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14th March 2022

Coping in the first week with a Newborn

Bridie Testimonials 'baby foot in mouth'

I’m always aware of how hard it can be as a new parent; I mean, I’ve been there myself! As a midwife, I’ve also visited many parents during that first week and understand what a huge change this is, so here’s some advice to help you through. Most importantly, the first week is always tough on all new parents, so always have that in the back of your mind, don’t beat yourself up if you’re finding things hard; they will improve with time.

Accept Help

It’s essential to try and accept help, particularly during the first few weeks after you deliver. For some new mothers, it can be tough to allow someone else to step up and care for your newborn, even your partner at times, but to cope with feeling sleep deprived enable others to step in even for short periods, taking baby for a short walk, holding the baby etc. At the same time, you can rest or be with the baby or try and nap in a different room. Your focus will be your newborn, so try to accept help in other areas like meal prep, putting a wash on doing a food shop etc. Discuss your expectations with your partner in advance on who will be helping, think carefully about who will offer you the best support and stagger the help rather than having it all at once.

Nest & Rest

In the first few days, focus on nesting with your baby, so don’t feel pressured to be up and about doing things. I advise women to prep a postnatal bag with all their essentials to hand, adding; a water bottle, snacks, nipple cream, breast pads, lip balm, headphones etc. Leave the running of the house and meal preparation to others who can help.

As a midwife visiting a new mum in the first week, we like to see you nesting with your baby. Remember to do lots of skin-to-skin to help with bonding and establishing breastfeeding. Although it’s not always easy with a newborn, try to rest when you can, this doesn’t mean always having full naps during the day, but just relaxing in bed or on the sofa can still be beneficial. Try having some extra pillows and a blanket on your couch so you can rest during the day when the baby sleeps. Finally, it isn’t beneficial for you and your partner to be staying awake together. Try to tag-team it! You will be surprised by how you can feel with just one hour’s sleep.

Cluster Feeding is Normal

Remember, cluster feeding is expected, along with the baby not wanting to be put down. Go with the initial feeding demands because it gets more manageable in the long run. Encourage baby to sleep in their Moses basket, crib, etc., as much as possible during the day to help you at night. Don’t allow yourself to get overly tired, and this can be dangerous if you’re holding a baby when very tired. Remember to ask for help and get somebody to take over when you need to sleep.

Keep Eating & Drinking Well

Eating and drinking frequently will aid your recovery and boost your energy; drink plenty of water and have healthy snacks available throughout the day to keep you going. Make sure you have snacks ready in advance and buy a variety of healthy snacks along with treats for yourself; you’ll burn 500 extra calories a day whilst breastfeeding. Allow others to prep your main meals and think ahead by batch cooking and booking an online food shop in advance. I also found eating earlier in the evening set me up for when the baby became fussier in the evening, and I could go straight to sleep once the baby settled.

Be Organised & Plan

Have a changing station upstairs and downstairs, making up that postnatal bag/box I mentioned above. Being prepared and organised prevents you from moving about too much and going and finding things keeping things as straightforward and stress-free as possible. Try to also prep for the night ahead, ensuring you have nappies, wipes, a spare set of baby clothes and a change for the baby’s bedding if there are any accidents! Remember to also pre-pack your changing bag before the baby arrives; you could end up needing to go out in this first week, so it’s essential to have it all ready for when you need to leave home.

Pace Yourself

Take it slow, being mindful of the recovery you’re going through. Don’t push your body too hard; start with short trips or short walks to get you out of the house. Listen to your body, and if you feel tired or in pain, you may be doing too much; I advise women to take regular rest days during the first few weeks postnatally and alternate an active day with a rest day in the first few weeks. Finally, don’t fill your diary with lots of appointments and visitors.

You’ll be Doing a Great Job

However tiring and overwhelming it may feel you’ll be doing a great job, remember to don’t compare yourself to others and think wisely about what advice you want to take. It also does get easier in time and what feels hard at first becomes second nature down the line!

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