Coming home with a brand-new baby for the first time can be an incredibly daunting experience. Loads of first time parents these days haven’t held a newborn baby at all until they hold their own. It is totally overwhelming and you will be inundated with helpful (and some not so helpful!) advice.
Here are my 6 best tips on how to get through those first few weeks without too much stress:
1. Try to remain calm
Ummm….yeah right! I understand it is much easier said than done, but it helps to try to not get too worked up about the little things. Remember you are not the first people to do this! Young babies are incredibly resilient and you are most likely not going to harm them by doing the day-to-day stuff. It’s the sleep deprivation that will be the thing that will most likely cause you to stress over little things, so try to make sure you get some sleep or rest during the day and don’t sweat the small stuff. If the house is a mess, leave it! Somethings can wait.
2. Breastfeeding takes time
Breastfeeding needs to be learned and 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 it’s a good idea to not have too many visitors in those early days when you are trying to feed. Also, ask for help if you are struggling. It is better to get help early than plough on with it not really working. A lactation consultant can really help as can a friend or relative who has been a successful breast feeder.
3. Keep visitors away!
Carrying on from the last point it is really important to keep your home calm (well as calm as you can!) so keep visitors to a minimum for at least the first few weeks. There is nothing worse than having a house full of people with a crying baby and you feeling overwhelmed. Have someone be your gatekeeper, preferably your partner, so they can politely tell people you are not seeing anyone until you feel ready. If you do have visitors, limit the time they are there so they don’t stay for hours. Babies get very overwhelmed and tired easily, so keeping them quiet and calm really helps everyone.
4. Accept all offers of help
The best gift you can be given is an offer of help. Be it cooking, cleaning, holding the baby while you nap or putting on a load of washing, everything is helpful so say yes! The last thing you want to be doing at the end of the day is thinking about dinner, or worrying about the washing, so when people ask what you want as a gift, don’t be afraid to ask for these things too. Also, don‘t try to be all things to all people during this wonderful but overwhelming time. The house might look messy but that is okay while you spend time getting to know your baby.
5. Know how much sleep your baby needs
Having an overtired baby can add to your stress. Overtired babies don’t sleep well and they can cry…a lot. Newborn babies really can only cope with being awake for an hour at the most. This is a really important thing to know. It can change your life. Most new parents don’t know that new babies sometimes don’t fall asleep when tired, in fact the more tired they are, the harder it can be to get them to sleep. Knowing this can help your baby sleep better and if they sleep better, you will have some time to relax and regroup. It’s also a good idea to learn about your baby’s tired signs. Babies have a few different tired signs so keep a look out for them as they will let you know when they are ready for bed. Tired signs include yawning, grimacing, staring, crying and jerky movements.
6. Enjoy it!
Really try not to 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. Try to trust your instinct and go with it!
Article by Wattle Health resident expert, Paediatric Nurse, Jo Ryan.