How to survive new parenthood

Having a baby changes you life in pretty much every way.  And I think no matter how much you read and prepare before the baby arrives, you’re still never really prepared for what life with a newborn is actually like.

So if you’re expecting a baby soon, or have recently become a parent (congratulations!), here are my words of advice on how to survive those first few months while you get used to your new life.

 

Lower your standards

Seriously.  Even if your house is normally kept pristine and clean and tidy, just relax your standards for a bit.

Accept that you won’t be able to keep on top of everything for a while, and that’s ok.

 

Accept any and all offers of help

In the first few days and weeks with a newborn at home, accept every offer of help that is given to you.

Let people bring you a home-cooked meal that you can just heat up in the microwave.  Let your mum take a load of dirty washing to do for you.  When people come to visit let them make themselves (and you) a cup of tea.

 

Lower your standards some more

Seriously.

 

Prepare

If you’re reading this while still pregnant then take advantage of the time you have now to prepare for life once the baby arrives.

Batch-cook a few meals and put them in the freezer.  Stock up on essentials, not just for the baby, but for you too.  Things will be a bit easier with a newborn if you know there’s plenty of tea and biscuits in the house.

 

Focus on the first six weeks

I remember my sister telling me this when I first had my son.  The first six weeks are generally the hardest as you all adjust to life with a new baby at home.  If you can focus on getting through those six weeks, rather than worrying about getting through the next six months, it does make it easier to cope with.

Cry when you need to

Your hormones are all. over. the. place. when you’ve just had a baby, so just go with it.

If you need to cry, even if you’re not sure why, then do it.

Keep an eye on how you’re feeling though.  The baby blues are really common in the first few weeks, but if after that you’re still really struggling then please do talk to your midwife, health visitor or GP about how you’re feeling.

 

Let go of your expectations

Before you have your first child you have all these plans and expectations of how things will be.  Once your baby is here keep in mind that it’s ok to let all those expectations and plans go.

If your birth didn’t go to plan, that’s ok.  Every experience of labour and birth is different, so things very rarely go the way we think they will when we write these birth plans.  If you’re finding it hard to cope with how your birth went though, ask your health visitor if you can chat with someone about what happened so that you can work through it.

You might have always said that you would never co-sleep with your baby, or that you’d never give them a dummy.  But know that it’s ok to change your mind on all of these things now that your baby is here.

 

Be kind to yourself

Don’t rush to get ‘back to normal’.

Keep wearing your maternity clothes.

Eat the cake.

Just soak it all in.

 

Embrace the 4th trimester

The first three months after a baby is born is often referred to as the 4th trimester.  Your baby is getting used to life in the big wide world.  So do what you can to ease them into it.  Keep them close to you.  Using a sling or a wrap to wear your baby is a great way to do this.  And remember you can’t spoil your baby by holding them too much.

 

This too shall pass

Make this your mantra.

It feels like an eternity when you’re in the newborn trenches, but know that it will pass. It will get easier. You will get to know your baby. You will sleep again one day.

This too shall pass.

 

Hopefully these snippets of advice will help see you through the blur of those early days of parenthood.

I do have one more for you actually.

While you’re busy taking endless photos of your newborn, make sure you get in a few photos with them too.  You might not feel like doing it, you might not want to when you don’t feel your best, but please do it anyway.  See, it’s not really about you.

That baby in your arms will be all grown up one day, and they’ll be so grateful for photos of the two of you together.

So hand your camera over to someone else and let them take a few photos of you snuggling your new baby.  You won’t regret it, I promise.

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