Coming home with a new baby, particularly if it’s your first, can be an incredibly daunting experience. A lot of new parents these days haven’t held a newborn baby at all until they hold their own.
But don’t despair, you are not alone. Everyone feels overwhelmed at some stage in those first few weeks and months.
Sleep deprivation, hormones, in-laws and a small person who cannot tell you why they are crying can all contribute to making you feel like saying “what have we done?”.
Knowing a few little tips about newborns and how to deal with those early days can make the whole experience a little easier.
6 tips on surviving your baby’s first weeks …
It is much easier said than done but it pays to try to not get too worked up about the little things.
Young babies are incredibly resilient and you are most likely not going to cause any damage to your precious baby by doing the day-to-day stuff. Sleep deprivation will be the thing that most likely causes you to sweat the small stuff so try to make sure you get some sleep or rest during the day.
It is really hard to sleep when you are excited, nervous, anxious and overtired though, but make sure you can at least sit, have a cup of tea (preferably made by friend or relative) and have some time out while your baby is sleeping.
Remember breastfeeding is a learned process
Breastfeeding can be something that takes a bit of time to master – for both the mother and baby. You need time to get used to each other to make it work so don’t have the house full of people when you are trying to feed. The last thing you need is your great uncle staring at you while you try to get your oversized nipple into your baby’s teeny tiny mouth!
Also ask for help if you are struggling. It is better to get help early than plough on with it not really working till it might be too late. A lactation consultant can really help as can a friend or relative who has been a successful breastfeeder.
Keep visitors to a minimum
Carrying on from the last point it is really important to keep your home calm so keep the onslaught of visitors at bay for at least the first few weeks. There is nothing worse that having a house full of people, with a crying baby and you feeling overwhelmed.
Ask your partner to be the gatekeeper and politely tell people you are not seeing people this week or book in one afternoon where you can have people over but limit it so they don’t stay for hours. You baby is going to be around for a long time so there will be plenty of time for everyone to get their turn for a cuddle.
Take up all offers of help
The best gift you can be given when you have your baby is the gift of food! The last thing you want to be doing at the end of the day is cooking so having a freezer stocked with meals is a huge help. If you have a mother or mother-in-law staying with you ask them to do the household chores while you can concentrate on the baby stuff.
Have some idea of what to expect with baby sleep
Newborn babies can only be awake for an hour at a time. This is the most important thing ALL parents should be told before leaving the hospital. Most new parents don’t realise that new babies don’t actually fall asleep when tired, in fact the more tired they are, the harder it can be to get to sleep. So make sure if your baby has been up for 60 minutes or close to it that you are settling them for bed.
It is much easier if you keep a look out for your baby’s tired signs as they will let you know when they are ready for sleep. Tired signs include yawning, grimacing, staring, crying and jerky movements.
New babies can’t put themselves to sleep. There is so much information about teaching your baby to self-settle and yes, it is important, but newborn babies can’t do it, most of the time, so don’t feel bad for feeding, rocking, cuddling your young baby to sleep. But that said if your baby is happy, fed, calm and ready for bed don’t be afraid to put them down awake and see what happens.
Don’t get too caught up in what is the “right” thing to do. Having a new baby is such a wonderful, amazing experience, and it will pass very quickly so take some time to just enjoy it.