*This is a collaborative post*
Becoming a mum for the first time is one of life’s most magical experiences, but it can also be very daunting. There’s a lot to learn, and it can feel like you’ll never learn all that new information and skills to be the best mum you can be. Don’t worry. Like all first-time parents, you’ll learn as you go. To get you started, here are the top things that new mums need to know.
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- You will sleep again. In the early days, it might feel like you’ll never sleep in a normal way again. Babies are demanding, and you will be awake a lot as you get up for night feeds, diaper changes, or just to a crying baby. Even if the baby is asleep, a lot of nervous new mums find themselves lying awake anyway because they want to check on the baby all the time. This phase will pass, and you will manage to get a good night’s sleep again. Don’t worry.
- Get to know your baby before setting a routine. Babies do well with routine but don’t worry too much about starting one in the first few weeks. Your baby’s body clock won’t have settled yet, so give it a few weeks until you start seeing patterns of sleep and when the baby is hungry. Use this to create your routine. Remember that all babies are different, so the routine that works for your friend’s baby might not work for yours.
- Your nipples can become sore and cracked from breastfeeding. This usually happens because your baby isn’t positioned or attaching properly. If your nipples are cracked or bleeding, try these easy breastfeeding tips to help find the problem and correct it.
- It’s normal to be obsessed with baby poo. Your baby’s poo can actually tell you a lot about what’s going on with your baby’s health. How often they go, and the colour and consistency when they do go can tell you a lot about their health, so it’s actually perfectly normal to be strangely obsessed with it.
- Cluster feeding is normal. Some days it might feel like your baby just wants to feed constantly. This is more common at night, and it’s normal. Usually, it means your baby didn’t eat as much during the day or they are preparing for a growth spurt.
- Don’t compare your baby to others. If your friends have babies of a similar age to yours, it can be tempting to compare how they’re progressing. It’s also to look at guides for development stages and worry about whether your baby is behind. Don’t do this. All babies develop at different rates, and they will learn everything they need to, even if your friend’s babies learn to roll over, say their first word, or sit up on their own before yours does. Playing a comparison game will only make you worry.
- It’s good to admit you’re struggling. Being a new mum is exhausting. You’re tired, you’re learning a lot, and some days will feel hard. This is normal, and it’s ok to admit when you’re struggling. By admitting it, you can ask for help. If you need your partner to step up more, tell them. If your mum is offering to babysit or come round and clean the house, accept the offer so you can get some rest.
- Babies can’t regulate their own temperature. This means you need to do the work to keep them warm or cool enough. It can be worth investing in a thermometer for their bedroom so you can keep their room at a comfortable temperature for them.
- Your health visitor is there to help you. Some mums worry that the health visitor is there to test them, but they should be a resource for you to get help. They are there to help your baby, but they’re also there for you. Ask for advice, and they can give your support with whatever struggles you might be having, such as getting your baby to sleep or breastfeeding.
- Your baby doesn’t need a pillow. Pillows and duvets increase the risk of cot death, so don’t use them. While your baby is under 12 months old, they shouldn’t have either. Until your baby is 6 months old, the safest place for your baby to sleep is in a cot in your bedroom with no loose linen, toys, or bumpers.
- Babies need a lot of sleep. Babies are growing all the time and learning a staggering amount of new things and information about the world every day. All this growing and learning is tiring work, so your baby will need a lot of sleep. All that sleep helps your baby to develop their immune system and nervous system, as well as growing big and strong.
- Getting out of the house can help. It can feel like you haven’t spoken to anyone but your partner or your baby for weeks in the early days of parenting. When your baby can go out, getting out for a change of scene and some fresh air can really help you to feel normal. Pack up baby, and get out for a walk. Escaping the house can clear your mind, and will help both you and the baby sleep better that night.
- You will mistakes. But that’s ok. All new parents get things wrong sometimes as they’re learning. The important thing is that you learn from these mistakes and find the right way for you and your baby. Don’t dwell on the mistakes you make. Talking to other new mums can help you to see that all parents make mistakes sometimes, and you can learn from the parenting hiccups other parents have had.
- Mum friends are important. Join some groups for new mums so you can meet other women with babies of similar age. Other mums can be wonderful support on the days when being a good mother feels impossible. As your baby ages, you already know children of their age too, so they can start learning to socialise.