Things to remember during the first 12 weeks

The first 12 weeks of parenthood are pretty much the hardest. It doesn’t matter how many books you read or how many baby’s you have looked after in the past. This will be the craziest, most sleep deprived, magical and terrifying weeks of your life.

No one can prepare you for how becoming a parent affects you. Everyone is different, every baby is different but when your first baby is born your world will turn on its side and shake rather hard for a while.

It will be a time that will feel like forever when you are in it, but will go by so fast. However hard those first weeks are you will look back and pine for those cuddly newborn days when your baby was so tiny.

There will be so many wonderful moments but in the harder ones please remember the following things:

  • Sit down. You just grew a human being and went through labour. Labour is called labour for a reason so however hard or easy yours is remember you must rest. It is hard when this tiny baby needs you every moment of the day or night but sit and cuddle and feed that tiny person and don’t try and do too much else. Your body needs to recover and there is nothing wrong for the first few weeks in letting your household chores go completely, not showering and staying in your pyjamas the majority of the time. It really is one of the few times that no one will judge you for this so embrace it!

  • Don’t expect to great at it. You become a mother when you give birth but no one knows instantly what they are doing. As with any job you have to do it for a while to find your feet and confidence to do it well. This is something brand new you will get things wrong and that’s ok.

  • Don’t feel guilty if the bond doesn’t happen straight away. This is one I don’t think people like to tell you. I know many mums, myself included, who did not feel an instant all singing all dancing other worldy connection to their baby. Often after a difficult labour you are just so tired and overwhelmed it can all feel very strange. You do not know your baby yet and they don’t know you. If it takes a little time that is ok and very common. I felt the connection straight away with my second son as he was a very easy and quick birth but the love I feel for them both now is in no way different.

  • Don’t let the pressure to breastfeed ruin those weeks. If you can breastfeed and you find it easy of course please do it as long as is right for you and your family. Know that it does not come naturally to most and takes a lot of practice and often a little pain to get it right. If the feeding is not going well and you want to use a bottle that is ok. Often establishing mixed feeding early on whether through pumped breastmilk or formula can mean it’s not all on you and your husband or other family members can help. Try those first few weeks if you can. If it is causing you endless tears and trauma then look at alternatives. Yes breast is best but not at the expense of an unhappy mother, baby or both.

  • Take a million pictures. They will change every day when they are small so get those first smiles and gurgles whenever you can. You will love looking back at them when your baby is older and wonder how they grew so fast.

  • It gets better. Yes new babies are wonderful but let’s face it they don’t do much and the constant feeding, changing, sleeping routine can get tiresome. They get bigger and won’t need to be held all day, demand a feed every two hours, wake up all night. They will eventually learn to talk and become much more interesting company.

  • Take them out! Go for a walk or sit in a restaurant. Once you are fully recovered from the birth make the most of the phase where they sleep a lot and cannot move. Once they are on the go trips to cafes and restaurants become a lot more challenging. If you are nervous to feed in public remember that your baby has a right to eat and anyone who is offended by it can eat elsewhere. It is good to practice if you feel nervous in a quieter café and with friends or other mums who you feel comfortable with.

  • The most important thing to remember is that this is your baby and your family. How you raise him or her is down to you and no one else. You will think people are judging you at first but often they are just looking at you and reminiscing when they were at your stage or wishing they too had a tiny person to look after. So smile and get on with being exactly the parent you want to be.

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