I am a first-time Mum to little four month old Rose and I thought I'd share with you my top eight tips for getting through new motherhood - now that I've survived the newborn phase! I'm so excited for Vicki and Dave becoming first-time parents and hopefully their little one will be a wee buddy for Rose. I talk about my new family life and alot more besides on my blog Willow Lane. Thanks to Vicki for inviting me to guest blog on The Magpie Girl!
1. Accept a helping hand...or two or three
If you're fortunate enough to have family and friends nearby and they are kind enough to offer their help then do not hesitate to say 'yes please'. You know the old saying 'it takes a village to raise a child' and this is so true. I couldn't have got through the first few months without the thoughtful gestures of my family, specifically my parents and in-laws. Along with my partner Phill, they helped look after Rose, giving me time to nap, or get on with something other than holding/feeding/cleaning Rose. I had meals cooked for me, washing and ironing done, groceries bought. It meant I didn't feel quite so overwhelmed with being a new mum.
2. Order everything online
I always classed myself as an old fashioned shopper. I like to make most of my purchases in store. But once you have a baby, the thought of leaving the house in the early days and going shopping is too much to bear. I bought alot of baby goods like nappies and baby wipes in bulk via Amazon. And for the first time ever I did my monthly grocery shop online. Not only does it work out cheaper (you're less inclined to impulse buy...apparently) but it saves you a lot of arm and leg work too! And most importantly it saves you time! Rather than wondering the isles of shops for hours I can get my monthly shop done online in about 10 minutes. And whilst we're talking ordering online, you'll no doubt be ordering a lot of takeaways too...
3. Give yourself over to the sofa
Your sofa will be become your home for the first few months as a parent to a newborn. So make sure you have a comfortable one! But don't be silly enough to purchase a new one before the baby arrives (think baby spew). Most of your time will be spent staring, cradling and feeding your baby on the sofa. You'll also get lots of visitors so, again more sitting on the sofa is compulsory. So get comfortable and make sure you have plenty of great tv series and biscuits on hand to work your way through! Whilst I'm now convinced I have a flat bum, know that your life won't always be confined to the sofa. And that reminds me, I need to go do some bum squats...
4. Take copious amounts of newborn pics & videos
This is a forgone conclusion. Never before have you seen a more beautiful child that your own, and so not a day will pass that you won't take several pics of said child. Capturing your little one pull cute little faces will get you through those difficult times when they are crying constantly. Don't forget to actually print some of your pictures and create an album of your little ones first few months. If you don't do it early on, chances are you never will. I also love taking videos of my little one and have created a few mini movies of special moments. Your child will thank you for this in years to come! My parents always filmed my brother and I at Christmas and on holiday and I love to look back on these.
5. Seek out help if you need it...but be wary of information overload
I am breastfeeding Rose and in those early weeks I struggled with soreness and seeked help from all sources. From my Mum, to Youtube videos and breastfeeding support groups (online and offline), I looked for advice in every corner, but at times became overwhelmed with differing information. In the end I overcame my breastfeeding struggles...but then I started googling sleep routines. Many people will tell you to trust your instincts as a new mum and I couldn't agree more...but certainly seek help from qualified professionals and other mums as it will often prove invaluable.
6. Download baby apps to help your baby brain
I found apps like My Medela, Emma's Diary and The Wonder Weeks so helpful...and still do! I used My Medela to track breastfeeding sessions, as well as sleep and nappy changes. It's amazing how you can't retain simple information like what time you last fed your baby! So having an app on your phone that you can record such information is ideal. I used the Emma's Diary app during my pregnancy and afterwards too. It's full of helpful info on baby development and hints and tips on baby feeding and sleeping etc. The Wonder Weeks was an app that was recommended to me by a fellow mum at a baby group. It's based on the well-known The Wonder Weeks book which believes all baby's go through certain developmental 'leaps' in the first few years. The app prepares you for the different changes your baby is likely to be going through. It helps me be more in tune with my baby and alert to the big changes her brain and body are going through.
7. Get out for some fresh air
Whilst it can be oh-so-tempting to hibernate for days and days, it's definitely important to get outside for some fresh air - for you and the baby. Sometimes I would almost feel claustrophobic in the house and when things got a bit on top of me I would almost feel the house closing in on me. I made an effort to get out on walks with Rose and to meet friends for a bit of lunch. Getting outside can give you perspective...plus it's rather nice when people coo over your baby, making you feel as proud as punch!
8. Take a bath...and breathe!
There's no denying it, having a baby is exhausting and emotional. You will have some major highs and lows. Many people say new mums get the baby blues a few days after the birth but for me it was a few weeks later when I started crying in the car to Phill. Breastfeeding was really taking it out of me and I felt bad about feeling negative about it. But a good cry, a nap and a bath helped me rationalise things. It's so important to set aside a little time for yourself, so you can rest and feel like 'you'. Just remember that the newborn stage doesn't last forever. Give yourself over to your baby but seek out time to do something you love.