Becoming a parent fills you with so many emotions – joy, happiness, love, apprehension, fear…you name it.
When you are in hospital though, you (and baby) are looked after 24/7 by the wonderful nursing staff. They help you feed your baby, swaddle your baby, bath your baby and even put your baby to sleep. Then just as you think you can handle your baby…you get discharged and you, your spouse and baby have to fend for yourselves.
The key is not to panic – you will panic – but try not to.
Have everything prepared
Being pregnant is a walk in the park compared to brining your baby home. Your baby has everything it needs in your womb; now that you have given birth you need to actively look after this tiny human. Being prepared is having all your basics ready at home – the cot, baby clothes washed and packed, the nursery all set up, formula and sterilisers (if you are bottle feeding) or nursing pads (if you are breast feeding) and mommy supplies (snacks, magazines, movies etc) to occupy yourself during those first few weeks when baby just seems to sleep and feed.
Have a support network
Whether it is your spouse, your mom, your mom-in-law or friends – use them. Use your people to your advantage, it might be to help with the housework, hold the baby so you can take a shower and eat a proper meal or just someone to talk you.
Don’t hold in your emotions
You have just had a baby; your hormones are going to be all over the place. This doesn’t mean you are crazy or you don’t love your baby. If you are having feelings of self doubt and worry, express them. If you need to scream into a pillow, do it. If you need to cry, cry. Letting your emotions out into the open is natural and healthy.
Sleep when you can
Many people say “sleep when the baby sleeps”, I was not one of those people, when the baby slept I was worry that she wasn’t breathing so I would check on her every 10 minutes, or I had that 20 minutes to shower and eat a meal. My advice is bringing sleep when you can even if you sleep upright holding your baby.
Put down the baby books
You invested in all the literature, you read all the baby books but now that your newborn is home you wonder “is she sleeping too much?”, “is she awake past the recommended time?” The baby books are great and are fantastic reference tools, but you are the only person that truly knows your baby, so use and trust your instincts.
Enjoy every day
This is the tough one, as each day presents a new challenge. You will be tired, you will be anxious, you will doubt yourself, but try to enjoy your newborn. My favourite moment is when I put my little girl to sleep, singing her a lullaby and she falls asleep in my arms. Time is too precious to wish this phase away, it will be difficult, but before you know it, your newborn will be a toddler.
Contributed by Kathy Cowell of Little Ashford Preschool