Motherhood – especially when you have a newborn - is the most wonderful, confusing, overwhelming, joyful and vulnerable time of your life and it is safe to say you really don’t know what to brace yourself for. But that’s okay – nobody does.
Newborn babies unfortunately do not come with their own manual (shouldn’t they?) so we have put together some top tips from new mums who’ve been there, done that and got the stretch marks.
1. Keep your list
Keep your list of potential baby names - someday your child will be fascinated about what they were almost called.
2. Don't over spend
You do not need to have everything bought and on standby for your new bundle of joy before they arrive. Just cover yourself for the first few weeks and go from there. Baby steps – literally.
Practice operating and folding up your elaborate pram/buggy contraption before the baby arrives. Trust us on this one.
4. Don't chuck the clothes
You will want to burn your maternity clothes the minute you have had your baby. Try your best to resist - you will need them for the first few weeks after the baby arrives because… hormones. All you will want is comfort, not tight clothing.
Milk helps with heartburn.
6. Invest in a thermal mug
Now is the time in your life to invest in a thermal mug. This is an essential and life-changing purchase and will avoid the inevitable situation of not managing to drink a hot cup of tea or coffee for a while.
7. Cherish it
When you are nearing breaking point coming to the end of your pregnancy and you just want this baby OUT, try to cherish it because someday you will miss being pregnant, life feels weird for a while without the bump.
8. Prepare to wait
When you’re going to the hospital, be prepared that things might not happen straight away. Bring an eye mask so you can get as much sleep as possible before (and after) the main event.
9. Tears are ok
Be prepared for a tsunami of tears on day two or three. It’s normal - cry out all those hormones.
However, if this continues in an extreme way and you feel something really isn’t right with your mood or you can’t shake the baby blues, it is important that you speak to someone straight away. The earlier you get professional help the better. Go to see your GP, tell them how you are feeling and they will be able to recommend someone for you and tell you what your next steps should be.
10. One step at a time
You will feel overwhelmed a lot in the first few days and weeks. Just take it one step at a time – 15 minutes at a step if you need to - and remember you are a mother now, and as we all know, mothers are invincible. You’ve got this.
11. Nobody has it all figured out
Something essential to remember: No one is ever really as together as they seem. That aura of confidence that looks like activewear that matches the baby’s pram is more than likely masking the usual flap every mother find themselves in most of the time.
12. Be strict with visitors
Be honest and straight when it comes to visitors in the early days. Your emotions and tiredness levels will be running high and that is a time when nobody needs visitors unannounced. Put yourself first.
13. Accept help
When you do get visitors – hand them the baby and take a shower. Or have a cuppa in a quiet room on your own. The visitor will adore time alone with the baby and will be delighted to help - and most importantly, you can have a shower or cup of coffee in peace without any Mom Guilt and imagining you hear the baby crying every 4 seconds. Everybody wins.
14. Carry spares
Always carry a spare babygro and vest.
The baby will, at some stage, roar non-stop in the back of the car while you are driving. Do your very best to stay calm until it is safe to pull over. They will get used to the car eventually but if you happen to burst into tears of frustration in the meantime, that’s okay too. Just make sure you’ve pulled over first.
16. Don't panic
Remember that babies do not have any concept of time. Try not to panic when three hours after their last feed your baby is still fast asleep. Unless you are physically not feeding a baby when it wants to be fed, they are not going to starve. Relax, go with the flow and do yourself a favour – do not wake a happily snoozing baby.
17. Get support
Motherhood can become lonely after the visitors stop calling to see the new bundle of joy and especially if your partner goes back to work. It is so important to get out of the house whenever you can and get the support you need - meet a friend for coffee or get yourself to a local parent and baby group. I know, I know, you are not the type to go to one of 'those kind' of groups. Trust me, everyone else there thought that too, and are thankful they did. Being around people who feel your pain and are dealing with the same challenges is highly therapeutic and reassures you that you are doing just fine.
18. It takes a village
It takes a village to raise a child and family/friend contact and support is important. Even if your mother-in-law drives you around the bend, she means well and will be more than happy to take your little bundle of joy off your hands so you can have a nap, or a shower or just to use the toilet in peace.
19. Trust your instincts
Trust your maternal instincts. If you think something is wrong or something seems a bit "off" with your little one, get them checked out. Don’t let anyone talk you out of it or tell you you’re being silly, no doctor’s appointment is ever wasted, even when that means all is fine - it's about your peace of mind.
20. Don't stress about mess
Try not to stress about the state of your house. You will suddenly find there are things everywhere - miniature clothing, toys, gifts, bottles, etc and it can all get a bit much. If a cleaner is within your budget, go for it. If not, a family member might help you out, but otherwise just leave it.
In the grand scheme of things, it’s not important. Your house will not always look like this - your time with your newborn is precious so do not sacrifice it for mopping the floor or organising the cupboards. These things will get done.
21. Let them make their own fun
As they grow, allow your child to fill their own day with fun. You don’t always have to be as close to them as humanly possible, pulling faces and making them laugh. Sometimes it is good for them to watch the dog chase his tail outside the patio door or watch the shapes the sunlight makes on the walls in awe.
22. Print photos
Print photos as you go or you will have a cloud full of photos that you will never get round to framing. Also, phones break and go missing, and to lose all those early memories at once would be devastating.
23. Keep night feeds dark and quiet
In the middle of the night, if your little one wakes and you have to feed or change, try your best to keep everything quiet and dark. Too many interruptions during the night will get them in the habit of waking which is the last thing you want. Get a lamp with a dimmer in the room you feed in, keeping them in a sleepy and relaxed state.
Remember, you're a mum now. You are much more invincible than you think. You've got this.