I am sure many of you first time mums have, like me, been reading books and websites for any bits of advice on pregnancy, labour and being a new mum! I must admit I enjoy reading the books and getting some practical advice, but as I’ve got closer to the end of the pregnancy I’ve preferred to ask my friends who are already mummys for advice. This is because, as much as the books provide a lot of useful advice, getting a realistic point of view from someone you are close to, who has already been through the first few weeks of motherhood, is going to be a lot more beneficial. It has helped me to feel more prepared (well, as much as you can be) for the unexpected.
I have badgered some of my very good friends and asked for their top tips on how to cope with the first few weeks of motherhood and coping with a newborn baby and all that comes with them!
So a massive thank you to my gorgeous girls who provided this advice and I really hope some of the tips help you on your journey into motherhood:
Victoria – Mummy to Nolan, 3 and Summer, 8 months
- Rest as much as possible! Take advantage of when baby sleeps and have a nap!
- Forget the housework; it can always wait especially if you already have a little one – use that time as time to spend with them.
- Spread visitors out across a few days; everyone will want to see you in the first few days, which is lovely but exhausting. Don’t be afraid to put people off for a few days whilst you (and your hormones!) adjust.
- Don’t put up with pressure from people; I chose not to breastfeed, and that is something that is your decision and yours alone – don’t let people make you feel guilty no matter how much they are telling you “should be doing it”.
- Enjoy every second because before you know it they are 3 years old and starting pre school!!!
Sara – Mummy to Elodie, 3&1/2
- Be gentle with yourself; there will be moments when you feel like you don’t know what you’re doing but, trust me, you’ve got this! Trust your instincts.
- Make sure you check in with yourself, how you’re feeling and coping; a happy mummy makes for a happy baby.
- Breastfeeding can be very hard; I tried using a nipple shield for a while but mostly pumped for 6 weeks and bottle fed and then switched over to formula. I made this decision because I was suffering with a bit of post natal depression and felt very claustrophobic. You need to do what is necessary to enjoy your baby.
- This also comes into play with sleep too; I pumped milk so that my husband could feed the baby whilst I got some sleep.
- It’s such a short amount of time out of a lifetime, they grow so quickly so enjoy all those snuggles and coos.
Amber – Mummy to Reuben, 11 months
- As most people will say, sleep when the baby does – the housework can wait!
- Cook and freeze some meals in the before the birth and in the first week (or get your other half to) as you won’t have much time once you’re in the throes of breastfeeding
- With visitors, we only had family over in the first week as you’ve got so much to get used to as it is, you don’t want to have to be entertaining loads of people too. Don’t be afraid to tell friends you’ll text them when you’re ready for them to come over.
- If you have even the slightest indication you might have mastitis, go to the doctor immediately! I ended up with a painful abscess due to the GP prescribing the wrong antibiotics which had to be drained and resulted in me not being well enough to look after Reuben without the help of my husband, so be firm and get things checked ASAP.
- If you can’t, or decide not to breastfeed, don’t let people put you down. There is a big Breast vs Bottle debate but shouldn’t we just all be doing what’s best for our babies. Everyone has different situations and challenges and mums should support each other no matter how they feed their baby, or any other factors.
- If you end up bottle feeding as I did, look at splitting it with your other half. I used to go to bed at 8pm until midnight whilst my husband had the baby downstairs, then he’d go to bed at midnight and I’d stay downstairs with the baby to sleep so he only woke one of us up, which was especially beneficial when my husband had to go back to work.
- If you have a C Section (I haven’t had one but have looked after ladies who have had operations resulting in similar cuts) when getting out of bed don’t just sit up; roll on your side and use your elbows to push yourself up on. Also have a small pillow or rolled up towel with you incase you sneeze or cough and hold it to your scar for support.
Sam – Mummy to Zack, 2 and Mark 5 months
- If you’re planning on breastfeeding, don’t buy too many nursing bras before your milk has come in, no matter what the lovely people in the shop advise – every one is different. I’d recommend the sleep bra and crop top styles as these are more adaptable to the change in your size in the first few days, as well as nursing vests.
- Don’t be afraid to ask your health visitor and midwife questions or request a couple of extra visits if you feel the need. They aren’t coming out to be nosey, they are there for support and if you feel you aren’t getting enough support or advice speak up and tell them.
- Don’t be afraid to tell visitors when they’ve overstayed their welcome. Some people just get caught up in the moment and excitement and can’t see when it’s time to leave; they won’t mind at all if you politely say you’re tired.
- Don’t feel obligated to immediately answer every well wishers text, Facebook comment or call; they’ll understand a bit of technology silence whilst you adjust to life with your new baby.
- Remember every baby is different; what worked for your mother, mother in law, friend, sister, etc, may have worked for them but that doesn’t mean it will be the same for your baby. Don’t let anyone make you feel bad about this.
- Don’t ever feel like you’re doing a bad job. You are the person who knows your baby best and they already love you so much for it. You’re learning this journey together .
- Don’t ever ignore the symptoms of post natal depression. Speak to your partner, your mum, sisters, friends, midwife or health visitor. Speaking from experience, it helps to let others know how you are feeling and just the simple act of sharing your feelings can lift your spirits.
Chrisey – Mummy to Eva, 2
- Stock up on nipple cream! Lansinoh nipple cream is a must for any mum hoping to breast feed. I found it much more effective than any other nipple cream and you don’t need to wipe it off before feeding.
- Get your visitors in as soon as possible whilst you’re still on a high as any time after day three (when your milk comes in) the tiredness and emotions really start to kick in.
- Listen to all those people who say sleep when the baby sleeps – they are saying it for your benefit and you will need naps to keep you going.
- Accept offers of help; cooking you a meal or hanging the washing out. You don’t need to try and be super mummy, not in the first 6 weeks anyway!
Aimee – Mummy to Isla-Grace, 8 months
- Rather than have people visit you, if you feel up to it, go and visit certain family members that way you can leave when you’ve had enough, otherwise they can tend to outstay their welcome.
- Buy tonnes of black granny pants!!!!!!!!!
- Chat to friends about their breastfeeding experiences if you have any issues. I came close to giving up several times but they really got me through it as they had been through it themselves and gave me lots of advice.
- I would highly recommend a visit to a cranial osteopath for the baby in the first week to realign their body, which can resolve colic, reflux, sleep problems and tension they often get after a long delivery.
- Get your baby checked for tongue tie if you are struggling to breastfeed.
- If your baby cries a lot when you lay them down, there is a chance they may have silent reflux. Try not to lay them completely flat if possible (prop a couple of books under the top feet of the crib/moses basket).
- I highly recommend expressing if you struggle to breastfeed.
- Invest in a white noise app or machine for soothing baby at bed time
- The biggest tip is to be prepared for the guilt motherhood brings! You will always question yourself and feel guilty for anything that doesn’t go to plan. Being a mummy is the hardest but most rewarding job!
- As your mummy friends for advice – they’ll love being able to help and give you some advice, whether you decide to take it or not.
Alice – Mummy to Amelia, 22 months
- Nothing will really prepare you for labour I’m afraid, but you will instantly forget the pain the second you are handed your beautiful baby.
- Having said that, you may recall a bit of pain when you go for your first wee after labour (ouch)! Take a jug of warm water with you to pour over your bits whilst you pee to soothe the discomfort.
- Pack plenty of maternity towels in your hospital bag
- I was a massive “breast is best” girl, but after struggling with it for many days resulting in scabbed, cracked nipples and a hungry, tongue tied baby, I’d say do whatever feels best for you and baby and what you are comfortable with. I felt a lot of pressure from the hospital nurses to breastfeed but Amelia and I were both a lot happier when I switched to formula. There is no harm in buying a tin to keep in your kitchen even if you plan to breastfeed.
- Sleep when the baby sleeps – the washing up can wait!
- Enjoy it – take your time to adapt to this massive life change. Every baby is different and everyone naturally creates their own way of dealing with things.
So there we have it – first hand advice from some lovely mummies who have been a god send to me, answering my many questions during pregnancy! I found it so interesting reading these and getting various points of view. I hope they help you and you can adapt them to your life. Big thanks to my gorgeous girls for their advice and openness, and I will be blogging on some of these particular subjects in the near future.
Take care yummy mummies to be!