From the moment you find out that you’re expecting you spend 9 months trying to prepare yourself for your little bundle of joy. You spend hours researching and reading, to ensure you are going to give your baby the best start and that you feel ready for them to enter the world. But the truth is, nothing can really prepare you for being a new mum and no amount of reading is going to make being a new parent any less scary but there are a few things I wish I had known as a new mum.
- It’s okay to ask for help
Perhaps the most important point in this post. As a new parent I feel that there is so much pressure to do everything by yourself, and do it perfectly. It’s as if we feel that we have a point to prove about being able to cope with the demands and challenges of being a new parent and somehow, asking for or accepting help is admitting defeat. But the truth is, there is nothing to be ashamed of in asking for help; even letting someone do something as simple as cooking you a meal, or doing some laundry for you in the early days can be massive help. The saying ‘it takes a village’ couldn’t be more true and I only wish I had realised this sooner.
- Breastfeeding isn’t as easy as it’s made out to be
I feel like there’s a massive expectation for new mums just to be able to give birth and know exactly how to breastfeed. In antenatal classes the midwife shows you how to do it with a knitted breast and tells you that it’s ‘natural’ and baby will know exactly what to do. Erm, not always true. Breastfeeding is something which you and your baby will need to learn, and it can feel like a full time job in those early days. No one tells you how it’s going to feel like someone hacking at your nipples with a razor blade, how you’re going to be trying to get your baby to latch whilst milk is spraying in 5 different directions, how you might have to try about 15 different positions until you find one which your baby likes to feed in. And professionals definitely don’t tell you that breastfeeding may not work out at all. But whatever shape your breastfeeding journey takes, whether you only breastfeed once and decide it’s not for you, whether you breastfeed for a week, six months, a year.. or not at all, just remember you go mama and please remember that you have not failed!
- Slow down on the visitors, there’s plenty of time
I recently saw someone post a picture on Instagram a message about their baby being due soon and asking people not to message about visiting, instead she would let people know when she was ready. I thought that this was a brilliant idea. When there’s a new arrival, family and friends can be so keen to come rushing round and meet them (which don’t get me wrong, is lovely but it can leave you feeling overwhelmed). I distinctly remember giving birth to Georgie and being in such a rush to introduce him to everyone, but then feeling like we hadn’t had any time to bond, just us, as a family and I got really upset. There will be plenty of days, weeks and months for you to introduce your new little one to the world, so remember to slow down the introductions and take time to bond with your new arrival because those early days are so important.
- You don’t need to spend lots of money on baby clothes
I don’t even want to think about the money which we could have saved if we had known just how few clothes you actually need for a newborn baby! Let’s face it, it’s hard to resist the cute clothes, the little booties and yes, I did feel like my baby needed the same outfit in multiple different colours. But I promise, you do not need a different outfit for each hour of the day. In the early days, you will probably keep your baby in a baby grow for the most part and be prepared for everything to be covered in baby sick. Don’t waste your money, buy the essentials and treat yourself to something nice instead!
- The sleepless nights don’t last forever
The first few months with a newborn are tough, you will probably be getting a maximum of 5 hours of broken sleep a night, in between feeding your baby. Sometimes you might only get 2 hours of sleep (I don’t want to scare you, just prepare you!) And broken sleep is the worst sleep! It’s easy to try and rush through the night, rush feeding your baby, rush winding them and you’ll probably be desperate for them to go back into the crib and back to sleep; but it’s so important to use the time to bond with your baby and realise that this is time which you won’t ever get back. In the early days the lack of sleep makes you so tired, unbelievable tired, the nights can seem to last forever and even once your baby sleeps through the night you continue to be tired for some time, but it doesn’t last forever. I promise.
- Trust your instincts
It is definitely true that Mum’s know best. There’s a reason that we have ‘gut feeling’, it’s been around for hundreds of thousands of years and it’s probably best that you follow it. As a Mum, it’s easy to spend the early days of parenthood (and most of your child’s life, actually) asking google for answers, using facebook groups to ask ‘armchair experts’ questions and for advice on your baby when you’re not sure. But honestly, if you think there is something wrong with your baby then get them checked! And don’t take no for an answer if you’re not convinced by what the first medical professional, health professional or any other person tells you. They don’t always get it right the first time, so keep pushing if you’re not happy. You might feel like a nuisance at the time (which you shouldn’t do by the way), but it’s not worth taking any risks if you’re unsure because it’d be 10x worse to do nothing and later find out that you should have trusted your instinct and done something.
- Children grow up way too quickly
I never believed this until I blinked and my baby wasn’t a baby any more. He’d grown into a full blown toddler, seemingly overnight. When the early newborn days seem to last forever, in between sleepless nights, being covered in baby sick and barely getting a spare moment to eat or drink a cup of tea; it can be really difficult to imagine your child growing up. But then, one day they turn to you in the park and start reeling of words in sentences, and all of a sudden you realise they aren’t little anymore. So please believe me when I say, treasure every single newborn moment, take photo’s, make memories and don’t wish those days away because they’ll be gone before you know it.