This is a new series that I’m trying out for the New Year; alongside the Makeup and beauty, I’d also like to start doing a lot more Lifestyle posts that relate to love, relationships, dating, parenthood etc.
The first part of the series kicks off with babies. I had my first one almost a year ago, and whilst 2016 had many low points, it was easily the best year of my life.
Despite that, there have been a lot of learning curves for me and my husband. Neither of us had been around newborn babies, so everything was completely new and there was a lot of ‘winging it’ on occasion.
Now, I’ve got a few friends who are having their first babies this year, and whilst I’m over the moon for them, there’s a lot I’d like to tell them to realistically prepare them, but I don’t want to scare them too much.
I thought that any first time parents and soon-to-be parents would like to know some of the things I picked up along the way, and I’m sure many parents out there will understand what I’m about to tell you!
1. It’s not easy to ‘sleep when the baby sleeps’.
This was something that I was told CONSTANTLY on the last month before giving birth. Sounds easy, right? Wrong. I haven’t had a nap for years, probably since Uni, because I’m an adult. I work a full time teaching job, and alongside those commitments I have a house to run and clean, food to cook, washing to do etc. I don’t have time for power naps. I’m usually too busy being an adult to think about it.
So trying to switch off enough to sleep during the day when my son slept was nearly impossible. I’d stop and rest, but very rarely sleep. It’s like some sort of sick irony that at the time when you need the most rest you’ll ever need in your life, sleeping is next to impossible with a newborn.
My advice? Take it as it comes. If you can sleep, then do so. If, like me, you find it difficult, then just take the time to relax. Leave that load of washing until later. And those dishes in the sink can wait an hour. Instead, have a bath, read a book, put your feet up and watch a film with a cup of tea. Just make sure you take care of yourself, as well as that little person sleeping in the crib next to you. As important as that little person is (and they are your mort important person in the whole world) you will be no good to them if you’re frazzled and over worked.
2. It’s ok to ask for help.
This one goes without saying. Most women feel that they have to suffer or struggle by themselves; your partner is at work all day, you’ve got dishes and laundry piling up, the house needs vacuuming and the baby won’t stop crying. Just ask for help.
Ask your parents if they wouldn’t mind taking your little darling for an hour why you tidy the house, or your friend if they could sit with the munchkin whilst you have a bath and make yourself look human. You’re not a failure if you want someone with you every now and again, and it’s important to remember that you have a good support network in place should you need it.
3. Laundry never stops.
Who knew something so tiny could make so much mess? Baby vomit, milk, poop, dribble, the bodily excrements are never ending. And just when you feel like you’ve gotten to the end of that washing pile, baby will make sure you’ve got more to do!
4. You develop a stomach made of steel.
As mentioned in the previous point, babies have all manner of bodily excrements. And you’ll be surprised (and secretly impressed) at a babies capacity to get covered in everything going. Something that previously would have made you run for the hills becomes second nature, and you tackle it like a pro. Exploding diarrhoea? You got this covered. Projectile milk vomit? No problem.
Also, get used to casually discussing the colour and smell of your babies poop to your partner. Over dinner. It becomes a regular occurance.
5. Everybody is suddenly an expert in raising a baby.
Seriously, everyone. Even people who don’t have children suddenly know better than you do. I had quite a heated argument with my (childless) brother and sister in law over this, when they claimed me having my son in a routine, and putting him to bed in his cot at 7pm was wrong, when they insisted we should forget the routine, go to theirs and put him to sleep on a bed. Yeah, a normal adult bed.
All this unsolicited advice, however well placed, gets annoying as hell. And those sanctimonious idiots who think they know better are worse, but you won’t stop them. Just smile and nod, then continue doing what you’re doing. Nobody will know your son or daughter better than you will, so you carry on doing what you think is best.
6. Google is NOT your best friend.
For some things, maybe. But I’d always say take everything with a pinch of salt. Like when you try and self diagnose your symptoms and end up with Pnuemonia, similar things will happen if you google every last thing to do with your baby. By all means, use the internet for advice and different parenting styles, but try different things out to find what suits you. If your baby is ill, don’t spend too long dwelling on what the internet says; take them to a Doctor and go from there.
If you spend too long comparing your baby to what people on the internet tell you about their babies, you’ll drive yourself mad. No two babies are alike; remember that.
7. Breastfeeding is hard.
You’ll always have those people who swear that breastfeeding is the only way to feed your baby, and everything else makes you a bad parent. I’d just tell them where to stick their opinions.
The bottom line is: breastfeeding is hard. Sometimes baby won’t latch onto your breast straight away, sometimes they’ll latch on incorrectly and cause you discomfort and pain, sometimes they don’t latch on at all. There are loads of positions for successful breastfeeding, and not all of them are easy to master. Your nipples can get sore and bleed, your breasts may swell and become painfully tender. Your milk may even dry up before you’ve finished with it. All of this is normal, and all of this is ok.
If breastfeeding isn’t for you, there are other ways to feed your baby. Obviously breast milk is the best and most nutritious way to feed your little one, and I am a big advocate for breastfeeding, but I’ll let you in on a little secret: I couldn’t do it.
My son was 5 weeks early and in an incubator with a chest infection for 2 weeks, and wouldn’t latch no matter how hard I tried. In the end, I expressed my breast milk and bottle fed him, before my milk dried up and I had to formula feed.
There’s no shame in bottle or formula feeding; you are not a failure, and don’t let the Doctors or Nurses make you feel like one. As long as your little one is happy, healthy and putting on weight, you’ll find what works for you both in time.
8. You will cry. A lot.
Again, this is a hormonal thing and will settle down eventually. But in the meantime, be prepared to cry at every advert, film, magazine article until your hormones settle. This is normal, but if you continue to feel down or upset, please seek medical advice.
9. It will take a lifetime to get ready to leave the house.
Gone are the days when you can roll out of bed, shower and leave the house. There is so much STUFF you have to remember to take with you in case the baby might need it, and coupled with trying to get yourself ready as well as your little one sometimes requires too much effort.
Try and organise yourself ahead of time to make this easier. If you know you need to leave fairly early, pack your baby’s bag the night before. Or try and get your things together when they’re asleep.
Even if you go for a walk around the block to be local park, or go to a mother and baby group, make sure you get yourself out and about. The fresh air will do you both good, and you’ll feel 100x better for the exercise.
10. Sex will not be the same for a long time.
Although not technically to do with a Newborn, it is something you will discover in the early stages post-partum. Firstly, you don’t even feel ready for it, and will cut off your partners hand if they dare come near you. Then, the need to sleep most definitely outweighs the need for sex, and when you eventually get your mojo back, it’s bloody uncomfortable. Those rumours about being stitched ‘nice and tight’ after an episiotomy are true, and definitely only fun for him…
Obviously it depends on the labour and delivery you had, which will dictate your healing time after the birth. Just go slow, and wait until you’re ready. Lubrication is your best friend, and experiment with different positions until you find something comfortable.
You’ve just pushed a person out your body, so share your worries with your partner. If you’re not enjoying it, tell them! If you’re having some discomfort, tell them! They’ll understand.
11. Take as many photos as you can.
Your baby’s first year will go by so fast, you won’t be able to keep up. And try to enjoy every second of it. There will be days when it’ll be difficult, and days that will feel like they last 100 hours, but you will also have the most rewarding and joyous prize at the end of it.
Your first year of motherhood is a wonderful and difficult experience, and every day will be a different adventure. You will never feel like an expert, or like you’re top of the class, but every single person feels this way. No one knows what to really expect when they’re expecting; you learn and grow along with your baby.
If there are any weird or wonderful tips you’d like to share about your baby’s first year, please leave me a moment below. I’d love to read about your motherhood stories.
All images are stock photos taken from Pexels.com