I wrote a little piece a couple of weeks back for The Hypnobirthing Midwife, talking about what I had learnt from becoming a mum back in 2013 and how things were different this time round. My expectations and feeling comfortable setting boundaries.
It got me thinking about all the experiences around having a newborn, not just those first few days, but really the first few months. The fourth trimester. I was speaking with the hubby yesterday about how it feels for me, how vulnerable it makes me feel. I’m a heady mess of oxytocin, sleep deprivation & vulnerability who is now wearing her heart in a baby-sling instead of tucked up tight inside of her body! Don’t get me wrong I am SO HAPPY not to be pregnant anymore (angriest pregnant lady around. I’ve been nicknamed Pregzilla 🐲) But baby being earth-side brings out a fierce protectiveness in me. I remember having this with my first born too. Until he could walk & communicate his feelings I felt like I was his guardian. I protected him & put boundaries in place when he wasn’t able to. Not so much now, he’s definitely inherited my loud mouth and doesn’t hesitate when speaking his mind, but thank goodness as I now have another little bear to protect who hasn’t found his voice yet.
I realise that everyone’s experience of becoming a parent is different. Some families open the doors to celebrate, some are so happy & proud to share their baby, and some aren’t (me 😂) so here’s a few things that I have hugely appreciated from loved ones in these past 10 weeks or so and will continue to cherish until I don’t feel quite so raw…
💫 Wait to be offered a visit. Respect that whilst there’s a new baby in town, there’s also a new mum and she might not want visitors for days, weeks or longer. Don’t be offended, it likely isn’t anything personal.
💫 Don’t stay too long 😂 I know this sounds mean & abrupt, but seriously unless mum has asked you to come round to support her, a couple of hours is PLENTY. Us new mums are tired AF, and whilst it’s wonderful to speak to an actual adult human, after about 60 mins it starts to become hard work. Sorry! So don’t be offended if we start to glaze over, yawn or drool a little.
💫 When you visit - do stuff, or at least offer to. I think it’s a tall order to expect guests to bring food or anything, but what I have appreciated hugely is friends & family offering to make me a cup of tea, some toast (or prosecco 🍾). Or I’ve taken them up on the offer but actually asked them to hold baby so I can get myself something, which brings me on to…
💫 I know it’s crazy exciting, ovary thumping, heart exploding when you visit a new baby, and our instinct is to reach out and touch them, but before you do, two things… 1) Wait to be offered a hold. Remember for some mums it’s like their heart is now outside, the last thing you want is for it to be squeezed. 2) When you’ve been offered the baby or even if you haven’t but want to touch fingers and other tiny things, go wash your hands! Newborns have a very weak immune system so it’s important to keep germs away for a while, and nothing says awks as much as “ermm yeah can you go wash your hands before you touch my perfect tiny human?”
💫 Don’t wear perfume. Babies smell amazing, but they don’t after a cuddle with someone wearing perfume. As my sister-in-law once said, “No one wants their child returned smelling of Davidoff Cool Waters.”
💫If you are sick, have been recently sick or have kids who are / have been sick. Stay away. As I said before, germs 😷and the common cold stays contagious for up to 10 days after your last snivel.
💫Don’t just talk about baby unless she’s leading the conversation that way. Check in, make sure all’s well but seriously - I crave the outside world to take my mind off sleep, nappies & nipples.
I think that’s it for me, but I’d love to hear if you’ve any big do’s or don’ts? We are all different and can have vastly different needs. Whatever yours are don’t be afraid to voice them. It’s important to find where you feel comfortable with this new mum thing.