In my sons first 9 months, I cannot tell you how many times I googled the following phrase…. ‘is it OK if….?‘. I honestly don’t know how many times I anxiously typed this into my phone, laptop or my husband’s phone. I usually found that I was met with a barrage of results, some reassuring, others sending me into a bit of a panic! Eventually, we learnt to listen to our inner Mummy and Daddy instincts, trust our close family circle and to check reliable sources such as the NHS or checking the big purple book I was sent from the hospital with. If you’re a new or nervous parent, I am here for you (reach out, I may take a while but I will absolutely respond!) I understand how you’re feeling, I will not judge, and trust me, you will do just fine.
I truly believe it’s perfectly normal to be a little worried during the first stages of Mummyhood, but I would hate to think that anyone was getting so worried they were letting it consume the enjoyment of those first few cuddly months when your baby needs your cuddles and love. It is absolutely the case that if you are a happy and calm parent, this will radiate to your child.
In a totally ridiculous moment one evening I began to wonder how our Parents and Grandparents ever got through the first few months of being a parent without giving in to complete and utter stress and panic, and then I realised, they probably asked one another, had experience from family and friends, or most importantly, used their paternal instincts. I recall the first few days feeling a bit invincible and not wanting to rest, struggling to understand why anyone was telling me I needed to sleep, and then suddenly BANG! I ran head first into the wall of tiredness and my goodness I was EXHAUSTED!!
The first and most important piece of advise I can give you is one which you will hear your Midwife, Health visitor and loved ones tell you in the first few days after giving birth, that is to REST. I recall the first few days feeling a bit invincible and not wanting to rest, struggling to understand why anyone was telling me I needed to sleep, and then suddenly BANG! I ran head first into the wall of tiredness and my goodness I was EXHAUSTED!! About 3 weeks in, after banging into said wall, my lovely health visitor was visiting, she said ‘Julie, sleep when the baby is sleeping’, my husband agreed, and I decided to listen to them both. All I can say is the rest I took when David was resting was the best decision I ever made. I felt more energised, happy and calm because I was much more rested.
Whilst I had somewhat mastered the rest element, I must admit that due to my hormones at the beginning I wanted no help whatsoever, I wanted to hold my Son all the time and thought if someone were to help me around the house, or cook a meal, this would make me a failure in their eyes. Thankfully I shared these thoughts with my husband and he eased my mind telling me how well I was doing, and reminding me that any help offered was through love for us as a family, not because I needed help, but because they wanted to help. My second piece of advise is twofold, here goes- accept help (it will free you up to spend even more time snuggling your newborn) and share your feelings with those close to you. Your mental health matters, and post pregnancy is a very tough time hormonally speaking, opening up and sharing your feelings with those closest can be one small step to looking after yourself! Make sure you rest too! It will go a long way to helping you feel like you again.
I actually have a lot more but if you’re reading this, I can only presume you are on borrowed time, so here is a wee list to speed up your reading experience:
1. Try your best not to panic or stress too much. It’s natural to worry, but you will make better decisions when you are as calm as possible.
2. Rest! Rest when you can, you will appreciate the nap you took in the middle of the day when you are up in the middle of the night with your little Munchkin!
3. Listen to your babies cues. You will soon learn the different cries and noises they make. The more you bond with your baby the more you will know what they need.
4. Cuddle and snuggle your baby. Research shows that you cannot spoil a newborn and that a baby is who is engaging in lots of cuddles with their parent will really benefit from it.
5. Be wary of the ‘scaremongering’ poster on Mummy forums. A few times I have been caught out with this myself. Whilst I realise the importance of sharing best practice, important information and warnings, some of the posts on the Mummy forums can make you so fearful. I also think it’s always so important to contact your Dr if you have any medical concerns for your precious little one.
6. Learn all you can about keeping your baby the correct heat, listen to your health advisor and regularly check your baby.
7. Take plenty of photos, but don’t look at your phone when you should be looking at your child. They are only children once, it’s important to make them feel valued and to build memories with them.
8. Feeding- that’s a whole other topic which I will be writing about. Do your best to suss out the best way to feed your baby, and make sure you don’t miss the cues they send you for when they are a wee bit hungry.
9. Nappies. All I can say is prepare yourself. From the why have they not pooed, to the I will never be able to clean this! You’re in for a rollercoaster ride, honestly!
10. Lastly I would like to congratulate you on opening your very own laundrette! Haha I’m just joking… am I really though? Prepare yourself for the laundry.. so much laundry!