It’s a life-changing event having a baby but unfortunately, they don’t come with an instruction manual. While you can read through parenting books for some tips, here’s some advice I shared with a friend who recently had her first child. Plus, there are additional pieces of advice from my readers for first-time mums.
1. The first twelve weeks can be a struggle
My friend Sarah emailed me when my daughter was a couple of weeks old and shared her experience. (Her son was born a few months before). These are her exact words; “Reena, being a mum is great but the first 3 weeks suck, the next three weeks are up and down sucking and not sucking, then 6-8 weeks gets better and 8-12 weeks the best so far!” Her advice helped so much to get through the first twelve weeks.
2. Your body will ache
No matter if you’ve had a natural birth or caesarean, things hurt. You’ve just had a baby! It’s a huge feat and one that might come with stitches, pains, aching breasts and other bodily functions that you just don’t expect. Give yourself plenty of time to recover from birth.
3. Hormones can be a bitch.
Your emotions will be all over the place. So if you find yourself crying, then laughing then sobbing, don’t worry it’s normal. However, if you have feelings of sadness or anxiety beyond the normal “baby blues”, you may be experiencing postnatal depression and you need to seek professional help from your doctor or baby health nurse.
4. Not sleeping is a challenge
I can fully understand why sleep deprivation is used as a torture technique. Make sure you sleep when the baby sleeps. If your baby doesn’t sleep, don’t be afraid to speak to a Baby Health Nurse, Tresillian Hotline or a sleep consultant.
5. Plan ahead for food
Make easy, simple and nutritious meals. My slow cooker was a lifesaver. I could throw food in there and 8 hours later there was a meal on the table. Or if you’re really organised, go on a cooking frenzy before baby comes and freeze dishes. Also, if you can’t make it out to the supermarket, order groceries online and get them delivered.
6. You don’t need to look like a goddess
Yes, there are some women who look fantastic after having a baby and in the months that follow. And then there are women like me who didn’t look or feel so fantastic. I just felt tired in my post-baby body. Ignore celebrities and their speedy return to their pre-baby figures. They have a housekeeper, cleaner, personal trainer, cook and a nanny or two. That’s why they look so good. Just aim for small wins like a shower or getting out of the house once in a while. And don’t worry about losing the baby weight. There’s plenty of time to regain your figure and there are local mums and bubs fitness programs available when you’re ready.
7. Take whatever help you can get
If friends or family like your mother-in-law offer to cook food, clean your house or babysit, take advantage of their kindness, Don’ t try to do it all yourself. No one expects you to be a Supermum.
8. It’s alright to feel overwhelmed
I admit that I was and there are lots of other mums who feel the same way. A baby is a complete adjustment. I remember asking my husband if he could stay home with our new baby so I could go back to work full-time because at least there, I knew what I was doing. Remember if you feel overwhelmed, speak to someone like your partner, friends or a baby health nurse. There are even helplines where you can share your feelings.
9. Remember everyone’s experience is different.
I struggled through the first few months yet my friend loved it. Don’t judge yourself against other mums. Also, remember every child is different. I couldn’t understand why my baby wouldn’t sleep for long during the day. I thought I was doing something wrong. It turned out that was just her personality. She was awake most of the day and slept like a log at night. Still does.
10. Find other mums with babies
It can be very isolating at home with a new baby especially if you were formerly working outside the home. I really missed adult company. It was fantastic meeting my mothers group as we could meet up, chat and swap advice. I recommend finding a mothers group or getting out to mum and bub activities like Baby Book Time at the libraries or join a playgroup.
Remember there are loads of suggestions of things to do with babies on Newy with Kids. I’ve also put together a list of help and support resources for parents. Whether you need help for medical advice, breastfeeding, postnatal depression or any other parenting issue, there’s a range of services available.
Here are some terrific tips from readers of Newy with Kids:
- Cuddle your baby. If they cry cuddle them, if they can’t sleep cuddle them – you can’t spoil a child with love. Get the cuddles in while you can because they grow so unbelievably fast – Amber
- Let people’s advice roll over you like waves. Ride the good & leave the bad. Each baby is unique so somebody’s opinion ‘that will definitely work’ may not for your child. Go with your gut & what feels right for you – Rebecca
- My best advice is to listen to your instinct….usually right, just need to trust it – Di
- Accept help! If someone comes to visit & asks what they can do, don’t be afraid to ask them to help you, fold washing whilst you talk, cook a meal, cuddle the baby while you have a shower. Also, get your fresh food delivered, eat well so you can have the strength & energy to get through each day with a bubba!
- As my wise experienced sister told me, just muddle through. It will get better! – Caitlin
- Mine is – sleep when you can, sit down and enjoy those special cuddles and don’t worry about “keeping up with the Jones” – Val
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In 2012, Reena founded Newy with Kids to share information about family-friendly Newcastle. Originally from Canada, she had no idea about what to do with her toddler and after searching unsuccessfully for a family guide, decided to start her own. Since that time, both the toddler and Newy with Kids have grown keeping Reena busy. If you see her out and about, say hi.