Right now I'm reading 'Like a Queen' by Constance Hall; self-confessed foul-mouthed-bogan/hippy-Queen, and Mother of 4. She aptly prioritises things for us new Mums:
“As a new Mum you’re responsible for the health of your Baby and your own mental health – everything else can wait”.
Hear, hear Constance! In my experience, I was so focused on the birthing process that I hadn’t yet had a chance to really think about what happens after that. With a likely damage to your under carriage (or the upside down smiley face scar from a C-section) and limited sleep, I know it’s incredibly difficult to think long term. I simply struggled to put one foot in front of the other to get through each day in those first few weeks.
If you’ve emerged from the fog and now have time to read this, then think of these tips as ways to make your life easier. They are little things that you can try, that will set you up with good habits for the long term, that will ultimately save you time and reduce your stress. Constance literally swears by them!
- Dark = Sleep
New babies don’t differentiate between night and day, they need to taught. Help them learn by using black-out curtains or a dark breathable cover over their pram. People I know have placed foil over the windows of their bedroom to shut out the light. When they wake overnight, do not take them out of their darkened room (unless of course the situation is dire). You’ll find the lack of distraction in the darkened room is your best chance of re-settling them. Constance is very big on this!
- Transfer them whilst sleeping
You would have heard loads of stories of people unable to move their bubs for fear of waking them (think everyone in their cars in their driveways). This wasn’t the case for my bubs because my sister had drilled it into me: get babies used to being moved whilst asleep! Transfer them whilst sleeping from the car, pram or carrier to their bed so that they get used to the movement and can re-settle. To be really fair though, some bubs are light sleepers (mine are not) so genetics can have a large say in how successful you can be in this area.
- Keep the bottle up
Even breastfed babies need a bottle from time to time. If you need to go out for any reason and your bub is being minded, you need to feel comfortable they can feed in your absence. Both times I didn’t keep up the bottle and my children refused to take it when I needed them to. The walls closed in on me and my breasts and I were bound to them until we were established on solids. A bottle 2-3 feeds per week should keep them used to it, and facilitate your liberation when you need it.
- Using a dummy
This is another can of worms and you’ll find huge debate on either side of the camp – both for and against. You’re the parent, it’s your call – end of story. My instinct is that some babies are predisposed to it. It’s easier to wean off a dummy, than to remove their thumb if that is how they have learnt to settle, right? There is an old wives' tale along the lines that removing the dummy at 8 months is a relatively painless process. My sister-in-law has successfully helped her new born settle by using a child safe dummy chain attached to the sleeping bag (my son screams out when his is lost in bed - not a great routine to get into). If you do use a dummy, check out our all natural dummy spritz which can really save your bacon whilst you’re out.
- Sleep whilst out
Constance Hall and I totally agree on this one; getting out of the house is a huge mental health savior, and fresh air cures almost all woes . Getting bubby used to sleeping in transit will help facilitate this for you. My dear friend Mandi swears by walking the pram on cobblestones in order to jiggle a bub to sleep. I’ve been amazed at how many of our friends have taken turns in doing laps in order to get my babies off to sleep whilst we’ve been out. Bubs who can be coaxed into sleeping whilst out, will mean your freedom in the longer term.
"You are succeeding. Every single day that you get through, you are succeeding, with no sleep, loud screams, marital breakdowns, no post baby weight loss, you are succeeding.
You are such a royal success story, what you are doing is phenomenal and overwhelmingly hard.
Don't ever forget that Queenie. 👑
If you want more sage advice, and to feel a bit normal about your own world, check-out @mrsconstancehall - I wish I had come across her earlier!
Hope this helps