Disclaimer: This isn't a 'scientific' blog. I have just become a mum for the first time and wanted to share my list of things I didn't know (or didn't listen to when I was told!) but wish that I had! I certainly don't claim to be an authority on babies, this is my first and she is only 11 weeks old! That said, I feel as though I've learnt a lot of things the hard way and hope that the few points below may help make the transition to motherhood a little smoother for others.
In no particular order:
1. When your baby wakes in the night, feed her first, then once she stops suckling, change her nappy, then feed her again, before putting her back to bed. This will achieve 3 things, 1. She will be fed and changed, 2. It will avoid a screaming session at 2am, brought about by you changing her nappy before you feed her and 3. She may sleep for longer as she will have had 2 feeds, not just 1.
2. Don't bother timing your feeds, instead, pay attention to your baby. You need to learn your babies signals; believe it or not you don't immediately know what your baby wants! Those 'mothers instincts' take some time to develop, but the more attention you pay to your baby, the sooner this will happen!
3. Don't forget you need to rest after you've delivered your baby. Your body has been through a major stress and needs to repair itself; so help it! If you can't sleep during the day (which I couldn't), go to bed as soon as the sun goes down and don't get up in the morning until you feel ready. There is nothing more important than you looking after you and your baby. You need to be at your absolute best to cope with the curve balls that your baby will keep throwing at you!
4. If you sleep on your side, don't sleep in a bra. The bra will put pressure on your breast where you lie and can cause engorged breasts and blocked milk ducts. This will cause you incredible pain and if not quickly rectified (suggestions include: gentle massage, emptying of the breast, apply heat pre-feed and cool post-feed) can lead to an infection which will require antibiotics to treat. If your worried about milk leaking in your bed, sleep on a towel.
5. Don't expect your friends/family to know what you want them to do once you get home with your baby. If you want people to prepare meals for you, ask them, if you want someone to come and clean your bathrooms, ask them. People will be more than willing to help, but most aren't mind readers! And if you want them all to nick off for awhile and let you find your feet, then tell them that to!
6. Expect to achieve nothing (but tending to your babies every need) in the first month after you get home with your baby. That way, when you do manage to do something else, it'll feel really good, rather than being frustrated that you can't get anything else done. Be prepared that some days even a shower will be out of the question....
7. You will be overloaded with advice, suggestions and know how from other people (as above!!). Don't believe everything you read, trust your instincts, and do what is best for your baby.