Things That All First Time Parents Should Know

By Lynsey 8 months ago

Be realistic

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One of the best pieces of advice you can receive as a new parent to be is be realistic. Having a baby is a huge adjustment. Not only to you and your body, but to your life - and no, that means your life won't ever be the same again, and that's not a bad thing! - as well as to your relationship. Just prepare yourself for the fact it won't always be sunshine and rainbows!

Recovery is hard

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You have carried a human being for nine months, and then endured the strenuous job of birthing said baby. Whether you birth naturally or via C-section, your body will be exhausted, both mentally and physically. The best thing you can do is be kind to yourself, go slow and listen to your body. It needs time to heal!

Your hormones will be through the roof

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Hormones...wow! If you were lucky enough to avoid 'crazy pregnancy hormones' then I salute you! Either way, you'll experience a rush of emotions postpartum that may come as a surprise to even the best of us. That first drive home and moment you arrive at the house with an additional member really is an emotional one!

Don't see anyone until YOU'RE ready

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You do not need to have grandparents, aunts, uncles and Helen from next door waiting for you when you arrive home. Nor do you need to see them at any point if you're not up to it. There's always so much pressure to 'show baby off' when in fact, it can be very overwhelming. You also don't have to let anyone hold your baby if you don't want to; saying I'd rather you didn't is more than okay!

Muslins are your new best friends

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When you're reading the 'what to buy' guide and it says muslins a dozen times, believe it - you can never have too many. They will become your best friend, mopping every spillage, providing warmth and comfort - such a versatile piece of fabric! Honestly, go and buy multiple packs right now!

You don't need buy everything straight away

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So, buying muslins is essential but that does not mean that by the time baby has arrived, you have stressed yourself beyond measure just to get the nursery up and running. You do not need to go out and buy every item on every 'what to buy for baby' list as you'll soon find that you don't even use half the stuff and it's more annoying it being sat there unused.

Newborns cry A LOT

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Yes, it's an obvious one. Newborn babies really do cry a lot. Some parents are lucky enough to birth a 'non-cryer', or so they say, but let me tell you, every baby will cry at some point. Sometimes for a few minutes until their need is met, other times for hours on end with no solution.

Newborns feed A LOT

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Oh they do. And it's totally normal. A newborn baby may feed for five minutes or for forty-five minutes within the hour and that's natural - no baby is the same and neither is their feeding schedule. It can be sore (if breastfeeding); it can be tiring; it can make you feel touched out; but it can be magical and a beautiful moment to create that special bond.

Coconut oil and cabbage leaves will save you!

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One thing to note is that your n*pples are about to go through a tough old time. Breastfeeding can be uncomfortable to start as you and baby settle in and one thing suggested to help is the Lanolin creams. However putting creams on them can cause allergies and therefore coconut oil will be your hero. If not, whack some cold cabbage leaves on them and relax - it really does work!

Actually sleep when they sleep

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One bit of advice EVERYONE will give you is to 'sleep when baby sleeps'. As unrealistic as this may seem (no one is going to sleep at the drivers wheel whilst baby is asleep, or sleep instead of cooking dinner etc) but there is some truth to it in that when baby goes to bed, even if that 6/7pm, try get to bed too. Especially if you know your little one doesn't like sleep much

Do it your way!

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Doing parenting your way can feel freeing, especially if you have a lot of people around you trying to tell you how to do it - that means, let baby lead the way. Apps can be useful to help you remember feeds and nappy changes etc but try not to rely on them and rather trust your parenting gut!

Everyone has an opinion

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We've all been there when parents or friends, who mean well, try to give us life advice. The same happens, if not more, when you have a baby. All of a sudden, everyone feels they have a right to their opinion on how t raise YOUR child (even strangers!) so rather just politely decline their suggestions and do things how you want to.

Don't wrap them in cotton wool

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Having a child can feel like a daunting experience and if it's your first, you'll want to do all you can to protect them when they are here. But, it's okay for babies to fall over, have bumps and bruises as they are learning to move and navigate their new life. Be there to guide them but try not to be a 'helicopter parent' and let them have space to grow.

Don't obsess about sleep

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The topic of sleep will be one that will dominate your life once your little bundle of joy is here. How many naps should they be having? How long for? But obsessing about sleep will cause nothing but stress to you and those around you. There's honestly very little you can do to impact sleep and its best to just accept that it's non-existent for the first year and beyond for some.

Everything is a phase

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This really is true. In the moment, when baby is screaming and you can make it stop, it will feel unworkably hard, like you cannot continue. You might even find yourself thinking 'Why have we done this?', but that's normal and it will get better. Every scream, tantrum, food throwing episode is a phase and it will pass.

Mum guilt is real

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Feeling mum guilt, or dad guilt, is simply a sign that you are a great parent and you care deeply for your child. It's when you feel torn between doing something for yourself (you are a human with needs too you know) and caring for your child, leaving you feeling guilty if you choose to put yourself first for once. Acknowledge it but still do some things for you, it's scary but it's okay!

Postnatal depression can affect both of you

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Postnatal depression is really common among new parents and can actually affect both moms and dads. Hormones are flowing post-birth but if you find yourself crying for long periods of time or for many weeks or months after, it may be time to seek additional support. Just keep an eye on both of you as often dads are forgotten about.

Feed, Coffee, Cake...

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Most situations in the early months (and actually forever with a child) can be solved with feeding baby (milk or snacks) and feeding mom (coffee and cake). It can be common to overthink situations and find yourself throwing everything and the kitchen sink at it to try and calm both you and baby down, instead pause and feed both of you - guaranteed you haven't eaten properly all day!

Get out and about early on

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Coffee (or your choice of hot drink) and cake will become your lifesaver now that you're a parent. It will be where you can go with other new parents or simply by yourself with baby to get out. It's great if you can start going out whilst baby is still in the early months as, believe it or not, it's actually significantly easier than when they can start to move around. Make the most of it while you can!

It's not a competition

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From early on, you'll meet many parents who constantly brag about what their child can do. Whilst this is exciting and interesting to hear, it can feel overwhelming and a little like a competition to see whose child can succeed before the other. Instead see every child as unique and celebrate each milestone reached when your child reaches them - they are their own human remember!

Put them first

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It can be hard to sit down, relax and just enjoy being a parent with your little baby, but that is exactly what you should be doing. Those first few months should be just you and your baby. Ignore the piles of washing, list of things to do and let go of your career (for now). Everything will fall back into place in a few months but for now enjoy it!

Accept help

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Accepting help as a new parent can be one of the hardest things to do. You're feeling protective; you're feeling vulnerable. You're tired and most certainly overwhelmed but you will feel much better when you have an extra pair of hands to help you. Even if you aren't ready for them to hold baby, just making you a cup of tea will feel magical.

Dads are capable

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There is an assumption that because moms give birth to babies that they are the best parent to care for them and whilst this is true to some extent, Dad's are just as capable if given the chance. Most dads will simply need some guidance and it doesn't always come natural to them but don't work yourself into the ground moms, share the load!

We're all winging it - and that's okay!

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There is no manual for how to be an awesome parent. There are a million books out there but they won't necessarily help as every child is different. It's okay to admit that no parent truly knows what they are doing and that is okay - as long as you're doing your best and your child is happy, healthy and safe, you're nailing it!

The TV is not your enemy

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We've all been there before where we have said 'my child will never watch TV' and then we find ourselves calling upon the wonderful Ms Rachel or other TV personal to help entertain our children. TV in moderation is perfectly fine and for some families, a game changer.

A sign for the door!

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There is nothing worse than the doorbell ringing when you have just settled your baby and then they wake. This can be soul destroying if it's been a battle to get them to sleep or you yourself are exhausted. A simple sign on the door can be the best thing you'll buy this year!

Overthinking is normal

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When you're a new mom your brain changes along with everything else. All of a sudden you're thinking about a million and one different things, from nappy changes, feeding times, doctor appointments, how to keep your baby alive etc the list goes on, to household chores plus your own personal things you have to remember. No wonder you are overthinking - it's very normal!

Snot suckers and plug-ins are essentials!

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When the weather changes and winter arrives, snot suckers and vapour plug ins will be your essentials. Sleep is a tricky thing to master before they are bunged up with cold and flu-like symptoms and you'll want all the help you can get to get through this sickness phase.

You can't spoil a baby

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You cannot spoil a baby, no matter what anyone says. It's impossible to love them too much, hold them too much or 'make a rod for your own back'. Remember they have been all snuggled up inside you for 9 months so being away from you will feel scary for a little while after they are born. Let them sleep on you; let them have all the cuddles; let them feel loved.

It's hard but the best thing you'll do!

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Be under no illusion that becoming a parent for the first time will be the hardest thing you'll do in your lifetime. That said, it will also undoubtedly be the best thing you will ever do in your lifetime. It will be challenging, yet rewarding so try to focus on the good moments. As long as your baby is fed, warm and safe, you're doing a great job!