But instincts don’t just happen overnight or necessarily at all for that matter, and this can be disconcerting when it comes to parenthood. But one helpful thing to remember is that ‘trust your instincts’ is essentially shorthand for - believe in yourself and your capabilities as a parent. And this is solid advice. But there’s no reason you should ‘just know’ how to do certain things once you become a parent, even if they seem obvious. So always ask – there’s no such thing as a silly question when it comes to babies.
To help you on your way, here a few simple tips:
How to hold a baby
The most important thing when holding a baby is to support their head - it’s the heaviest part of their body and their neck muscles can’t yet support it. Otherwise, however feels most comfortable to you and your baby is fine.
How to recognise what certain ‘cries’ mean
Alas, babies don’t have the capacity to tell us exactly what they need. If they did, parenting would certainly be easier. But while you may have heard advice or seen opinion pieces stating that babies’ cries can mean different things, this isn’t true and every baby is different. So sometimes, you really won’t know why your baby is crying – and there’s nothing wrong with that. All you can rely on then is trial-and-error: try everything you can to soothe them until something eventually works!
However, if your baby is crying constantly and you cannot soothe them, or the cry does not sound like their normal cry, it can be a sign that your baby is ill. Alternatively, they may be ill if they are crying, plus have other symptoms such as a high temperature. If this is the case, contact a healthcare professional.
How to breastfeed a baby
Breastfeeding is often referred to as ‘the most natural thing in the world’, but learning how to do it certainly doesn’t feel ‘natural’ to many. Sometimes it can be painful and disheartening, but don’t let that discourage you as midwives and other healthcare professionals are there to help, as are specific services such as breastfeeding clinics. Of course, breast-feeding is a personal choice and you should always speak to a healthcare professional if you want to know more about other options available.
Ultimately the most important thing to remember is that you are on a journey and will for-ever be learning how this whole parenting thing works. (Yes, even when your ‘baby’ isn’t really a baby anymore…)