Having a baby is fun, beautiful and life-changing. But it’s also a huge upheaval.
Nothing can really prepare you, but it’s good to have an idea of what to expect. These are the 50 things that I wish I had known before having a baby.
Some are tips, some are bits of advice and some are practical ideas. All should help you in those early weeks after having a baby.
1. They are hungry all of the time
It’s not just a matter of feeding every two hours, sometimes they don’t stop feeding. Sometimes you can have had them on and off the breast or bottle for six hours. It’s normal.
2. Babies are unaware of the difference between day and night
They weren’t born with any awareness of night being for sleep. You have to teach them this and it does take time.
3. Putting them down drowsy but awake is easier said than done
Mine always cried when I put them down as newborns. If I held them until they nodded off, they always sprung awake if I put them down. It doesn’t last forever. But it’s annoying!
4. Routines are not always a magic answer
Routine was fine for my first but it didn’t happen on day one. It took about 12 weeks to get a semblance of control on when feeding times and nap times were. My second had no routine for months.
Even when your baby does into a routine, it doesn’t follow that they will sleep through.
5. Breastfeeding is hard
It hurts, the latch is tricky and you have no clue if they have had enough. Seek help, watch videos on YouTube and ask fellow mums for advice.
6. Mixing formula is a right faff
It sounds simple, but the formula needs to be made with boiled fresh water and the scoops have to be counted out. Then it has to be cooled. It’s not easy in the middle of the night.
7. That first night in hospital is scary
You’re left with a baby and despite all the reading you’ve done, you suddenly realise you have no clue what to do. Plus you’re feeling pretty rubbish from that labour you just went through.
8. You will have a mum tum
Although the baby is here, you still look five months pregnant. The bump will go down in time, that should be the least of your worries right now.
9. You will bleed for a few weeks
It’s surprising how long the bleeding goes on for. Buy loads of maternity pads and change them regularly.
10. Your boobs will hurt
When your milk comes in, which happens whether you’re feeding or not as it’s a hormonal thing, you leak and it hurts.
Cold cabbage leaves in the bra are meant to help. Otherwise feed as often as you can.
11. The baby blues are real
At some point you may find yourself sobbing over a nappy advert or crying because you used the last of the milk. This will pass.
12. Post-natal depression is hard to recognise
It can be difficult to see that you’re finding things hard to cope with because you’re depressed, not just because you’ve got a baby to look after and babies are hard work. If you’re feeling tired, emotional, prone to angry outbursts and like you’re doing a cr*p job all the time after a few months then you need to see someone. It’s common, GPS see it every week. Getting the courage to seek help is hard but it’s important to get yourself better sooner rather than later.
13. There’s no shame in asking for help
You don’t have to be a superhero. Get your mum over to do the washing, ask your hubby to do bedtime. If a friend offers to take the baby for a walk, let them. You’ll be a better mum for it.
14. You will row more with your partner
There will be clashes. Having a baby tests even the strongest of relationships. Try to listen to each other and if you’re both tired, take it in turns to get some rest.
15. Everyone will want to visit
There will be a queue of visitors stretched a mile long out of the door. Take it slowly, at a pace you feel comfortable with.
16. You need to be selfish
If you don’t feel up to something, don’t do it. You need to recover and bond with your baby. Make the right decisions about going out, having guests, doing day-to-day things that you feel you can cope with.
17. Give yourself time to recover physically and mentally
It’s a huge change in your life and your body has been through a lot. Give it time, things will start to feel normal again, albeit a new kind of normal.
18. Everyone is a baby expert
Even people with no kids will try to tell you what to do. Listen and nod politely. Take what you want from the advice, forget about the stuff that’s no good for you.
19. Be kind to your other half
It’s hard for dads too. They feel pretty useless having not carried the baby or pushed them out or breastfed them. Be clear when you need help and try to make 10 minutes for each other every day.
20. If you’re breastfeeding, your period stays away
You’ve had a nine-month break from Aunt Flo and now you’ve got more tampon-free days ahead as your cycle won’t come back until after you’ve stopped breastfeeding.
21. Sleep deprivation is hard
It is a total killer. Getting through the day is so tough. Rest when you can, get help when you can. We’ve all been there and survived it.
22. You need to take breaks
Even if all you do is walk down the road to the shops and get a coffee it can make a big difference to you psychologically to just walk away for five minutes. Obviously make sure you’ve got someone to watch the baby first!
23. Fresh air is good for you
Taking a breath of fresh air every day is the right call. Even if it’s only a five minute turn around the block, it can really clear the cobwebs.
24. Drink loads of water
Try to remember to have a glass on the go all the time. It’s easy to forget but it helps with recovery and is essential when breastfeeding to have a bit extra.
25. You need to keep taking vitamin tablets if you’re breastfeeding
Breastfeeding mums should take a vitamin D supplement every day.
26. A nursery thermometer is helpful
Knowing the temperature of the room will help when it comes to bedtime and choosing how many layers to put your baby in.
27. Sleeping bags are easier than blankets
Grobags are great because they come with a little thermometer and guide on what your baby should wear so they’re comfortable. However all the supermarkets do their own version and they’re just as cute but more affordable.
28. Don’t bother with a baby bath
I got one, used it with my first for about six weeks and then didn’t use it with my second at all. I have an Angelcare support seat, it’s one of my favourite baby products.
29. You need loads of muslins
They are essential baby gear. You will go through piles of them every day, so definitely ask for extra if people offer to get you a gift.
30. Keep baby warm with layers
Use soft cotton clothes and layer them up in the winter. It’s an easy way to keep your baby warm and the material is kind on their skin.
31. Jabs are hard to watch but they’re necessary
They will cry and it will always make you feel awful. It does need to be done though, so just grit your teeth and give them a big cuddle afterwards.
32. It’s ok to stay in your PJs all day
Some days you just don’t get round to getting dressed, whatever the reason. Don’t feel bad about it, just enjoy chilling out with your baby. You deserve it.
33. Mum friends are a lifeline
If you don’t already have fellow mummy friends in the area, do try to reach out by attending groups or connecting with friends of friends. It makes all the difference to have someone else to rant to.
34. There will be baby groups in your area – give them a chance
I’m not a huge fan of baby groups but I went to a lot with my first as it got me out of the house, gave my baby a change of scene and I did get to chat with other mums. There are so many different ones out there, do give it a try.
35. Housework can wait
Don’t worry about the vacuuming, and cleaning the bathrooms can wait another day or two. If you’ve got 30 minutes to relax while the baby naps, then take advantage of that.
36. Be wardrobe wise
Don’t buy clothes that stain easily, are hand wash only or need ironing. You need stuff that can be thrown in the washing machine and hung up to dry. That’s complicated enough!
37. You need to try and see the funny side
Sometimes everything that can go wrong, goes wrong all day. You put on a white top and it gets poo on it. You change your baby after she’s pooed through her clothes, she then vomits all over the new outfit. You need to keep your sense of humour. Laugh it off, shake it off, tomorrow is another day.
38. Sudocrem is awesome
It soothes red bums quickly and can also be used on your spots.
39. Meal planning and ready meals will save you
Yes you need to eat healthily. But you also don’t need to spend two hours slaving over a hot stove every night. Fill the freezer with batch cooking, plan for simple but hearty meals (chicken breasts and some veg, boring but easy).
40. Preparation for going out is key
Try to have a large changing bag ready with everything you need for a longer day out, such as a few outfit changes, nappies, wipes, bottle, rattle etc. Also have a smaller bag with just a spare change of clothes and nappy for when you’re nipping to the shops. The day you forget the small bag for a short trip is the day you will need it.
41. Your hair may start falling out
Mine came out in big clumps. It was scary but it does stop and you won’t go bald!
42. Your boobs will sag regardless of whether you’re breastfeeding
This is a hormone thing. Invest in some new bras to ease the pain.
43. Mum face
Melasma is common in pregnant women due to hormones. It causes brown marks on the forehead, nose and cheeks. It doesn’t look great. There’s bugger all you can do about it though, so invest in a decent concealer.
44. You don’t need a million baby skincare products
Unless your baby has eczema, there’s not a whole lot you need to do with your baby’s skin. You don’t need bubble bath in the early weeks and you don’t need a shelf full of creams and ointments.
When your baby is a few weeks old, just some bubble bath and a good moisturiser or baby oil for after is all you need.
45. Rolling over happens when you least expect it
I thought my baby was weeks away from rolling when she nearly dived off the edge of the changing mat. Never step away when they’re on there, they will surprise you!
46. Try to avoid putting a baby who has just fed in to their car seat
I’ve had a few projectile vomits in my time. It’s a right pain when you were just about to go out.
47. Blackout curtains are a good idea
This helps to teach your baby the difference between night and day. It can also make naps easier if the room is dark. Great Little Trading Company do some lovely blackout nursery curtains.
48. Try to remember to keep up with your baby book
If you don’t have a baby book, the red book you’re given after birth has a milestones section for recording when your baby has done certain things. Keep up with it, because you will forget when these milestones happened.
Bit by bit it does get easier and you will start to feel more human. You will also come to realise you actually know what you’re doing. The self-doubt does fade away.
50. You will love them like crazy
It’s incredible how much love you have for your babies. There’s nothing like it, but the trouble is it will make you want to go through it all over again with another child!