Becoming a mom for the first time is an incredible feeling, but it can also feel completely overwhelming. No matter how much preparation and research you do during your pregnancy, you will still feel stressed and anxious along with an unparalleled amount of joy – it is a strange feeling! Every parent feels unprepared initially, and this is perfectly understandable, but you will quickly learn on the fly, and there is a lot of helpful advice readily available either online or from more experienced parents. Unfortunately, there is also a lot of not so helpful advice out there and you, of course, only want the best for your new baby. With this in mind, here are a few insightful and helpful tips for new mums embarking on one of life’s greatest journeys:
You can practice all you want during pregnancy, but it is quite different when you are faced with a crying baby kicking and screaming! There is a lot of helpful advice on how to change diapers online, and it is something that, like it or not, you will get plenty of practice at. If your baby has delicate skin, be sure to change their nappy as soon as they have wet themselves and only use high-quality diapers.
Every new parent’s fear is a baby that never stops crying but remember that this is something that babies are supposed to do! Crying is the only way that a newborn can communicate that they need care or comfort, so do not panic and remember that it is challenging to work out what they need. The most common reasons are hunger, a dirty diaper, boredom, overstimulation, needing a cuddle, wind, tiredness or being too hot/cold – easy to figure out, right!? Tips for soothing a crying baby include letting them suckle at your breast or giving them a dummy, holding them closely and gently sway them whilst talking/singing, rocking them back and forth in a pram, giving them something to look at/play with and gentle massages. If the crying is constant or it doesn’t sound like their regular cry, they could be ill so a trip to the doctors could be in order.
You can say goodbye to your sleeping schedule as newborns (unfortunately) aren’t aware of the whole day and night pattern! Babies tend to sleep for just two or three hours at a time, and they will be sure to let you know once they wake up. One of the reasons is that they have small stomachs, so they need feeding little amounts on a regular basis. As they grow, they will need fewer night feeds, but you can encourage healthy sleeping habits early on by teaching them the difference between night and day (lots of light and sound in the day, low levels of light and keeping quiet at night) and by creating a bedtime routine. Your baby should sleep in the same room as you for the first six months, and you should aim to sleep when they do.
Being a Mom is a full-time job, and it is likely to be all that you can think about initially. This is understandable, and it is important that you are there for your newborn, but equally, it is vital that you get a little “me time” each day and look after yourself. With this in mind, take any opportunity that you can to relax, make yourself some good food or get some fresh air. If somebody offers to help, say yes and take a short break – this can do wonders for your mental health, and it can be good to have some separation for both you and the baby. All good mums need a support network that they can rely on whether it is a partner, parent, sibling, friend or neighbor, so do not be afraid of reaching out for help when you need it.
Nothing can prepare you for life as a new mom, but hopefully, the above advice will prove to be valuable and alleviate some concerns. It is important to remember that it will be a chaotic period and you will make mistakes, but this is fine and all part of the learning curve to become Super Mom!
Trust Your Instincts
Firstly, it is important to trust your new motherly instincts. You are sure to be bombarded with advice from everyone you see and, although well intentioned, this can quickly become frustrating and particularly when you consider that no child is the same. Therefore, always go with your gut – it is fine to make mistakes, and you will quickly learn what does and what does not work for your bundle of joy. If you do want advice, listen to those whose opinions you value, medical professionals, people who have had a child within the last two years and informed resources online (like this blog!).
Breastfeeding can feel strange initially, but be sure to feed your little one as often as they need, and you will quickly get into a pattern. In the first few days, it will take both of you time to get the hang of it, but lots of skin-to-skin contact can be helpful, and this is an important bonding experience. Antenatal classes during your pregnancy are immensely helpful and will cover all the important aspects of breastfeeding, including common issues that mothers find early on.
Breastfeeding your baby every time they need feeding simply isn’t an option for the majority, and this is fine. For times where you cannot be there, your milk supply dries up; there are latching issues or anything similar, you will want to introduce formula which contains all of the nutrients that your child needs. It can take some time for them to switch, but when you choose the best formula for breastfed babies and introduce it slowly, it should not be too challenging. Timing is important, and there should be at least three weeks before offering formula, and it should be given when they are hungry and in a good mood.