Since becoming a mum, I’ve realised that I’ve started doing things I would have classed as “mumsy” before giving birth. These include licking my thumb to rub some random speck off Emmy’s face, catching spit up in my bare hands (and for someone that was terrified of this happening due to emetophobia, that’s a big step – luckily baby spit up is pretty much just that, half a mouthful of milk that has barely even got down their throat yet, so it doesn’t bother me too much!), and spouting phrases that I would have only associated with mums before. Some of these are wonderful pieces of advice I’ve been given; others are just funny. Let me know if any other mums out there have started saying these too!
“Sleep breeds sleep”
You’d think that you wouldn’t want your baby to sleep during the day time because they wouldn’t sleep at night, right? Wrong! It turns out that the all-important daytime naps are just that – very very important. A couple of midwives gave me the “sleep breeds sleep” advice and I also read it in Holly Willougby’s Truly Happy Baby book, but it wasn’t until I had an overtired baby that I realised it was so true. It also turns out that you can have a baby who’s both overtired and undertired at the same time, who’da thunk it?!
“If the baby won’t settle, go for a walk”
Okay, so this piece of advice has probably been the most useful and practical advice I’ve been given. When you’re at your wit’s end because the baby’s crying and you just can’t figure out why, you’ve tried all the obvious like feeding, nappy change, too warm, too cold etc. or they just simply won’t settle and is fussing, go for a walk. Seriously, get that baby into a pram, a carrier or a sling and just walk, literally anywhere. With Emmy, I’ve been walking around our market town which has a couple of parks as well as surrounding country lanes and fields. If she’s pretty calm, I’ll pop her in the pram; if she’s particularly cranky, she goes into a carrier as she likes being held against me. I’ve heard that this can even help with tummy ache from wind as it helps to shake it out a bit! I’ve been lucky that Emmy’s a summer baby meaning we’ve been able to get out more easily, but even popping her into the carrier and walking around the house or supermarket can work wonders!
Plus it’s not just good for baby, it’s good for you too! It’s a gentle form of exercise for those post-birth days when you want to get your fitness levels up again (I know I could barely walk around the supermarket by the end of pregnancy!), but it’s also good for your mental health. I’ve found that when we’re having one of “those days” where naps are ever elusive, Emmy gets bored of every toy I give her in 5 minutes and seems fed up of my face too, it can help me feel so much better to get out and get some fresh air.
“The days go slow but the years fly by”
So technically we haven’t had years yet (unless you count the time from when I found out I was pregnant – a year ago this week!), but like everyone says, I can’t believe how quickly it’s all going! I just imagined I would have a newborn forever, but we’re now rapidly approaching the 4 month mark and I can’t believe I have a baby who can hold her head up completely by herself, roll over (when she feels like doing so!), grabs and plays with toys by herself, and is well on her way to sitting up by herself. I mean look at her above reading a book in her high chair 😀 Where did my little newborn potato go?! When you’re in the middle of one of those tough days I mentioned earlier, the day can go on forever – especially when baby’s tired but won’t nap so gets cranky at everything you try. But that day does, of course, come to an end, and those days build up very very quickly. I’m just waiting to wake up tomorrow morning and discover she’s a teenager!
“Feeding a baby isn’t easy but it is rewarding”
I read it everywhere and had people tell me that feeding a baby is pretty hard work, but I didn’t really get it until I had one myself. I don’t know, I I had in my head that if breastfeeding didn’t work for us, it didn’t matter and I’d just move on calmly to other alternatives. That was until we struggled with breastfeeding and there was nothing calm about it! Emmy used to fight me to feed, and if she wasn’t fighting, we couldn’t wake her up to feed. After 3 weeks, it was much much easier, and nowadays I don’t think twice about feeding her – I can even do it in the dark! That doesn’t mean that those 3 weeks didn’t feel like forever and the end of the world while we were in them though – I thought my baby would starve (even though we were keeping her well fed with expressed milk in bottles!) and that we would never get this breastfeeding thing, plus the pressure put on by a midwife or two was pretty stressful.
Like I said, nowadays it’s very different – she latches on in seconds where before it could take half an hour to get her feeding – but we have another problem, she won’t take anything except breast! If someone could get this baby to take a bottle, I’d be forever grateful! The pressure is now quite different. Because Emmy is exclusively breastfed, everything is on me – I literally can’t get a break. Breastfed babies tend to eat more frequently than formula fed ones, and they also go to the breast for comfort, meaning that I need to be available pretty much…constantly. I live in fear of getting poorly in case it means that I can’t look after her. Apparently you can continue to breastfeed while poorly, but having had a minor cold that made it pretty hard work to look after her alone plus the fact that I can’t just drop her on a friend or relative for half a day while I rest is a different kind of pressure all of its own.
I can’t speak for those that formula feed, but I imagine feeding is just as difficult a topic for them – there’s a huge amount of stigma around not breastfeeding your baby. I’m totally of the opinion that if a baby’s getting fed, does it matter how? On top of that, you’re still going through the whole feeding every couple of hours thing, plus you’ve got different battles to fight with preparing bottles in the middle of the night and whatnot.
But at the end of all this, you get a healthy, growing, thriving baby all because of the hard work you put in. Seeing them growing physically and mentally is the most amazing thing – those milk drunk smiles make it all worth it!
“The smiles make it all worth it.”
The last sentence of the past point had to make a point of its own. Yes, the days are hard, and the nights often harder. But when you wake up and the first thing you see is a happy smiling face who’s been waiting for you to turn over and see them is the best thing in the entire world. This tiny person relies on you and loves you unconditionally for everything you do, and when their face lights up when they see you, it’s the best. And this girl is a smiler!
“Why are you wet? Why am I wet? Where is this coming from?!”
Also known as
“Everywhere you go, always take a muslin with you.”
And a quick bonus one, now that I have a teething baby I now totally understand why burp cloths are an absolute necessity. Baby saliva everywhere; baby spit up everywhere; even baby wee everywhere. I quite often realise nowadays I have a wet shoulder or sleeve or even knees (Emmy’s favourite way to do tummy time is on my knees…obviously). Emmy often has a wet sleeve cuff, a wet neckline or a wet bottom. So new mums to be, I beg of you, get plenty of muslins and take them everywhere you go. (Not really recommended for nappy incidents, but they can be handy at a push!)