Dear new mum,
You are probably reading this through tired eyes, or at 4am at the morning as you are doing the 5th feed of the night. I wanted to let you know that it does get better, and that you need to keep going.
Every day at the moment is all about survival. You may have hours where you feel like you are going crazy, or too exhausted to care anymore, or your baby is so cranky that you just want to leave the room. This is all perfectly normal, and these feelings can quickly change to feeling like you’re winning at parenting as the day goes on. So do not write off the day if you’re having a bad morning.
Try not to worry too much. I know just how easy it is to worry as a first time parent. Instead trust your instincts, and rely on family and friends advice if you can. But do not Google. It will send your mind into over drive and convince you that there is something wrong with your baby, or you. If in doubt visit the GP or Health Visitor, but above all trust your instincts.
Remember that babies are not programmed to our routines. At first they will want to sleep whenever they want to sleep, and feed whenever they like. Just go with it. You may be lucky and have a baby who sleeps through the night, or a baby who wakes on every hour. If your baby wakes frequently enjoy the cuddles, they are only little once, and soon you’ll be trying to implement a sleep routine on them.
Breastfeeding is hard work, but keep going at it. It could be painful, or your baby may have trouble latching, or you could have cracked nipples. Trust me it does get easier the more you do it, plus it’s convenient too. But if you need to top up with formula or provide a bottle of expressed milk please do not feel guilty about this. Your baby will thrive no matter whether they are breast fed or formula fed. Always keep in the back of your mind that fed is best, and that there is plenty of support for breastfeeding mums, just do a little Google search or speak to your Health Visitor.
Be kind to yourself in the initial few weeks after giving birth. Your body has been through a huge ordeal, not to mention the 40 week pregnancy. No matter what type of birth you had, look after yourself and allow yourself plenty of time to recover before trying to do stuff. The housework can definitely wait, and so can the friend who is desperate to see you and meet your little bundle of joy. If you need to spend two weeks in bed, then spend two weeks in bed and pull up that drawbridge.
It’s best to lower your expectations. Throw away your to-do list and resign yourself to only getting a few things or nothing done in a day. As your little one gets bigger they will start to show more of a pattern when it comes to sleeping and feeding which should allow you to get some things done. But for now enjoy spending time sat on the sofa and binge watching Netflix.
You may feel sad or emotional in the early days and weeks. This is perfectly normal as your hormones change in your body and you get used to your new role as a mum. If you need to cry, then cry, let it out, there’s no point in keeping it bottled up. However if this pattern continues for more than a few weeks, please seek advice, and don’t wallow in it.
If you’re a second, third or fourth time parent it may be hard work looking after more than one, and you maybe worried about this, although I’m sure that the fear is worse than the reality. Enjoy the days of having a newborn in the house and seeing your older children bond with the baby. You could always use them to your advantage, and see if they can help you around the house.
Becoming a parent is hard. It’s life changing. You may feel like you’ve been hit by a ton of bricks, or completely in shock as the reality of looking after and being 100% responsible for a little person dawns on you. Parenting is a wonderful thing that takes time to crack. Don’t worry if you’re not doing something that someone else is doing. Everyone parents in different ways and before you know it you’ll be supermum in your child’s eyes.
Oh and lastly remember that if you’re so tired you can’t keep your eyes open, or even summon the energy to go to the loo, remember that this too shall you pass. Keep going. Your baby is only small once, enjoy this time and the snuggles.
P.S. It’s ok to eat as much as chocolate and cake as you like, especially after a 4.30am night feed!