Advice for New Mums
You can go your own way. This post seems way too obvious. And yet I can still remember my mum dropping the whole “you don’t have to follow every bit of advice” bombshell on me. I was genuinely quite gobsmacked at her rebellion and quickly returned to my LONG list of questions, ready for when I cornered the health visitors at biggest’s weekly weigh in. I can’t remember the list now, but the colour of his most recent poo, reluctance to SLEEP and a general query on what on earth to expect next no doubt featured.
There is (and of course should be) so much advice for new mums*; how to feed, how you should be getting them to sleep, routines….should you have one or not? What to do if… At the start I just wanted to know what to do and when. There were systems and flowcharts to follow at work; I had been on behavioural management courses for crying out loud. I was competent back then. But now what??? Photos of different baby faces alongside their needs were given by well meaning health visitors and midwives. I just felt so lost. I felt like I had no instincts. Everyone had slightly different ideas. An actual formula would have been fantastic.
I held on and we came out the other side, working out which bits of advice fitted with us along the way. My favourite nuggets** are below for anyone that wants them. The whole ‘new baby thing’ was so much easier with number two (we will gloss over the juggling two thing for now) as I was ready for the fact that they essentially just feed, sleep, cry, poo (and finally smile) for months on end.
The Other Side
You will be on this side before you know it – and on this other side, you want to help. You want your friends and family with new babies to have as easy a time as possible because it is SO HARD. Suddenly you will have your own advice for new mums. As my memories of how hard it is fade, I have to remind myself that an easy time is not built on people bombarding you with what worked for them (and what didn’t work!). It’s about a confidence in your own choices. Time and space to find your own right way. And a lot of self care.
I remember giving what I thought was my politest, nicest ‘no thank you’ to an offer (from someone on the other side) to hold my grizzly, nap needing baby. Only to be told that “when B was a baby I always said yes to offers to hold her; it was good for her to socialise with different people”. B was a lovely sociable girl at the time so I was obviously failing. The memory is so clear because it was a bit of a body blow at the time; when you are a few weeks into parenting and (feel like) you don’t know what you’re doing, words mean a lot.
Mummy knows best
My lovely, cheekily assertive friend used to swear by this phrase 🙂 She would have cheerfully sung it to the lady above!
And essentially she was so right. You do know what you’re doing! You’re getting to know your little one. So what if you’re using books, websites, blogs, experts, friends, family and not least of all your instincts as great sources and resources. You already know them better than anybody else. Perhaps better than you realise.
You will get there and you’re doing amazing. Probably more amazing than you realise too! Be sure to remember that everyone is offering advice because everyone finds it so HARD and overwhelming with a new baby – even if time has rose tinted the memories!! That is why they want to share and help; its more about them than you.
Your needs are way more important than you treat them for those first few weeks. So, if you do spot a chance to go easy on yourself – grab it with both hands and a ye-ha!! Be confident that it is normal to take time working out what works for this new, amazing individual in your life, complete with their own unique set of sensitivities (that last phrase being from our lovely health visitor, no wonder I used to hang on to her advice so much!). And remember that you’re doing amazing. Leaving that here in case you missed it above.
**My favourite advice for new mums – which may or may not be for you – at the start it is always naptime (and that’s okay) and ‘don’t worry about how you get them to sleep’. Like ever.