Tips for a first-time mum: What I wish I was told
As you may have read in my previous posts, I haven’t found motherhood to be particularly smooth sailing. There are no instructions and you’re confronted with so much conflicting advice. But I found a few things that definitely worked for me, tips that I wish I was told:
When preparing for the arrival of your new little baby, you will be inundated with hundreds of baby products – most of which you don’t need, nor will you use. Don’t fall to the advertising campaigns and simply go for what is practical. Here are my top four:
- Cloth Nappies (KMART): use for feeding, changing, …basically every minute of the day! Babies are messy so take them with you wherever you go.
- Zip onesies: so easy and so practical. Trust me, I loved to dress my newborn in beautiful stylish clothes, but reality is, the second you change them into an outfit you spent a fortune on, they will vomit on it or poo through it. Then by the time you get around to washing it, it probably won’t fit them anymore. Zip onesies are the best for day to day wear and allow you to change bub in record speed. My favourite pick? Bonds wondersuits by far.
- Angelcare baby monitor with sensor pads: if you worry about the small things like me, this is the monitor for you. When my first child arrived, when she slept I felt the need to check on her – meaning even less sleep for me. The Angelcare baby monitor will set off an alarm if your baby stops breathing, giving you peace of mind and allowing you to relax when you need to.
- Sleeping bags: I could never swaddle my baby properly no matter how hard I tried, so a zip up sleeping bag for bub was a saviour. Each of my children would wriggle their way out of any muslin wrap I had or their startle reflex (yes this is a thing!) would undo all my attempts at swaddling. Check out ‘Love to Dream’ Baby sleep bags – they aid with self settling and prevent a baby from waking because of the ever so annoying startle reflex.
The best thing I ever did for my children was put them on a routine where we all knew what time to sleep and feed. When my daughter was born I struggled with a lot of aspects of parenthood. As someone who lived in a world of structure and organisation before babies, my world quickly imploded into one with no sleep, mess and chaos. Developing a routine that worked for us was necessary, for my sanity and for my children to learn to develop sound sleeping habits. For them, it worked – they slept better because they were no longer over-tired and they knew what to expect. Of course, be prepared that a routine can go out the window some days (and that’s perfectly ok!). Don’t be afraid to ask family and friends to work around your routine – after all you’re the one that has to get up in the middle of the night or tend to an over-tired, agitated baby. You and baby come first – to be blunt, everyone else can work around it (whether they like it or not).
Check out Tizzie Halls ‘Save Our Sleep’ for advice on developing a routine.
It’s ok to say no. I had a very different approach to visitors when my second baby arrived. Don’t get me wrong I am very grateful for everyone’s support (and would be lost without it) but when you have your first baby, the smallest of tasks can become overwhelming. If you’re tired and emotional (and you will be – it’s all part of it) it’s more than ok to say no to visitors. They will understand (and if they don’t they aren’t worth having around). It’s also more than ok to ask them to help if they do visit (do the dishes, bring a meal etc) It’s not selfish – it’s practical. Family and friends are more than willing to lend a hand too, so don’t be afraid to ask.
SET SMALL GOALS
Set daily goals and celebrate the ones you achieve. From going to the toilet as soon as you need to, instead of getting to 3pm and thinking ‘omg I STILL haven’t peed!!’, to having a shower or getting out of your pj’s and brushing your hair. In those first few months as a new mum, if you accomplish these each day you are killing it! Ensure you acknowledge what you have done, not what you haven’t and you will feel a hell of a lot better.
EVERYTHING. Your relationships, your sex life, your daily activities, your body, your conversations, how you leave the house… all of it! Be prepared for change but don’t worry about it. The first few months are tough but you will soon find a new way of doing things and a new way of ‘life’. I love catching up with my girlfriends to chat about birth stories, pregnancy cravings, how my son ate bird poo off the trampoline when I wasn’t looking for 2 seconds (ohhhhh it happens!) or trying to find ‘couple time’ with your partner after a long day of dealing with ‘threenanger’ tantrums, endless piles of washing and newborn nappy explosions. I wouldn’t have it any other way. Embrace it because even though it’s crazy and chaotic, it truly is the best.
You need to teach your baby how to sleep, how to resettle and the difference between day and night. It all takes time so don’t beat yourself up if and when what you are doing isn’t working. Babies need comfort and security (…don’t we all?) so aim to go with the flow if you need to. Keep the room dark and quiet at night (No TV etc.) to help with the process.
I was shocked when my milk ‘came in’ a few days after bringing my first baby into the world (what the hell were these giant painful bricks on my chest where my boobs used to be?!) The hard truth? They hurt, they are uncomfortable and they will never be the same. Have some cold packs to help with the pain and some warm heat packs to help with milk let down – don’t worry it all settles down. Take it as it comes and talk to your health nurse. They are there to help.
I can’t stress this one enough. Ditch the guilt, get out of the house on your own when you can and be you. Happy Mum = happy baby, so make it happen. Yes, you will be exhausted, but when you find time for yourself, to exercise, to go shopping (even if it is grocery shopping), to have a shower on your own, you will feel rejuvenated and refreshed. Don’t forget about you.
YOU’RE IN IT TOGETHER
You don’t have to do it all on your own. You and your partner are in it together so support each other. Tag team so you can each get some much needed sleep, do your fair share around the house (when you can) and don’t stress when it all doesn’t fall into place. Be there for each other and enjoy developing your new, blessed, busy way of life.
This is what I wish I knew before I became a mum. What do you wish you knew? Join in the conversation!
If you’re interested, read more of Sarah’s posts here