I don’t think anyone can prepare you for the shock of bringing home a new-born baby for the first time. They don’t come with a manual; there are no written instructions on how to care for them. Maybe I’m the only one but I felt totally petrified for the first few days that we were at home. I must have phoned my mum a million times to ask her questions. Of course you somehow get through those early days and get into some kind of routine but life with a new-born is still a tremendous life changing experience.
When we brought home our second baby things were different, we felt like we knew what we were doing and everything was so much easier and less fraught with anxiety.
So having been there, I thought I’d offer my top tips on life with a new-born.
1. Babies cry! Ok, some people may have a pretty perfect baby who sleeps, feeds, sleeps and feeds but neither of mine were programmed this way. But what else can a baby do except cry when they need something, it’s just their way of telling you they need something. Ok it might take us a while to work out what their cries mean but you will soon get to know whether it is a hungry cry or a tired cry, or a ‘I need a new nappy’ cry.
2. Breastfeeding hurts. Yep, it’s true, I’m sorry to say. Baby doesn’t just latch on and away you go although this is certainly true for a lot of people. It can be very, very painful in the early days. I likened it to having a crocodile clip attached to your nipple. BUT the good news is, it gets easier and easier as the days go by and it is so worth sticking with it. If you need help or just want to talk to other mums who are going through the same situation then ask your midwife if there is a local latch on group.
3. Just accept that your house will be a mess for a few days, weeks, months (or in my case years) after your baby is born. You will have far more important things to worry about than dusting and ironing.
4. Looking after a new-born baby is draining, both emotionally and physically. You need to rest when you can and make sure you eat healthy, regular meals.
5. Babies are not as fragile as you think. Don’t worry if everyone wants to cuddle them and older children want to hold them. As long as it is all supervised baby will be fine. You don’t need to avoid everyone who has a cold or a sniffle. This is especially true if you are breastfeeding as your baby will have immunity from all sorts of things via your breast milk.
6. Crying babies are stressful. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it.
7. Most of all, try to RELAX and enjoy these early days. They really don’t last long, before you know it you will be waving your little one-off at the school gate for his/her first day at school.
What about you? What do wish you had known before your baby arrived?