Tips For First Time Mums — Newborn Edition
The first 3 months of becoming a Mum were pretty damn hard for me, so here is what helped me the most from newborn to 12 weeks and what I would go back and tell myself!
Day/night association: I started this while I was pregnant and I truly feel it carried through for my girl when she entered the world! Every morning when I woke up, I would take the covers off my belly, lift my shirt and let the morning sun shine on my belly. Azura would kick and wake up with me. If we woke later than that little window of sunshine, then I'd go outside into the light. She has always been the best night sleeper! Now we do similar - in the morning when she wakes up (I let her wake, we don't go off a schedule), I'll open up the blinds and she'll blink sleepily with big smiles. Throughout the day as a newborn I slept her in the bassinet in our loungeroom without closing the blinds at all, and now as a 4 month old she'll still happily sleep either in a dark room or in the bright lounge room. When it's becoming dark, again we don't have a routine, I'll just feed her when she wants to start her wind down/night feed (which is a huge one as it gets her through for hours during the night! That's all witching hour is - your baby loading up for the night), and in between changing boobs or burping I'll take her out onto the balcony so she can get some night air, see that it's dark outside and get that natural melatonin boost.
Dream feeds: Probably another supporting action of our great sleeps ☺️ I think dream feeds can mean different things to different people, but for me it's feeding my baby while she's asleep. I stumbled across this one by accident one night when she was about 1 1/2 months old, completely exhausted, and had slept 5 hours straight without a feed. So I picked her up, popped her on the boob, she fed while staying asleep then went straight back down! We do it every night now. She goes to sleep around 7pm, she'll start wriggling a little around 1-2am (still asleep) so I'll pick her up, pop her on the boob, after 10 minutes she'll pull off, stretch, and go straight back down, all without opening her eyes. She feeds soo calmly and smoothly when she's asleep too! Sometimes I'll give her another one around 5am, but she doesn't open her eyes at all from 7pm to 7am the next morning 🥰
Midnight snacks: You're gonna get realll hungry when you hit 4am, and you may not have the chance to make a proper breaky at 7am, so grab a snack to keep you going. My go to was apple slices!
Help in the morning: For those first few weeks, the greatest thing that made me feel human and made a positive impact on the day to come was actually being able to wash my face, brush my teeth, put my hair up, have a quick shower if I was still bleeding, put the washing on and make breakfast. I had my mother in law next door so occasionally she would come over to hold bub while I did these things, and my goodness it was the highlight of my day during that difficult period. If you live with family or have help close by, please use it!
Preparation: Thank heavens I'm a Virgo so this part is easy for me, but preparation will help you soo much as a new Mum. You really are going to have such limited time to yourself or to have your hands free, so do as much as you can while you can. Prepare your morning the night before, get your breakfast as ready as possible, cut your leftover lasagna up into bite size pieces for when you heat it up for lunch, make everything one handed as much as you can.
Stock your freezer: Because there’s no time to cook, really, for quite a while. And you do not want that responsibility on top of everything else you're juggling right now either!
Drop the to-do list: Because the only thing you need to do right now, is be a mumma to that gorgeous little bundle of yours. Become comfortable with your only achievement for the day being keeping that child alive, not crossing off a to-do list. You will have time to yourself again. You will start to be productive again, be able to make delicious (proper!) meals again, you will finally have time to sit and journal to get all those thoughts out of your mind, and truly it's not that far away! Just surrender to this moment, right now.
Delete the apps: I really wish I could go back and tell myself that a baby does not have a routine for at least the first two months, even three. Trying to find a pattern in feeds and sleeps is a waste of time and only a cause of anxiety! Even when they do reach that 3 month mark, if tracking feeds, changes, and sleep on an app gives you anxiety/becomes too stressful, don’t. I still don't now, I'll only make a note of when her last sleep and feed was so I can generally track her wake windows and when she could be hungry again, but this is so fluid and I follow her cues for everything.
Drink lots of water: I'm not a fan of water (weird, I know) but my god since giving birth and breastfeeding, I absolutely guzzle it as much as my gal guzzles her milk. Always have water in the fridge or a filter prepared if that's the only way you like it. I only drink mine icy cold, so I bought a Bink Mama Bottle as you can fit icecubes in it.
Dummy: I was against dummies while I was pregnant, as I thought they were just a pacifier to 'shut them up'. Oh no. Well, maybe for some parents, but never for me. I use a dummy only for sleep association, because that works for us. When she's ready for a nap, she gets cradled in my arms, rocked, with her dummy in, and she knows it's sleep time. Family members have tried using it just during awake time like in the pram but I quickly let them know it's only for sleep association. It's also useful if you feed to sleep, as they may fall asleep on the boob and use it as a pacifier, so you can slip the nipple out and if they start to look for it, just pop the dummy in to keep them content ☺️ (be sure they aren't still feeding though, as you don't want them to suck and swallow air once the dummy is in).
Burpies: Sounds simple and silly but, it took me a little to get this. Always burp your little one after a feed, otherwise you may sabotage a good sleep for the both of you! Even when I dream feed, I'll stand up with her in my arms and burp her just to make sure (even though 99% of the time she doesn't burp after a night feed). I've found that if she's asleep in bed but fussing, she needs to burp, also if she's acting silly on the boob - stop and burp!
Follow wake windows: We don't have a routine and will feed on demand and sleep on demand, but it took me too long (and a lot of frustration later) to learn what wake windows are and how to follow them. I'd feed Azura in the morning, change her, then she wouldn't settle back to sleep after 5-10 mins so I'd think "okay, time to get up and start the day!" and proceed to keep her away for another hour on top of that while I had breakfast and started our day. I was starting her day by keeping her awake for wayyy too long! Even now, she only wants to be awake in the morning literally just long enough for a feed and change, then straight back to sleep. If we nail the first nap of the day, then the rest of our day naps are so much easier!
Learn how to settle your baby to sleep: Oh man, out of everything I'd probably put most of my energy into this. I spent countless hours trying to settle my baby to get her to nap during the day, and I was only ever able to feed her to sleep, which actually ended up in her having stomach pains because she was overfeeding! Becoming confident with putting your baby to sleep without only the boob will ease so much anxiety and make you feel more empowered as a mother.