Friday, 17 August 2018

Things I Wish I'd Been Told About The Newborn Stage


For us, the newborn stage was a complete blur filled with sleepless nights, many visitors, and absolute joy. In those three months, we went through the depths of almost every emotion. There were days where I would lie beside Ava as she slept and just marvel at her - I grew this tiny human! - and there were other days when we had slept about 2 hours that night and the house was a complete mess and my clothes were covered in baby sick and I'd just turn to my husband and say 'what have we done?!'. I say days but I probably went through those two emotions in the space of ten minutes. Or simultaneously. 

The thing is being a new parent to a newborn is pretty much three months of muddling through and winging it. After months of kicking back on maternity leave, it is a bit of a shock to the system to suddenly have this tiny human come into your life that needs feeding all the time and doesn't sleep. Midday baths and cankle massages that you bribed your partner into giving you are a thing of the past and you go into complete survival mode. But, the crazy thing is, you kinda miss it once its over. The sleepless nights are really a small price to pay for having a baby that wants to snuggle all the time and doesn't have any desire to cause themselves harm by putting their fingers in electric sockets.

So, I wanted to share the things that I wish I had been told during this time.

You got this
I feel like so much of being a new mum to a newborn is having people tell you how to do things but never reassuring you when you're doing something well. It is a minefield of comments about how breast is best and how co-sleeping is basically the devil and how you can only use one brand of fabric softener as the others will slowly poison your baby through their clothes and the whole world will probably die. New mums need to hear that they're doing a great job. Sure, give some polite advice but don't be too much - especially if it is something small and the baby is totally fine either way.

Mum groups aren't as scary as they seem
I spent most of the newborn stage on the sofa with the baby trying to get her to breastfeed and watching Orange Is The New Black. We occasionally went to Tesco but the trips were few and far between. But, when I did finally pluck up the courage to go to a mum group, I really liked it. I always thought there's no point taking the baby there as she won't be able to do anything but she liked seeing new faces and it definitely improved my mood a great deal.

Buy the damn Sleepyhead
I thought my baby would happily sleep in her moses basket. I was a fool. The baby only wanted me and I happily obliged - I mean, who wouldn't want to snuggle a baby 24/7? What followed was 5 months of co-sleeping and general clinginess and I regretted not finding a way to get her to settle without being held. That's when I knew I should have bought a Sleepyhead. They are basically a cushion that surrounds the baby and makes it all cosy and snuggly. To me, it was a colossal waste of money that I didn't need to spend. I was wrong. I wish I had invested in a Sleepyhead so that I could have a bit of time to myself when the baby napped and, most importantly, so that co-sleeping was a lot safer.



Call 111 if you think something is off
When your midwife is only available between 9-5 and you don't think your worry is serious enough to take the baby to A&E, it is easy to brush it off and tell yourself you're being paranoid. But you know your baby better than anyone so, if you have any worry, call 111. We used this number so much during the newborn stage for everything from worries about the baby not pooing to her crying more than usual. Every time, we were told that it is normal but I was always glad that I called up and spoke to a healthcare professional and checked.

You'll mostly just use sleepsuits and vests
When I was pregnant, I used to imagine all the cute outfits I would put the baby in. Little dresses and hairbands with bows on them - even little, tiny trainers! But I hardly used any of the cute clothes I had bought her. She lived in white vests and sleepsuits. When we went out, she would wear an all-in-one rain jacket. And we sometimes put her in cardigans too. That was it - I don't think she wore a dress for the entirety of her first three months. And she definitely didn't wear little trainers (much to my dismay).

Buy all the plastic-backed bibs you find
We found that plastic-backed bibs were so handy as the milk wasn't able to seep through the bib like it did with some of the fabric ones we had. We got ours in Primark and they are still going strong nine months on.

You don't need to 'snap back'
I wrote a whole post on the pressure to lose the baby weight a couple of months postpartum and I do still feel this pressure nine months on, in all honesty. Society expects new mums to get back into shape right away when really all we can do is feed our baby and eat whatever is passed to us/the Domino's man brings to our door. This whole culture of getting back to your pre-pregnancy size is silly - just relax and enjoy the time with your little one rather than worrying about diets.

Document everything
One thing I regret about the newborn stage is that I didn't document enough. I have hardly any pictures of me holding the baby (I would have especially loved more taken in the hospital) and I didn't fill out her baby book. I wish I had more to look back on - even if they're just blog posts. So, force people around you to take your picture and keep your baby book up to date - your future self will thank you.

What do you wish you had been told about the newborn stage?
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