Last month we celebrated Paisley’s 1st birthday. I didn’t cry like a lot of my Mum friends said I would, I think I may still be coming to terms with the fact my baby is now heading towards being a toddler and we have even more amazing milestones ahead of us! That or I’m yet to have my sugar crash from all the cake I ate…
So instead of a big birthday post sharing all the things we got up to while celebrating (will post about our holiday to Belgium at a later date) I thought I’d share a few things I’ve learnt these last 12 months and hope they’ll be something either you can relate to or you take away with you if you’re due to be a new mum.
Things I’d tell my new mum self…
Whatever decisions you’ve made, don’t shy away if you’re proud. We tend to be quite self-deprecating as Mum’s and never give ourselves credit for a lot of things when it comes to bringing up our babies. Like breastfeeding. For me I was very determined to do it and that stubbornness paid off through some challenging times! I’m super proud of making it to a year and there’s no sign of us stopping soon but sometimes my eagerness to share my love of all things breastfeeding isn’t seen as encouragement but boasting. I’m pretty sure they’ll be a post on that soon… be proud!
This is something that is still a work in progress with me but felt it needed to be mentioned. We all add pressure to ourselves, or at least I know I did way before I even thought about having babies. It obviously has it’s upsides striving for perfection while running your own business but can also have downsides on a personal level. Acceptance brings peace was something a health professional told me to remember and it makes sense but it’s something I am still working on if I’m honest. Think about it though, if we could accept the situation we are in at that moment then we could learn to go with it. This goes for so many things with a new baby, we read all sorts and worry we are doing wrong or feel we need to do something else because everyone else seems to be doing it…it’s not always the case.
A good example for us at the moment is sleep. Doesn’t everyone’s baby seem to sleep when yours isn’t? Paisley is a frequent waker and although she does go straight back to sleep after a feed/comfort suckle there’s been some nights that those feeds have been hourly and that can get to even the most patient of souls. Some nights I’m fine with it and I need to work on having more of those nights. Teeth, growing, development, feeling ill or scared are all going to make each night different to the next, I accept that now and hope it will bring us all peace even if it doesn’t bring sleep! It is helping that more and more Mum’s I’m chatting to have babies and toddlers who don’t do the full 12 hours…
Ask for help
It doesn’t make you a failure or a rubbish mum by asking for another pair of hands every now and then. In the early days we had people pop over for an hour here or there so we could catch up on sleep and I even had my Mum over helping get the house back in order. My husband will be the first to tell you I’m not exactly one to prioritise house work but seriously,get someone else to do it if you can and make the most of that time getting to grips with being a new Mum!
I had one friend point me in the right direction to find a Nappy Library (yes, they do exist and they’re amazing. You can hire a nappy kit to allow you to try before you buy full of cute reuseable nappies in different styles and shapes), another sent me her Moby stretchy wrap (which then got me a little addicted to babywearing) and another sent me amazing cookie recipes to help keep my milk flowing. If I’d not been asking about things they may not have shared these wonderful things with me.
With feeding I had my midwife supporting me and they also put me in touch not only with my local children’s centre, The Grove, but also an amazing Breastfeeding Support charity called F.A.B (Families and Babies). They actually sent a peer support lady round and she sat with us and helped build my confidence up with feeding. The best thing out of that was her introducing me to feeding laying down! I wouldn’t have known about that if I hadn’t have asked for help.
More recently I have even asked for help regarding feeling overwhelmed with work and the baby. This one I’m still working on too…
Batch Cooking/ Home-made Freezer meals
Making meals to freeze while pregnant is the best idea EVER (Paul Vickery’s sausage casserole was the biggest hit). I must’ve done a couple of weeks worth of doubling up when doing tea in those last few weeks before the baby arrived and they kept us going for those first few months. Not only for ease but helping us eat well and not reaching for the takeaway menu. You can even freeze things like cookie dough (oat based cookies are great for breastfeeding mums) so you can have treats to keep your energy up.
Go to Antenatal classes
Knowledge is power and our free courses at the local hospital (Ormskirk) may have been basic but the tour and breastfeeding class helped us discuss things that meant a lot to us (like pain relief, pool/water birth and bf support ). We found out lots of things that helped prepare us (like how partners aren’t allowed to stay overnight…that was a scary thought) and it gave us tools to use during the early stages of labour. I was really worried my yogic breathing and wanting a water birth would give me ‘hippy’ status amongst the other parents but the midwife was very pro natural birth and very encouraging about breathing and water being really good for pain relief and to utilise that before asking for anything else (much to the shock of other Mum’s there!).
I LOVE a bit of research
If it wasn’t for me pouring over research about breastfeeding, natural births, hypnobirthing, yoga, fitness during pregnancy, cloth nappies and all the other stuff I came across I’m sure I’d still be a little lost right now. It’s amazing what you can find out when you’re on a mission! I’m not a fan of Dr Google so always avoided that but found ‘safe’ places to read up on things and I think it made for a more confident pregnant person and eventually new Mum. It helped me confirm if what I’d initially decided was right for me was in fact right for me, and for my husband and for the baby. I made use of any spare time I had by preparing myself for our baby and even had the nappy kit all ready for her arrival!
Whether that’s with Mum’s you know, your own Mum or health professionals or even on Mummy forums/groups. I see lots of Facebook statuses from pregnant friends seemingly unhappy all the bits of advice they’re getting from well meaning friends. In all honesty,if it wasn’t for some of those bits of advice early on I may have been in for quite a shock during those first few weeks post birth. Okay, some people were all for the horror stories and I’d have to take myself away from those people but you’re in control. If you’re wanting a natural birth with no pain relief and someone is telling you you HAVE to have an epidural the pain is that unbearable tell them thank you but you’ll give it a go your way. You can pick and choose what advice you want to take on board. Pick the brains of Mum friends you trust and I’m sure once baby arrives they’ll be happy to support you then too (see previous post on asking for help!!)
Trust your instincts
One of my only regrets is that at the very end of my birth I let the doctors tell me what was right for me and my baby. Up to that point,with the support of my husband and amazing midwives, I’d gone past my due date (by 12 days!!!) and refused any interventions and talks of induction. I stayed strong and confident that my baby would come when she’s ready and my body would know what to do. I still beat myself up a little that I felt I lost control at that point but know if there’s a second one I will have the experience along with the confidence to make sure it goes the way I want. Honestly, looking back at the last year my Mother’s instinct really did impress not only me but my husband. You sort of know exactly what your baby wants after watching them and looking out for queues. They’re amazing at somehow telling you what it is they want and if you listen you’ll work it out together I promise (even when it feels like you’ve tried everything, you’ll find something…).
Enjoy buying all you baby bits. I wouldn’t go mad and get loads of outfits (try dressing a floppy baby in a pretty dress and petticoat…sleepsuit every day, especially when they’re being sick and having those lovely breastfed poos every day) but it’s so nice getting their drawers and wardrobes ready with those fresh, soft basics. Soak it all in, every last bit. The house can wait. Get family to help if a messy house drives you that mad. Enjoy those tiny baby snuggles as I’m sure by now everyone has been telling you they really do go soooooo fast. Take advantage of anything that will help make your journey less challenging, whether that be support from professionals or family and friends. It will be challenging at times, there’s no denying that, but also so rewarding. One day very soon you will be sat with a sleeping 1 year old laying across you wondering where those days went…