Becoming a parent is an exciting change but it’s also extremely confusing.
You may have done the NCT course, read the baby books and been given lots of advice from your mum, but nothing can really prepare you for parenthood.
It’s a huge shake up of your life, and you may feel like your relationship with your baby mama has been turned on its head as you struggle to come to terms with your new roles.
Here are 13 things you need to know about the early months with a newborn baby:
1. Emotions will run high
Expect a lot of tears in the first couple of weeks over seemingly minor things. This is totally normal. The baby blues, as they are known, hit most new mums as she experiences a rush of hormones.
Try to be patient and understanding.
2. You are both tired
It’s easy to fall into a competition over who has lost the most sleep.
Try not to compare notes and engage in a tit for tat over how long you were awake the night before.
Dealing with a new baby is exhausting for both of you. The best way to help each other is to take it in turns to look after the baby during the day so that you can each catch a nap.
3. Breastfeeding is hard
It hurts, does not always come naturally and can be extremely frustrating.
Breastfeeding is not easy. The first six to eight weeks are the absolute toughest. She may experience nipple pain, cramps, plugged milk ducts and worry that the baby is not feeding enough.
If she wants to breastfeed, be supportive and ask how you can help. You can’t feed the baby, unless she expresses some milk or supplements with a bit of formula, but you can fetch drinks and find a decent series to binge watch together on TV.
4. There are lots of things you can do to help
It’s understandable that you might feel a bit like a third wheel at times. Your partner is recovering from birth and spending most of her time caring for the baby, and you’re probably wondering what on earth your role in all of this is supposed to be.
Stepping up to do extra household chores, cooking and grocery shopping can make all of the difference. Offer lots of extra drinks and snacks too, as new mums tend to forget to drink enough fluids!
5. Find your own ways to bond
It might not be as frequently as you would like right now, because your baby is rather attached to their mum, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find your own ways to bond.
It might be cuddles, long walks to give mum a rest or nappy changes. Whatever you choose to do, find some way of spending quality one-on-one time with your little one.
6. The visitors are your responsibility
An overwhelmed mum may find it hard to manage the visitors. A lot of people will be dropped by after the birth, and it’s your job to politely but firmly make sure there aren’t too many coming over all in one day and that they don’t stay too long.
7. There are no right answers
There are lots of different ways of doing things. From sleep training to nappies to baby wearing. Everyone chooses a slightly different way but that doesn’t mean there is a right answer.
Mums and dads want what’s best for their baby. As long as you’re feeding them and loving them, you really can’t go wrong.
8. Life will change dramatically
Being spontaneous becomes impossible, your house is now a tip and nights out are a thing of the past.
It’s OK to miss your old life and wish for the days when you could sleep in until 10am.
9. Never stand in front of a bare bum
A practical tip for you now!
When changing a nappy, never leave the bum uncovered. Always have a fresh nappy ready to cover the butt.
I say this because our newborn daughter managed to fire poo at her dad, the floor, walls, door and out into the next room when he was changing her nappy. Don’t make our mistake!
10. Sometimes you have to suck it up
That doesn’t mean you need to be a doormat, but your body didn’t just get turned inside out and upside down.
Pushing your baby out of her body means your significant other has special privileges right now. So when you think she’s being a bit moody, try to make allowances because of what she’s dealing with right now.
11. She will come back
The early weeks with a baby are a steep learning curve. It’s a lovely time, but it’s also stressful and piles the pressure on both of you. As a result you will probably feel like your relationship takes a back seat. You may also feel like your other half is more stressed or just a bit different to before you had kids. Both of you need time to get used to your new roles.
It might take a year, or two, or even more, but eventually something will click and your relationship will blossom again.