Saturday, 25 January 2014

What I wish I'd known in those early days...

1. Skin to skin matters. Babies benefit from being kept close. Like most new mums, Little b and I did a fair bit of skin to skin after birth and during the first few months. But knowing what I do now about the benefits of keeping a baby close- discussed at length in my babywearing blog (coming soon) - I wish I'd held and cuddled her even more. BUT, and here's why I didn't, when little b was first born I was pretty terrified when handling her as I was so scared I might break her! So that first night in hospital she slept mainly in a crib (beside me). Now I wish more of it had been in my arms. Those early months I was a bit wary to wear her, scared I might bump her, overheat her etc. This brings me to my next two points...
2. Babies are tougher then you think! Yes you need to protect their necks but you're not going to break them. Honestly! The first projectile vomit will terrify you but by the tenth you will barely blink and probably won't even bother to change your sick splattered jeans ;) Likewise the first head bump will have you dialling 111, but by the time they're crawling they're doing it up to 10 times a day and you'll barely blink.

3. Babywearing is wonderful! So good for your baby and so beneficial for their physical and psychological wellbeing. As well as yours! As I said, I was scared to at first, I now wear little b constantly. A good wrap or sling allows you to wear your newborn close whilst they get on with the very important and all consuming business of sleeping and allows you the freedom to use your hands, do jobs, Facebook etc. Most importantly wearing a baby will soothe them, reduce wind and help them sleep making for a much happier baby and mummy! (See my post on why I babywear for more info.) If they are crying uncontrollably try stripping you and them off, then pop them in a wrap/sling against you and feel them calm almost instantly.

4. One word. Ocado. Life changing. If you've tried a supermarket shop with a newborn you'll understand.

5. What babies cries mean; check out Priscilla Dunlop on Oprah. You need to watch a few times and then listen to the variations for your baby BUT it's a life saver. Made all the difference. It does work, trust me. Most babies have one that is the biggest cry causer; for little B it's tiredness.

6. Most babies like random things that will stop them crying almost instantly.  For little b, bizarelly, it's Elton John and no I didn't listen to him while pregnant.  Who knows why?! but it works! Before I discovered the powers of Elton I also found running the shower soothed her, turning the hoover or using the hairdryer. Also a light up glow worm (remember them?!) or light up alarm clock were very successful in stopping crying bouts, as was singing Dolly Parton's 'Jolene' at the top of my lungs (my neighbours must love me!) Nights spent rocking whilst standing by the shower however were no longer necessary once I started wrapping; so you may hopefully never need these random noises/objects! If however you do try a glow worm; I haven't met a baby yet that hasn't stopped crying when looking at them.  Also recommended by friends: Ellie Golding, Bruno Mars, Iphone White Noise App and 'The Wheels on the Bus'.
7.Infacol apparently kills gut flora so only leads to more problems. Many parents also think it doesnt work. Leg cycling, babywearing or a warm bath can be more effective.

8. A baby with a trapped burp can't eat or sleep (the cry is "eh, eh, eh"). Put them in the sling, bounce (gently!) whilst patting their back. Job done :)

9. Breastfeeding can be tricky at first. BUT there are people to help out there, including but not limited to La leche league, NCT or your local hospital has midwives. Seek help early to fix things fast. Otherwise google breatfeeding counsellors/ lactation consultants; there are lots of wonderful ones about. See Kellymom for any Breastfeeding queries, her site is fantastic. Inbox me if you would like details of a fabulous lady in the Queen's Park area.

Breastfeeding should not hurt, if it does seek help, you may need to fine tune your latch (again Kellymom explains how) or there may be an issue with tongue tie. Both can be fixed and more easily fixable earlier on.

10. Feed in more than one position, that way if buba (like little B) goes off one you have others that work to fall back on. The laid back or biological nurturing position is great.
Side lying is your best friend at night. Google positing so you avoid accidental rolling for your own peace of mind; basically lie in the recovery position.

11. You need to eat and drink to make milk. Your body needs lots if extra calories at first, so go ahead have that biscuit! Eat a variety of foods for good nutrition and to help little acquire a broad palate later. Foods good for milk are: oats, salmon, bananas, rice and foods with iron. I will blog about low milk days soon, until then see Kellymom.

12. Nearly all babies lose weight in the first few days, it's normal. They should hopefully reach their birth weight again within 10-14 days. 

13.Fresh air is magical! Nothing calms an unsettled baby like a good old dose of fresh air and is a sure fire way to send a baby off to sleep. Many a night little b would be crying, I would step out of the back door: instant silence. Wonderful! Again once I started wrapping I barely needed to do this.

14. Bed sharing is great, comforting and helps promote a good night sleep for all (I will write more on this later). But if you are nervous buy a sleepyhead 'deluxe bed guard' (John Lewis stocks them) for worry free co-sleeping from day one, it's basically a little dingy like bed that sits between your pillows. Little can sleep next to you both, you can reach in easily to feed and you get all the benefits of bedsharing but none of the worries. It also doubles up as a travel cot. If however you are happy to go straight into bed sharing go for it! But make sure you have a google for safety guidelines to make your night times as safe as possible for all. 

15. Baths help a baby sleep, reduce wind and when done together promote breastfeeding and bonding. Although little ones do tend to wee and poo in the very early days! Little b now loves her bath, she knows as soon as our clothes go off (we bathe together) that it's bath time and starts squealing, giggling and trying to throw herself into the bath :) Bathing together also saves your back and is a great way for mama to have a sneaky soak in the tub too!

16. A nighttime routine is your best friend, have 3 or 4 stages to help baba know it's bed time and wind them down gently- you may want to build these up depending on just how new your baba is. Baby massage is great for winding a tired baby down, reducing wind and helping promote a good night's sleep.

17. Sensitive/perfume free wipes work just as well as cotton wool and water. They are less messy, more portable and are less likely to give baby a nappy rash. They are also so much easier considering how often newborns need their nappies changing. Which brings me to 18.

18. You need LOTS AND LOTS of nappies! I'm talking hundreds here. You will go through masses in the first few weeks, let alone months. Newborns tend to poo whenever they eat (so change after feeding not before!) But if you have Ocado you can at least get a next day delivery in :) We like pampers dry the best, they do seem to be the most absorbent.

19. You have to do what works for you. So many people will tell you what to do or what not to do but at the end of the day it's your baby, you know them and you have to do what works for your little family unit (not your parents, his parents or your mates). A note on this; joint parenting decisions are best made when you're not too knackered (if possible!) and best avoided when buba is screaming unless you fancy a row that is! Which leads me to my final point...

20. It does get easier! Until then Mama and Papa be kind to each other, it's hard, confusing, new and wonderful and you're both learning to parent together so cut each other some slack. Neither of you means to be grumpy or unkind, you're tired and possibly overwhelmed. Try and treasure it as it goes so fast and know that it gets easier and easier and they cry less and less as they get bigger too! ;) Happy parenting all! 

Mama Amore xxx

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