Bringing a new baby home is exciting. You have so many dreams: looking forward to their first bath, cuddling for hours on end, visits from family and friends. It truly is one of the best experiences in life. Then doubt creeps in.
Your bundle of joy is fussy and you don’t know what’s wrong. Breastfeeding isn’t going quite the way you expected. And, of course, they aren’t sleeping as well as you’d hoped. You’re exhausted and overwhelmed. What do you do now?
I’ve been lucky enough to witness hundreds of births and visit gazillions of new mums (and dads) at home, and I just want to let you know: You are NOT alone! Every mum wants to do what’s right for her child, but the truth is that babies change so much during their first year that sometimes you don’t know what the right thing is. Believe me, it’s totally normal. But there are a lot of things you can do to make the transition easier.
What are Your Expectations?
Have you ever thought about where expectations come from? You see a magazine with the latest celebrity talking about their “perfect” child. Or maybe you hear other mums talking. Or you get on Facebook and Instagram and see their picture perfect lives. Then, of course, you assume that if they can do it; you can do it too. But here’s what’s wrong with that assumption: They probably aren’t telling all.
I mean, really, who’s going to put their failures on social media? And those celebrities? I’ve worked with several in the past and, the truth is, they are just normal people when it comes to having babies. Their only advantage is that they probably have a lot of help with the hard stuff.
In the months leading up to having a baby, you tend to focus on the “ideal”. You see yourself with tons of energy, out and about, meeting up with friends, with babies that always sleep when you need them to. After all, that’s what you see (or think you see) around you.
Then Reality Sets In
So what do you do when reality doesn’t match your expectations? That’s something we have to deal with in many aspects of our lives, and having a baby is no exception. The truth is you will probably feel exhausted (at least some of the time). You may also feel like you’re on an emotional roller coaster. One second you’re near tears and the next you’re in heaven. You might wake up feeling totally overwhelmed, then you get a good nap (it can happen, I promise) and you’re ready to face the world once again. This is normal.
Just remember, the easier you are on yourself, the better off your body, mind and soul will be. Then, as your baby gets older, your expectations will slowly become your reality. The trick, it seems, is making it through the first few weeks. So here are a few things I’ve learned over the years that can help make the transition as smooth as possible.
Tips to Remember
- Fresh air – aim to get outside every day. You can choose to go for a walk or just sit in the garden. What you do doesn’t matter as much as the fresh air and sunshine.
- Stock up – on healthy and nourishing foods and drink plenty of water. This not only helps with your milk supply, but ensures you have things on hand for those days when you aren’t at your best.
- Comfy clothes – are a must. Think track pants, slippers, suitable feeding tops and high-waisted, dark knickers (you get my drift).
- Bond – with your baby. Your baby came from the perfect environment. They were constantly fed, kept at the perfect temperature and had your heartbeat for reassurance. They miss this after birth and need to feel close to you. Try stripping them down to their nappy and placing them on your chest. Have a bath with them, massage them. Make this their “4th trimester”. And don’t leave dad out, he can do all these things too.
- Sleep – when your baby sleeps. This is an annoying thing for most new parents to hear, but a baby’s sleep is unpredictable so you need to rejuvenate when you can.
- Now for the don’ts – don’t worry about creating routines or bad habits with your newborn. Don’t read too many parenting books. And don’t overwhelm yourself with visitors. I recommend sticking to a couple of visits from grandparents the first week, then go from there.
Babies are pretty simple little-people. They want to be fed, burped, kept warm and be comfortable. They also need lots of cuddles, a calm environment and a clean bum. If you’re doing this, then trust me, you’re nailing the parenting gig!