Updated: Mar 11, 2020
Becoming a parent for the first, second or even 4th time is life-changing and although we cannot ever completely prepare for this beautifully chaotic ride ahead of us, there are lots of things that can be done in pregnancy to make the transition a little smoother.
We asked new parents what they did or wished they had done in pregnancy to prepare for the early days and weeks with a newborn, and here are their top tips…
💙Food prep: Batch-cook meals and snacks to put in the freezer and organise a big food shop delivery for that first week, with meals that are quick and easy to heat up or assemble, and plenty of nutritious snacks to keep you going (flapjacks, energy balls, fruit and nut bars, dried fruits etc). Think about having soft and easily digestible foods available in case you tear or have an episiotomy, to help with that first poo! 😂
💙 Work out a solid plan for visitors: Be clear about your needs and expectations in advance of the birth, and don’t be afraid to say no. ‘Come for an hour maximum, make your own cup of tea, bring food and hold the baby so I can have a nap’ was my true wish but I did not articulate this clearly enough! Factor in enough time to bond as a new family unit before visitors take over your home, and have some visitors booked in when your partner goes back to work (if s/he took leave). Some parents like to keep the first week for immediate family only.
💙 Think about how you want to tell people when your little one arrives.
💙 Have some time for you. Make a 'mummy box' to tuck into post birth with all your favourite treats (chocolate, wine, face masks, favourite concealer etc).
💙 Organise some help for housework - if you can afford it hire a cleaner and if not see if you can enlist the help of family and friends, to do it once a week for example in the early days.
💙 Stock up on a few essentials including comfy maternity cotton pants or Men’s undies, maternity pads, cold packs and perinatal spray (for engorged breast and swollen bits), Epsom salts to aid recovery and a good water bottle to keep hydrated whilst feeding. Don’t feel like you need to buy EVERYTHING for your baby in advance, you can also wait and see if you need or want it once your baby is here.
💙 If you have other children, get someone else to come and help look after them so you can focus on your recovery and bonding with your baby.
💙 If you plan to breastfeed, find out where you can get breastfeeding support should you need it (e.g. midwives, lactation consultant, breastfeeding clinics in the community etc.). Some hospitals have a breastfeeding preparation class for mums-to-be.
💙 Bank in the 💤. Sleep and rest as much as possible in preparation for the effort of labour.
💙Know that in those first few weeks (and in parenthood!) you do not have to do it all. Getting to know your new baby, taking care of yourself and recovering from your birth is more than enough to be getting on with. What better time is there to stay in your PJs for a week or two?
💙If you plan to breastfeed, know that it can be challenging and that is normal - it is a new skill that both you and your baby are learning to master which takes time. Your nipples and breasts will probably feel really uncomfortable to begin with and it may feel like you are feeding around the clock. But your boobs will recover and adjust, and if breastfeeding isn’t possible, it is by no means the only option. It doesn’t mean you won’t be able to bond with your baby, and is in no way a reflection of your abilities as a parent.
💙Try to be kind to yourself and adjust (read lower) your expectations. The early days are a rollercoaster of hormones, emotions and exhaustion. Accept all the emotions that might come up - they are all valid. This is a huge transition. You have birthed a tiny human which is nothing short of miraculous. There is a new person in the family to care for and to get to know and who is getting to know you. Giving birth is a life-changing event, and we absolutely cannot expect the same of ourselves as pre-baby.
💙Be prepared for the postpartum ‘baby blues’. Around the time your milk comes in on Day 3 or so, you might feel tearful, irritable, overwhelmed, anxious, sad, or all of the above and more. This is normal and caused by the rollercoaster of hormones. Know that you will be OK and it will most likely pass very soon. Line up some feel-good movies and treat for these few days. And if you are struggling, help is available - have a chat with your midwives and health visitor when they come round.
💙Have a think about how you will be supported postpartum. Be prepared to ask for help and accept offers of support.
What is your best practical tip for expectant parents? ❤️
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