I am a mum of two little girls and every day I watch them grow and feel so lucky to have them both but being a new parent also comes with its challenges.
I am a childcare expert and have extensive training in child development. I have spent over twenty years working in the childcare sector and have been lucky enough to meet thousands of parents, babies and children and have extensive training. However nothing prepares you for the first few months of being a parent as we are all individuals and so are our babies.
There is much information now, both in books and on social media, about the best ways to parent our children but children follow their own paths and are all very different individuals.
I spent many years teaching new mums parenting skills and setting up support groups for those suffering from postnatal depression and anxiety so thought I was well prepared for mother hood! Nothing prepared me for events when my first daughter started to arrive! Suddenly my body was taking control of labour and for a moment I felt, “this is not what the book said or what the birth preparation classes prepared me for”.
After the birth of my first daughter I was home very quickly and I am sure, like other new mums, felt tired and slightly nervous at taking this new little person home. She was just so tiny and I was now responsible for attending to all her needs. As mums we often forget that we must look after ourselves emotionally and physically too.
I think the biggest concern as a mum is feeding and sleep. Often feeding, whether bottle or breast, can be a challenge as we worry whether our babies are having enough or are having too little. We may feel a real pressure to breast feed and sometimes it doesn’t work which can be a very upsetting experience. I found at day four when my milk came in I was so tearful and my daughter spent most of the day screaming at me so I felt I could not do anything to help the situation other than to lie in the bath and try to feed that way—it worked!
We often do not feel we can discuss how our hormones and emotions run wild after having a baby even though it is a normal part of being a parent. We should all feel supported and that we are not alone as almost every new mum has some of these feelings.
I remember on many occasions ringing my husband as I needed extra emotional support and was still learning about our baby and what her needs were.
Sleep and lack of it is another cause for concern for a new parent. The truth of the matter is some babies sleep and are able to sleep for longer periods from an early age and others may not be able to sleep until they are much older. We also talk about the importance of babies learning to self soothe and this again is a developmental issue which is reached at different times for different babies. We need patience and practice.
As a mum of two I had one baby who slept through the night from 11 months old and another daughter who did not sleep until the age of three and needed more support and cuddles through the night. Now she’s four she is a great sleeper and so are we!
I became very interested in the power of touch and relaxation early in my career and have a real passion for its importance for new parents. It helps so much to feel able to just enjoy the early months of being a mum without all the outside influence of social media and books.
It takes time for us to understand our babies’ needs and different cries and we need to have time to sit and relax and enjoy all the cuddles we can get as our children grow so fast. No-one ever looks back and feels they cuddled their baby or child too much!
Babies need to be close to you in the early weeks and your love, aroma and smile are all they need to grow and develop if they are feeding well.
I thought is would be helpful for new mums to have some information to help them to relax and enjoy the early weeks:
Spend an hour relaxing in late afternoon as it’s important your baby is not over stimulated as this will cause upset and will not encourage sleep.
Follow the 90 minute rule as babies will often need another sleep after 90 mins
5.30 Bath time
5.45 Baby massage listening to relaxed music
6.pm get baby dressed in bedtime clothes
6.15pm milk in bedroom (dimmed lighting)
6..30pm (Bed time)
This routine can be flexible but babies do need a good long sleep so expect them to sleep from 6.30pm- 6.30- 7.30 am.
Both my daughters are now at school and, my goodness, how I cried when they started. I look back and am so grateful that I was able to just enjoy my babies and to watch every smile and giggle.
Megan De Kok
Bibble&Bubble will soon post ideas to help with babies suffering with colic and reflux and we will also be looking at “hold to help” at night if your baby is windy.