnancy! She laughs about that now!! I didn’t even know they existed! Laugh with your mummy friends about these things!
- Your life will never be the same again. It just won’t. The longest days, the shortest nights, the messiest house, the crying (you and them!), the fuzzy mummy brain, the list goes one. But you would not change it for the world! For every down there is an up, and they are sky high I promise you. The first smile, the little feet, the first giggle, the cuddles, the baby smell, the list also goes on!! This little being is just a whole new world, and the world you thought you knew is just changed and you can see it a completely different way. Enjoy the journey, enjoy each other. Each day is such a precious gift!
What did you learn about having a new baby? What advice would you pass on? Is there something you couldn’t have done without? What would have made your life easier knowing before?