Best pieces of advice I was given as a new mum
We have a new baby in the family! My brother became a father a little over three weeks ago when he and his partner had a little girl. A new baby in the family has made me think back to when the boys were tiny and all the pieces of advice I was given as a new mother. Some of it wasn't very helpful and some of it was! Below are some tips for mums with newborns from mums I know and some which I have gathered along my parenting journey
- The most important piece of advice I was given is to trust your instinct. Health professionals know a lot about babies in general but you know a lot about one baby. Your baby. This has got to be the single biggest piece of advice I can give, it is the hardest to do. As a new mum you need reassurance that you are doing everything right - well at least I did. If I had listened to my gut more I would have ended up in exactly the same place but a lot quicker and with less heart ache.
- If you are feeling stressed take five minutes out to get some perspective, don't beat yourself up remember we are all human.
- Try to avoid competition with other mums. If like me you joined NCT classes some of these ladies (all if you are lucky) will be great friends for life. But it’s easy to get drawn into comparing your new-born with that of your friends. Don't forget all babies develop at different rates. It is not a competition, take a step back and enjoy it. Also by the time you are on number two you are wishing for them to slow down.
- Try and take it all in, even those long, lonely nights. It sometimes feels like you need to fight through to get to a new milestone-sleeping through, weaning, walking, even just the next day! But when you look back to those precious new-born nights hearing every little whimper when they just want you to hold them for hours on end, will have gone in a flash. Don't wish it away.
- Don’t worry about what you think parenthood should be - instead embrace what it is.
- Be organised - Even if it was just picking out clothes and making sure the change bag was ready the evening before. It meant no faff in the mornings or trying to remember everything whilst getting baby ready. Which made leaving the house so much easier.
- Forget about the housework, to be honest I still have that attitude now. The most important thing is spending time with your baby and family. You don't ever get these days back. The kids won't remember if your house is clean but they will remember that brilliant game you played, story you read or adventure you went on.
- Try not to get obsessed with sleep patterns and getting baby to sleep through the night. I must admit I am a lot more relaxed about this element of new-born life second time round.
- Put in a routine - albeit a relaxed one that works well for you and your other commitments. A simple bedtime and nap time routine can make like a lot easier and stop you pulling your hair out. For example, Monkey would always nap around the same sort of time but it didn't necessarily need to be in his cot. Otherwise I would have become house bound.
- Try and keep track of when baby eats, sleeps, has a wet or dirty nappy and as he gets older is alert or wanting to interact. It will give you an idea of their natural routine and help you to spot patterns when something isn't right or bothering him. By having it all written down it will give you the confidence/evidence to back up your gut instinct. One of the things which may be upsetting is nappy rash, it can be very common in the early days and really upset their routine. Use a nappy rash cream such as Bepanthen which protects against the causes of nappy rash and is perfect for use at every nappy change – especially at bedtime.
- Stock up on low prep food in the fridge for you. We were given a COOK voucher when Kipper was born and I must admit it’s a great present for those early days.
- In the early new-born days, if your baby is unsettled then a spot of skin to skin always helps. I remember when my eldest was a couple of weeks old and suddenly her latch was totally off, we were both getting distressed and I was panicking. My husband took her while I calmed down, then I sat with her in the nude for a whole evening. It really helped to reset the balance and it's a lovely bonding thing too.
- It’s important to get out in the early days, even if it’s just a walk to the shops.
- It’s okay to take the help offered, and if it’s not readily offered then ask! If you get a house visitor make sure they help as well as getting newborn cuddles. It’s a fair trade off and will make your life easier and will definitely not make you look like a bad mother.
- Staying with that idea you do not need to be Super Woman. Sometimes glossy magazines can paint a very different picture to reality. Its okay to stay in your PJs all day, to baby gaze, to cry, don't put pressure on yourself. All our journeys are different and above all enjoy those cuddles and sleep when you can.
I wish I had been told all of these when I was expecting or just after I had Monkey. It would have made my life a lot less stressful and I wouldn't have tried to live up to other expectations.