My daughter is now nearly 13 weeks old and it feels like it has flown and like she’s been here forever both at once! I thought now would be a good time to reflect back and give the tips I wish someone had told me / that I was grateful for knowing in those early weeks!
- The first two weeks are the hardest, but it will get easier.
Now I’m at twelve weeks I have no idea how we got through. Just know that it does get better, although it feels like it might not at the time. The only important things for those first weeks are ensuring that you and baby get plenty to eat and drink and that you both sleep when you can. She will feed almost constantly. Don’t expect to get anything done. Stay in your pyjamas. Your partner’s job that first two weeks is to keep you fed and watered and to only let visitors in if you’re feeling up to it, as well as bonding with the baby too!
- Be gentle with yourself.
However you end up giving birth, your body has gone through a lot so you need to give yourself time to recover. Stay in bed if you want to, don’t feel you have to get dressed unless it will make you feel better. Say no to visitors if you don’t feel up to it. This is your time to recover and bond with your baby – there will be plenty of time for other people to meet them and have cuddles later.The housework etc is not important and can wait. If you do have visitors, let them help you and do the jobs which have been bugging you whilst you cuddle your baby.
- You can never have too many muslins.
Muslin squares are brilliant. I had read many people say beforehand how useful they were and wasn’t sure they were as exciting as people thought. I was wrong! They can be used to protect clothes when burping, cleaning up sick and spit ups, as blankets if it is warm, to swaddle if needed, to cover a surface before laying your baby on it… I’m sure there are many other ways! My preferred ones are from Aldi – they are cheap but are huge and so soft! And very absorbent. Just brilliant! (Plus, some have robots on. You can’t really beat that.)
- You cannot spoil a newborn with cuddles.
Don’t listen to anyone who says you can. Responding to their cries will make them feel safe and secure. They need you – they’ve spent 9 months being constantly cuddled, warm, with food on demand. The world is huge and scary and they’re trying to get used to it! Saying that, do what you need to to get through. It is natural to get frustrated with your baby when you’re sleep deprived, they’re fed and changed and still screaming and you don’t know why. If you need to, put them somewhere safe, go into another room and take a few breaths. They will be fine for a few minutes whilst you compose yourself.
- Have people you can message in the early hours of the morning who understand.
I was lucky in that I had a friend who was due at exactly the same time as me, and who gave birth 3 days before me. We would message each other in the early hours of the morning and it helped so much to know that I wasn’t alone. This saved my sanity, so if you can find a similar friend, group of people on a forum, twitter mums, etc I would really recommend it! Everything seems worse at 3am.
- Open the floodgates!
You’re likely to get very emotional around day 3 when your milk comes in, whether breastfeeding or not. Either way, you will cry a lot in the first few weeks. This is normal. (If it carries on though, seek help.)
- You don’t need to spend a fortune before baby is here.
I was glad that I restrained myself and didn’t buy too much. We had so many clothes gifted to us that we barely needed to buy any. Don’t worry about toys etc just yet. Your baby won’t be interested in them for quite a few weeks, so plenty of time to get some when you know your baby a bit better.
- Don’t worry about getting lots of bath products.
All you need at first for cleaning baby is water and cotton wool pads. We still use those now when changing nappies and only use wipes when out and about. The first few baths we used only water, and again only recently started using a body wash (we went for a Child’s Farm body wash).
- Be prepared that baby may not like your well thought out ideas.
We didn’t buy a Moses basket as I had the bedside co-sleeper crib so didn’t need it and thought Annabelle could nap on me or in pram during day if not in crib. She refused to sleep in the co-sleeper at first and would only sleep in pram so we ended up buying a Moses basket. I also bought a few swaddles thinking they’d be fab at night keeping her all cosy – she hated them. So just be prepared to go with what baby wants!
- TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS.
This is the most important one. You know your baby best, even when it feels like you don’t. If you think something is wrong or not normal for your baby, question it and keep questioning if you feel you need to. If others keep telling you to do something but you don’t feel it is right (for example, giving formula top ups or leaving them to cry) do your research then follow your gut.
I will repeat what I said earlier – it does get easier! Especially after a few weeks when your baby starts responding more to you, and it feels like you’re getting something back for the hard work. It is so, so worth it!