Being a first time Mum can be hard. Those NCT classes set me up perfectly (for the birth I dreamt of), but often the reality can be very different to the labour, first few weeks we all imagine.
Here are the things I wish I had known as a first time Mum…
That breastfeeding can be difficult
Breastfeeding can be difficult for many women, me included, whether you’re a first time Mum or it’s your second. I had visions of a water birth and my baby crawling up my chest to feed and unfortunately, after an emergency c-section it was no way near that vision. I had to express colostrum in a syringe and battle (literally) to feed her for weeeks. I am fairly stubborn so I persisted and asked for lots of help but it was in no way easy. I ended up feeding for 14 months, so even after a hard start I was so happy with where we got to, but I wish I had known it wasn’t as easy as everyone says!
That you won’t have a clue what to do, and that’s OK!
I literally had NO CLUE what to do with my first baby (a little bit my second as well). I felt like I was massively learning on the job and that’s fine, I think we are all the same. Just remember you will know soon and try and enjoy learning with them.
That you might be scared to do simple things like bath your baby
I was petrified of bathing our first for fear of breaking her and I think that’s totally normal and OK. If you’re nervous, get the Daddy to help, after all, he doesn’t do loads in the early days. Also remember these little ones are more sturdy than we think, look at the way midwives hold them!
That the crying will stop
The crying will stop. It really will. I remember trying swinging our first in a figure of eights, walking up and down the house. Everything. She still cried. After a few weeks, it did get better as feeding established so try and get help in those first few weeks if it’s getting you down.
Not to listen to everyone’s advice and that your instincts are usually pretty spot on
When you’ve first had a baby it’s easy to listen to everyone’s well-meaning advice. BUT, you are with your baby 24 hours a day and often your instincts can be much better. I remember listening to my Mums, the midwives, the breastfeeding counsellors and an advice lines advice on breastfeeding and getting so confused. In the end I did what I wanted to do and listened to my baby and it was all a lot easier!
That you need to focus on YOU as well as the baby
Something I really didn’t do when I was a first time Mum was to focus on ME and well as they baby. I was so worried about the weight gain and getting back into shape after a c-section I didn’t eat enough and my milk didn’t come in and I was frankly ill. After a bit of a talk from the midwife I ate more and looked after myself more and everything became a lot easier. Remember you need to recover as well.
They will eventually sleep, it just takes time
When you’re up again at 3am it can be hard to process that they will ever sleep, but they will. They might just need more milk or comfort. It doesn’t last forever. Catch up on sleep when you can and before you know it you’ll be onto tantrums!
Don’t stress yourself out trying to get them to settle in a cot if they want to sleep on you
If they won’t settle in a cot in the day, don’t stress yourself out about it. I spent far too many hours worrying that my first would never sleep in a cot and she does now, she just wanted me in the early days. I wish I had enjoyed the cuddles and worried less that she’d never sleep!
The newborn days go SO quickly, enjoy them
The newborn days really do go so quickly. Stop and look at your little one, enjoy the sleepy cuddles as before you know it they’ll be a toddler rushing off in the other direction!
Don’t rush to leave the house
Don’t rush to get out of the house after bringing your baby home. Take your time and just enjoy your time with your little one. Enjoy your maternity leave as it really will go so quickly!
If you’ve had a traumatic birth, speak to someone
I had no idea that some hospitals have birth reflections services where you can speak to a trained midwife about the birth of your little one. My first birth was fairly difficult and only found this service when I was pregnant with my second and couldn’t get through a midwife appointment without crying. I wish I had talked about everything earlier.
That everyone else will be in the same boat
It may not seem like it when you’ve surviving on 2 hours sleep, have had 30 cups of coffee, you need matchsticks for your eyes and you read messages from people saying their little one slept through the night BUT for that one person there will be thousands of Mums in your boat and everyone will have sleepless nights. You will also sleep again. I promise.
That your little one isn’t behind
There can often be lots of competitive parenting, especially when you’re a first time Mum and you may feel like your little one should be smiling, rolling, laughing sooner than they are. Remember that all children do things at different times and they’ll get there. When you have your second you’ll be willing them not to do things so quickly!
What do you wish you had known in those early days?