It is quite difficult to see beyond your birth and then suddenly, one day, your baby is here and you are thrown into this whole new world with so many things to think about and do.
So take a deep breath and know that you’ve got it, that you are going to be wonderful parents and any challenges along the way you CAN overcome.
Here I offer you some guidance to help you through.
SHUT THE DOOR: In the first few days just being together as a new family and learning about your baby and letting your baby learn about you is really important. Quiet times with as few visitors as possible. Time to breastfeed in peace, to recover from the ‘marathon’ that you’ve just completed, to marvel at this new tiny human that will melt your heart and to just to embrace this new life that you have embarked upon. It’s also a time for your baby to adjust to being in the world. From the safe warm environment inside you, to the noisy outside world, can take a bit of adjustment and keeping calm, quiet and gentle can help with this adaptation. Limit your visitors if you really need or want to have them, just for the first 2-3 days and especially limit the amount of handling of your new baby. When visitors go home, your baby can be a little unsettled with so many new faces, and arms holding him/her, remember, a few days earlier he/she was cosy inside a nice warm tummy.
ADVICE: You will receive advice from so many people. Friends, family, neighbours, colleagues, all is good intentional so listen, try and if it doesn’t work for you then throw it away. Do not feel you have to act on every bit of advice you get. Facebook groups can provide a great platform for sharing experiences, but these can also be negative, so be aware and remember, this is your baby and you decide what is good and right for you. Every baby and every parent is different and so what works for one, may not for another and the other way around.
VISITORS: When you have visitors do not be afraid to ask them to help you in some way. Maybe something small like folding the washing or bringing some shopping. With really good friends and family you could ask if they could cook a little extra and bring it with them. Visitors can be a Godsend, they can also bring you stress. You do not need to make tea for them - ask them to do that for you: The house does not need to be sparkling – if you are feeling distressed because your house is untidy or needs a clean, ask a visitor to help you: If you have a pile of ironing in the corner – ask a visitor to iron a few things while talking to you. 99.9% of visitors will be delighted to help in some way, but few will ask as they are afraid of insulting you – eg. If I ask if I can hoover for you, you may immediately think ‘ohh no my house is dirty’! I know this feeling all too well!
LEARNING: This whole parenting lark is a huge learning process for both of you. You need to learn how to handle this little bundle of love that is now your responsibility and your little bundle of love needs to learn who you are, how the world works and where they belong in it. Breastfeeding takes two and takes time, patience and quiet times for both parties. It does not always run smoothly, so asking for help from a lactation consultant can help you on your breastfeeding journey. Learning your baby’s cues, cries and actions is all part of being a parent and taking the time to talk to your baby and listen and learn from him/her is also good. Listen also to your gut instinct – most of the time gut instinct is right. Do not be afraid to act upon this and have confidence in what you are doing. You cannot do anything wrong – listen, learn and love.
EMOTIONS: There is no ‘normal’! Emotions can be high, can be low, and can be nothing. The best is not to expect to have this overwhelming love, this high of happiness or the often talked about 3 day blues. Anything is possible.
There can be, from the beginning, this fabulous feeling of love, devotion and affection for your little one, but this can also take a few days or even weeks to happen. Deep down you know you love and cherish this wonderful new life that you have brought into the world and accept this and do not feel bad if you do not have this overwhelming feeling of love – that is also normal.
Your body has been through a lot and if your birth was not as you planned, then it can take longer to recover. Talk to someone. Share your experience and know that you are now safe and you have your beautiful baby in your arms.
After the first few days there is a huge drop in oestrogen and for some women this can lead to a couple of days of feeling low and/or crying. If this occurs, do not be afraid. Accept it is a temporary imbalance and it will pass. Talk to your partner, family member or friend. Go for a walk and know that in a day or so, you will feel ‘normal’ again.
There are some occasions when these ‘blue’ days last longer and if you feel this is happening and you cannot rouse yourself from these negative or sad feelings, then talk to someone. It is nothing to be ashamed or afraid of and just by sharing, talking and seeking help you can overcome this and enjoy your life as a new mum.
REALITY: This is a huge learning curve, but a wonderful one. Full of laughter, tears, tiredness, emotions, fun………whatever you want it to be. You are entering or have entered this new life as parents and you are in control. You cannot do anything wrong - I am 200% sure you will love and protect your new baby. Take each day as it comes. You do not need to be ‘super parents’ with everything in order, just do what feels right for you.
You will be tired – so sleep whenever you can. You will feel uncertain at times – so ask if you are not sure. You will feel emotional and perhaps overwhelmed – accept this and know you are doing ok. Whatever you are going through, know that you are not alone. There are other parents up at 2am feeding their babies, there are groups and support on the internet, to share experiences and get advice and there are professionals to guide you on this amazing journey as parents.
Good luck to you all – you’ve got this
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