The arrival of a brand new baby into your home is arguably one of the strangest, and greatest experiences that anyone can have. I mean, a tiny little human who is 50% made up of your genes? That really is both mind-blowing and incredible. Well done Nature… well done… *applause*
However, nothing can truly prepare you for those first few weeks of screaming, sleeping, crying and feeding.
Here are my top 5 tips on how to pull through those first few weeks:
When Baby Sleeps, You Sleep:
It is no huge secret that babies screw up your sleeping pattern. The reality is that babies have tiny stomachs and can only cry and scream to communicate. Whether your partner is breastfeeding or bottle feeding, you will find that your littl’un will normally feed every 1-3 hours. So just accept that you will not be sleeping through the night any time soon.
In the first few weeks of my son’s life I remember crashing out wherever and whenever I could. If I could catch 60 minutes of snooze on the sofa while baby slept, that would be heaven in my eyes. If I could sneak 10 minutes in the bath, bonus! If baby is asleep, put aside everything else – including washing, cleaning and tidying – and join him/her in Slumberland. It’s definitely the place to be; and the less tired you are, the more patience you will have to care for your baby.
Work as a Team:
Very few great tasks are conquered alone; and caring for a new-born is definitely one of the struggles that will test the strength of your character. There will be times in which you are so tired that you can stand no more and having a screaming child in your ear is enough to drive you crazy. In which case, cue the baby swap!
Remember that there are two of you which means you can take it in shifts. Whether your partner is breastfeeding or not you can still work as a team. Every time mummy feeds, daddy can change baby’s nappy. If mummy is exhausted – which, if she’s breastfeeding she 100% will be – take the baby for an hour or so and let her rest. Put aside all of your personal needs and help each other out; it makes a monumental difference.
HOLD THEIR FEET!
This one strikes a particularly strong chord with me. Imagine your baby waking you up at 3:30am. You’ve had a good 45 minutes sleep since the last feed/change. You’re body aches, your eyes are heavy as boulders and you want nothing more than to settle your child so that you can sleep. As you place your baby on the changing matt and open his nappy the first thing he/she does is wiggle their feet all around the stinking, sticky mess that they have made. Great.
Ever since my son’s first dirty nappy change I’ve made it the utmost priority to ensure that his feet are held at all times. Like a moth to a flame, your child wild find a way to paddle in their poop; and when you’re exhausted from those sleepless nights and days the last thing you want to be doing is holding slippy, faeces-laden feet that smear everything on your hands – it doesn’t matter how soft their feet are!
For the first few weeks of their life – and I know that all mums will invariably disagree with this – babies are incredibly dull. In contrast to the happy, smiling, cute bundle of joy that you have envisioned for months, what you actually have is a small blob of person that eats, sleeps, poops and cries. The reality hits you that it will be a little while before your littl’un becomes more interesting, so here’s how to get through the late nights and the crying…
Find a hobby that you can do while static. In a situation in which you are – as my partner calls it – ‘baby-pinned’, you want to find some way to stay awake and to help you pass the time. For me, I found that Netflix was a godsend. Countless nights I would sit exhausted while holding my son, fighting to stay awake. So on would come Netflix, and I would sit for hours watching the latest seasons of Breaking Bad while my boy would be rocked gently to sleep.
You’re happy, he’s happy.
Sleepless nights, lack of food and drink – you will forget to nourish yourself – and a longing for a shower is enough to put anyone in a grumpy mood. But at all times make sure that you don’t lose your patience with your new-born.
Babies are incredibly sensitive to lots of stimuli. They are taking in an exciting new world and it can be incredibly scary at times for them. Therefore, as easy as it is to lose your temper with a child that seems inconsolable, I can guarantee that it will do you no favours. New-borns can sense your upset, and will return this feeling with their own anguish, thus continuing a vicious cycle of turmoil. Keep patient, accept that this is your life for a little while and that your baby is not crying to p*** you off; eventually they will feel your calm and settle easier. Trust me.
It’s amazing how the arrival of a brand new baby can bring together family and friends. Everyone is as excited as you were to meet your brand new person, and everyone will offer to help you out with babysitting – especially family. Take their offer! For the first 2 weeks of my son’s life we were never alone in the house. Every day saw a new guest who would lovingly offer to help us out; whether that was to hold him for a little while whilst we slept; whether it was to help us tidy the house; or even just to feed us. The help was invaluable and definitely helps you set your life on the right track. Don’t be too proud.
So there it is! You may have your own opinions on the first few weeks of parenthood, but these are my top tips that helped me stay sane enough to survive.
All images are the works and copyrights of Danielle Guenther Photography.