At no other point in your life do you embark on such a steep learning curve compared to when you become a new mum. What’s more, there’s no let-up: it’s a 24-7, for-the-rest-of-your-life, commitment. And while that is amazing, and going to bring immense rewards, it’s also, at times, tough.
Forewarned is forearmed, and this New Mums Survival Guide will make sure you have the tips and tricks to help flatten out that learning curve from feeding, to sleeping, to budgeting, and bonding – we’ve got you covered.
When a newborn makes their appearance, you suddenly find yourself in the shadows. However, for your little one to thrive, you need to be in tip top shape, both physically and mentally. That’s why we’re listing ‘You’ in the Number 1 spot in our Survival Guide.
Make sure you take time after the birth to recover. It’s not unusual for you to get after pains which are your uterus contracting back. This is normal, but it’s a time to rest as much as your newborn allows, eat well, and recover. Make sure you see your Midwife or Health Visitor regularly and book in for your six-week postnatal check with your GP.
This is the time to get family and friends in on helping you so that you can care for the baby; you’ll be surprised how much family and good friends will be willing to help out where they can.
Feeding and Sleeping
Feeding and sleeping are the main functions (along with Dirty Nappies SOS) that you’ll be concerned with during the early weeks, and the second is largely governed by the first. The important thing to remember here is that every baby is unique, as is every mum. You may have absorbed every baby book you could during pregnancy, but your little one can’t read – they don’t know the rules.
The good news is that babies are generally pretty resilient. Firstborns particularly have to be forgiving creatures as their parents learn along with them. In just a short while you’ll find you’re in tune with your little one, and a routine can naturally begin to develop. A routine will help you feel a bit more in control. In the meantime, try to ride out this time with kindness to yourself.
If you’re breastfeeding, then it’s normal for your baby to cluster-feed and spend most of their life attached to the breast. This is your opportunity to rest and recover from the birth as you bond with your little one. This isn’t the time for three-course meals and a spotless home.
If you’re bottle-feeding, then you’ll need to get into a good system with bottle production. This leaflet will help you to know all the ins and outs of bottle-feeding.
Remember – whichever feeding route you go down, make the decision that is best for your family – not because of other’s expectations. It seems a huge thing now, but while ‘breast is best’, your baby will be happy, healthy, and thrive as long as they get love, cuddles, and calories.
As for sleep, you’ll soon fall into a routine around your baby. What is important is that you rest when your baby does. It’s tempting in the early days to use this time to get on top of the house work or even get lost in the swamp of social media. However, do rest. If things are particularly hard, then stagger bed-times with your partner, and try to get some sleep in the evening.
When you become a new mum, you are likely to find your income suddenly reduced while you’re on maternity leave, and simultaneously discover that a baby can suck your bank account dry quicker than their bottle.
To check you are receiving everything you are entitled to with Maternity Pay, check here. You’ll also need to check that you are receiving everything else that you’re eligible for. Now there’s a baby on board you may be entitled to tax credits and other benefits. These Benefit Calculators can help. Also, make sure you plan for maternity leave as far in advance as you can, and save where possible.
Once you’re gazing into the innocent big eyes of your baby, you’ll also begin to feel the need to provide for their future. When you are ready, start considering how you will financially plan for this. We have a range of child’s savings plans that can help you to save for your child’s future.
The Baby Blues, Stress, or Something More?
In amidst all the practicalities of the first few weeks and months as a new mum, your emotions are going to be on a rollercoaster too. It’s completely normal to feel the complete spectrum of emotions in these early days. Hormones and lack of sleep play havoc even for the most usually even-keeled souls. There will be good days, bad, and those ratcheting up the boredom scale – all is normal.
It’s at these times that a good support network will come up trumps. Friends from antenatal groups, or from infant classes, can become a lifeline as you’re all in the same boat at the same time. Family and your wider circle of friends can also be important for helping you cope.
For many, it is possible to regain some emotional equilibrium along with a beautiful bond with your baby. However, if the blues become more than transient, or you’re struggling with the practicalities of caring for your child, or anxiety has got a little out of control, or you’re worried that you haven’t bonded, then it’s time to get some help.
Your Health Visitor or your GP should be your first call. Postnatal Depression (PND) affects around one in ten new mums. You are not alone. The good news is that, with support and help, you can recover and soon be back on track.
This Too Will Pass
And in all things, remember: this too will pass. The tough times, the sleepless nights, the poor latch, the frequent crying… they will all fade with the passage of time. Similarly, so will the gummy grins, the newborn scent, and the squidgy cheeks. Go slow. Take your time. Take it all in. Motherhood is a marathon, not a sprint, and you’re just at the starting line.