Don’t get us wrong, being clued-up on guidance and part of a new-parent network are great ways of getting ready for a baby; but that first week will be so intense that it’s nigh-on impossible to really know what’s in store.
First moments with your newborn
For instance, everyone has heard of the moment you see your child for the very first time and fall head over heels in love! But don’t worry if for you, it felt different. “I kind of didn’t recognize him at first, if that makes sense,” says Ana, mom of two-year-old Freddy. “It did worry me, but actually, that love just grew over the first few days, and I know from speaking to other parents that this is common.” Creating a little person for the first time is no small task and you’ll no doubt be exhausted, shell-shocked, excited, nervous – everything at the same time, so if euphoria isn’t the only thing you’re experiencing – don’t panic, you’re not alone.
Who to expect
Once you’re at home after the birth, a midwife may come to your home every couple of days for the first 10 days or so to do things like weigh your baby, check for things such as jaundice, take a heel-prick test for certain conditions and just generally see how you are both getting on. A health visitor might also visit during these early days to talk you through things like feeding and sleeping techniques, immunisations and vitamin supplements. These are your opportunities to ask absolutely anything at all - there’s no such thing as a silly question when it comes to something as important as this and remember, no one starts out as an expert.
Don’t sweat the small stuff
Let the house stay messy, the dishes remain unwashed and the clothes look crumpled for a while. And don’t worry if you need to say no to friends and family who want to visit – this is your time to focus on you and your baby’s needs. And while there’s a mind-boggling amount of ‘stuff’ that you need to make decisions about when it comes to your baby, from what to dress them in to how to get them from A to B, one thing you don’t need to think about is what baby wipe to use. WaterWipes contain 99.9% water and a drop of fruit extract, making them the only choice for newborn skin, recommended by midwives.
Finding what works best
A common issue for a lot of moms at this stage is breastfeeding. “While it took nine attempts to get him to latch on without help, once we’d managed that I thought we were ok,” says Cherry, mom of one-year-old Ethan. “But at seven days old he was losing weight so I also had to formula-feed him. I didn’t mind combination-feeding, I just felt so guilty that I hadn’t realised he wasn’t getting enough from me.”
What have I done wrong?
It’s natural to worry when your baby isn’t putting on enough weight or perhaps is sleeping less or crying more than you expected but try to make sure any concerns don’t slip into thinking, “What have I done wrong?”. All babies are different and will grow, behave, react, sleep in their own way – and you’re going to be with them for every step, finding out who they are and what they need.
Look after yourself
Feeling less than great in these early days isn’t uncommon. Moms who have given birth have undergone a huge physical undertaking, and sleep deprivation can leave both parents feeling physically exhausted and emotionally frazzled. While it can be difficult to open up, do try and talk to your partner or loved ones if you are struggling at all - they can support you best if they understand how you’re truly feeling. And stocking the freezer up with a few meals prior to the birth is a good way of making sure you can load up on the nutrition you need during this hectic time, without the faff of cooking from scratch.
That parenting comes ‘naturally’ is a myth and right now, the most important thing to remember is you’re only at the beginning of this journey. As Bob Marley famously said “Every little thing is gonna be alright”. It’s definitely going to be tough at times, but it’s the most incredible thing you’ll ever do and you’ll be great at doing it.