Life with a newborn – nothing can prepare you for the full impact, responsibility and sheer exhaustion that comes with it. Some people take it all in their stride, but not me.
I posted on the Norwich Mumbler FB page and Instagram today about a friend who has recently given birth to her first child and that I could tell from her messages that all the emotions have taken hold. I didn’t want to bombard her with advice or information, but I wanted her to know that it DOES GET BETTER.
I asked fellow Mumbler parents (well, Mums – I didn’t specify Mums but only one Dad has responded…so far!) what their advice to themselves pre-child would be and their responses were SO good I had to compile them for the website so it can be read by other new parents.
Thank you to all the Mums who shared what they wish they could go back and tell themselves.
Don’t compare yourself with anyone else (or your baby). It’s ok if it’s not love at first sight…it all comes in time. Take your time and go easy on yourself. Make sure there are plenty of snacks to eat with just one hand and warm socks for when you get stuck in the sofa and lastly… it’s a proper shock becoming a parent so talk about the ups and downs, don’t judge yourself and breathe ❤️ Suzy
Accept help when it’s offered. I was mortified when my friend came round and washed up for me. But I was grateful too because I couldn’t do it, I could barely stand from the c-section pain. I felt like I had to be strong and manage this tiny new person, breastfeeding, and have to behave like a normal person (shower, eat well, get dressed etc.) when some days were a total write off. Some days I ate tea and biscuits all day then felt guilty I hadn’t made dinner for my husband (he didn’t care and we got take-out). Those first couple of weeks are overwhelming, and everyone wants to see the new baby, but it’s okay to say ‘y’know I think I’m going to get an hours sleep while I can’. They will understand! And if they don’t, give them the baby after feeding so they puke on them. 😚 April
Yes, take all the help you can! I’d go further – when people come round to visit, don’t wait for them to offer to help, ask them (nicely) if they’d mind putting a wash on/loading the dishwasher/making tea. I remember finding myself making cups of tea for a houseful of guests at 5 days post c-section and wondering WTF I was doing. Now I’d be much more ready to ask them to make the tea! Liz
Never be too proud to ask for help and advice, it takes a village ❤Georgina
We also ended up in hospital as breastfeeding wasn’t working, I wish I’d given in and bottle fed sooner as it was soooo stressful and we ended up doing that anyway. It took some of the joy out of our first days/weeks and was just not working despite the support and loan of milking pumps etc. Our second breast fed immediately so always remember, what works for one does not necessarily work for another. Also, listen to advice, but remember you don’t always need to take it, there is no right or wrong. Helen
Invest in support and not nursery furniture. Be kind to yourself- it’s so okay to say it’s tough, it’s so okay to say it’s not what you expected! Motherhood (and fatherhood) is continuous growth and learning. Self acceptance and appreciation go a long way. ❤️(Keep cake in stock!) Shauna
Everyone seems to be handling it better than you, cool and calm on the surface but just remember everyone is paddling like mad not to drown under the surface! Hannah
Do back strengthening exercises and Pilates. No matter how small they are, your back will ache and without respite for you to put them down, it’s hard to “fix” it! Also don’t feel guilty about Anything! Also expect to be holding the baby at least 23 hours a day. That is ok 👌🏻 Jade
We had twins so you can imagine how crazy it was as first time parents 😂 I’d say – do what works for you! Gather all the advice and help you can and them make it work for you, if you and baby are happy then that’s all that matters, there’s no right or wrong but you can save a lot of frustration from trying to always follow everything to the letter. Clare
I’m a first time mum at 50! I think I cried with exhaustion every single day for that first year. I have no advise for my pre baby self as with hindsight it has all been worth it, I don’t think I could have changed anything, every sleepless night and day unavoidable, I survived on maybe 2 hours a day. I acted on gut instincts when she was poorly and so glad I did. We had no help She is now 21 months sleeps right through and is a total delight. I now a slightly more rested proud mummy. Claire
I’m a first time mum at 43, so when I gave birth I had total respect for every single mother out there, as I had finally experienced what my friends had done 10 years earlier. Being older I also didn’t put pressure on myself as I had seen it with all my friends. My advice don’t plan much for first 6 weeks, it’s stressful enough trying to get out of the house. Let people come to you but at same time no more then one a day. I use to have a nap in the afternoon, so I was ready for the night shift. My partner use to make up bottles of drink for me so I had something in the middle of the night. Just sit on sofa and have cuddles, or goes by so quickly. Lisa
I have had 3 kids and none of them really took 2 breastfeeding and one of best thing I got told is that it don’t matter how the baby is fed aslong as it’s well fed. Sophie
Stop stressing, you’re doing just fine, enjoy every little moment…and don’t cry at your midwife and husband, clutch your baby and walk off telling them you refuse to go back into hospital (we very luckily managed to turn things around at home. I’d spent so much time in hospital being ill in pregnancy that I was very determined I wasn’t going back 😂 Kelly
I would tell myself to trust my instincts. Anna
I wish I would have read this with my first. With 2nd baby I kinda new it was going to be tough but had no idea how much breastfeeding would hurt or the fact I would be feeding every 30 mins 😂 . She had a shallow latch and I was positioning wrong. If someone could of warned me about the baby blues also that would of been helpful…I wondered why I felt so tearful when my milk came in 🤔 Gemma
That sometimes you need to accept that things are all over the place and go with it. Babies don’t fit with what you expect, listen to them and don’t always look for answers as this can cause so much heartache. Be kind to yourself, pregnancy, birthing, emotions it’s a tough slog and you’ve been through it all in such a short space of time. It’s okay to not be okay, but seek help when it’s not – revel in the kindness of strangers. It’s okay to close ranks and enjoy your new born you do not need to pass baby around like a prize. Be prepared to hold your baby for most of the day and night, the minutes feel like a lifetime but the years speed by, you won’t regret the extra cuddles. Nearly everything is a phase and you have strength beyond what you imagined to cope. And lastly. Never forget that you created somthing so very beautiful. You did this, and you have totally got this – don’t judge yourself by what the Instagram generation is showing you. Linda
Best bit of advice – do what YOU feel is right!! Sara
💕💕 mine would be, take ‘helpful comments’ from well meaning family with a pinch of salt. They raised babies a long time ago! Trust your own instincts and your own research. And don’t get mum guilt get the better of you.Jo
The hardest transition is 0 to 1. No phase lasts forever- good or bad! Everything else u learn from experiences. No one is perfect and it’s bloody hard, but those little hands and hearts that rely upon you are worth it. Claire
Listen to advice but do not feel pressured to act on all of it, do what works for you and your family it doesn’t matter how others do it or what their babies are doing!Caroline
Ask for help if it’s needed, whatever form it needs to come in. Accept help. People want to! Do not keep it bottled in, talk, be honest. If you’re low tell people. Don’t be afraid to talk to health professionals. I didn’t and ended up in trouble and very depressed. You are what your baby wants and needs and they need you to be healthy. And always, always fed is best. Breastfeeding is only part of the journey it doesn’t make you a better or worse mum even though it might feel like it. I wish I could have but if I’d tried to carry on something bad would have happened as was adding to depression. I still feel guilty but can recognise the good it did all of us when I stopped. Get as much sleep as possible whenever you can. Basically look after yourself. Your baby can’t be as happy and healthy if you’re don’t. It’s tough times, but it is worth it. Angie
My advice to myself would be to not rush to ‘do’ stuff and read as much quality info about breastfeeding as possible and know where to get support before it gets bad. Sophie
Forget that pre- baby you used to stay up until late watching box sets and films – go to bed early- just to try and survive the sleep deprivation!Laura
Always always that fed is best, in whatever form works for you. I made myself utterly miserable breastfeeding and after three bouts of severe mastitis my daughter was finally recognised as having palate problems that made us “fundamentally incompatible” for breastfeeding. Switching to formula riddled me with guilt but both baby and I were ultimately happy and healthier for it. Emily
We also ended up in hospital as breastfeeding wasn’t working, I wish I’d given in and bottle fed sooner as it was soooo stressful and we ended up doing that anyway. It took some of the joy out of our first days/weeks and was just not working despite the support and loan of milking pumps etc. Our second breast fed immediately so always remember, what works for one does not necessarily work for another. Also, listen to advice, but remember you don’t always need to take it, there is no right or wrong.Helen
This resonates so much with me and the birth of my first child. It was the hardest time of my life and I often wonder how I can help other new parents prepare. One single piece of practical advice I wish someone had told me: GET YOUR BABY CHECKED FOR A TONGUE TIE AS SOON AS THEY ARE BORN. After four months struggling to breastfeed my baby, I begged my GP to check for a tongue tie. He was diagnosed and had it snipped by the amazing team at the Norfolk and Norwich hospital. Second baby, tongue tie diagnosed at birth and snipped on day 7…a dream breastfeeder and massive baby ❣️Katy
Advice I would give to myself… Do not put so much pressure on yourself to have a natural birth and breast feed, because you know sometimes these things are not possible! There is so much pressure for the “perfect birth” Do not beat yourself up of you do not feel as ecstatic as you thought you would feel at being a new mum and if the ” baby blues” carried on, go get help! You are not alone on this journey, there are people to talk to. Finally take the time to reward yourself, look what you help create, a bundle of perfection, you clever woman! Michelle
Don’t Google everything after birth, it is generally the enemy. Your sleep deprived self cannot process all the information and before you know it you think you have given birth to a complete alien! Lissie
I would say don’t let any one over, stay in a little baby bubble for as long as you want. Worst think I did the first time around was having visitors, 3rd time we had no one round for a week and it was so good to just be the 5 of us but the end of the week I needed to get out before I went crazy. Also not to listen to others when it comes to feeding, I also have massive guilt over not breastfeeding my first for long and I don’t think I’ll ever get over it. Emily
I would tell myself to actually nap when the baby did because it’s much harder to do when you have an older child AND a newborn. Lauren
Make sure that you and your partner are working as a team. Don’t be stubborn, accept the offer of a nap! Craig
My advice to anyone…happy mum, happy baby!! On day 7 here with my third and I have by far been my calmest, it’s took 3 bloody babies to get to this stage though! I’ve only put on proper clothes today, been living in PJ’s and making the most of staying in bed for as long as possible and my body has thanked me for it this time!!! Tell her she’s got this and to take each day as it comes!Catherine
Take each moment slowly know it’s ok to not feel how society expects you to feel and do what makes both you and baby happy! I’m a proud mum to two girls my 3 year old I breastfed until her sister was a month old, however my youngest only breastfed to 6 months there’s 22 months between them. Don’t compare yourself to others but also don’t be afraid to ask for help. I never had PND with my first year my second I developed it and now suffer with situational anxiety. Every baby, every mum and every experiences are different. Katherine
Yes, breastfeeding can be sore to begin with and an anxiety-riddled nightmare at the start, but it WILL get better…yes, everything hurts from labour, but it WILL get better…yes, it’s completely normal to cry your heart out on night 2/3 because everything is overwhelming and your hormones are everywhere, but it WILL get better…no, you’re not doing anything wrong. It WILL get better!! Katrin
If you’d like to add your advice to your pre-child self, or you’d like to add a photo of your newborn, send them to firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll add them on.