What to do now baby is here
Now your new arrival is here, like many of us, you’re probably asking yourself: now what? It’s a fair question, and one many parents ask themselves. So, we thought we’d try tackle it for you here.
Jump ahead to a relevant section:
- Looking after yourself
- Looking after baby
- Getting back to normal
Looking after yourself | Wellbeing after giving birth
While looking after baby feels like the top priority, it’s worth taking a moment to think about yourself. The more you look after yourself, the more able you’ll be to look after your little one. Here are some top tips.
Rest as much as you can.
It’s a standard phrase you’ll hear from most people, especially those parents with dark rings under their eyes, but it’s true. It’s important to rest as much as possible. Parenting is a lot of fun, but no one is going to tell you it’s full of sleep. You need to catch up whenever the chance allows.
Unfortunately, baby is not the best at judging when you need your shut-eye, so try working around their routine. Find moments to nap when they nap, or rest when you finally have a visitor-free hour. Yes, you might feel like you’re neglecting other things – housework, group chats, box sets – but even a little downtime will give you some energy to take on a sleepless night.
It’s been a hectic 9 months, and an even busier few days since baby arrived. The least you can do is treat yourself. Don’t be scared to indulge yourself a little – it might be as simple as a manicure treatment, a walk in the park, a night out with friends or – let’s face it - an early night. Whatever you need to do to give yourself some time off and enjoy a little you time, do it. You’ve earned it.
Share the responsibility.
If you have a partner, then it’s important to share the duties as much as possible. If you’re breastfeeding, then obviously that dictates who’s in charge, but otherwise try to work out a system whereby your partner can support you in other ways. Cleaning the house, meal-prepping, organising the parade of friends and family desperate to see you and your little one – anything that can help you to shed some of that responsibility, will give you a little more room to breathe. If you don’t have a partner, the next tip is even more important…
Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Again, another obvious one, but it’s true. As you’re inundated with people eager to see you and baby, you’ll also be awash with offers of babysitting and other helpful things. Don’t just take it as kind words, take people up on it. If sleep is becoming a big issue, find sometime between feeds where friends or family can sit with bubba while you take a nap, or have a bath. Maybe you just need some company on those days when people are at work and you’re stuck in with the little one. Someone to talk to between daytime telly and feeds can make all the difference.
If you’re feeling down, don’t bottle it up.
During pregnancy and beyond, you’re full of very contradictory and overwhelming emotions. So, it’s only to be expected that you might find it all a little much. Talk to someone about it. Discuss how you’re feeling with your partner, and if they can’t understand then speak to friends, your own mother or reach out to support groups.
Everyone’s experience of parenting is unique to them, but that’s not to say that others haven’t felt like you’re feeling now. Sharing your own experience is a good way to realise you’re not on your own. If the feelings are becoming too much, then make sure to speak to your midwife, health visitor or GP. Postnatal depression is common and there’s no shame in seeking help. NHS Inform have great resources for a range of mental health topics.
Don’t compare yourself to others.
This one is much easier said than done. By the very nature of being around other new parents at baby groups, you’re bound to be looking at how they do things and comparing that to what you’re doing with your child. It’s only natural. But remember, it’s not important that you do things the ‘right’ way, instead you need to do it ‘your’ way.
We all have our own coping mechanisms and it’s the same in parenting. You’ll find your way eventually, but don’t second guess yourself or let guilt get the better of you. And if you’re enjoying it – brilliant! Don’t worry that you should be finding it harder or more stressful. As we’ve said, everyone is different, so there’s no point comparing.
Looking after baby | Figuring it all out.
While focusing on yourself is important, we know that when baby enters your world they become a main priority. But as with pregnancy and everything that’s to follow, it’s just a case of taking your time and finding your own way.
Every parent will tell you routines are key, but most of them will also provide plenty of examples of times they’ve failed to make them work with their little one. It’s just a fact of life – sometimes you strike it lucky, and baby falls into a natural sleeping routine, sometimes it takes hard work, tears and sleepless nights. And if you’ve got twins or triplets, everything is multiplied!
As you slowly start to find your way, figure out which routines are important for baby and which ones are important for you, and just try them. It will take time, you may need to revert to plan b, but don’t worry – it’s all part of the process.
Trial and error.
Following on from that, don’t forget that there’s no one-rule-fits-all with this parenting thing. What works for some parents and children, won’t necessarily work for you. But it’s crucial that you take it one step at a time, change course when you feel you need to, and don’t forget that there’s never just one solution. Just because you’ve managed to get a routine in place, doesn’t mean something won’t come along and disrupt it again. So just go with it, do what you can and adapt when you need to.
Making time for you and them.
In all the hullaballoo of new arrivals, you will have a house full of people and regular returning guests. It’s lovely that people are so invested and involved – but don’t forget to give yourself and your partner time alone with baby. Set boundaries for friends and family so they’re not coming round at all hours (unless they’re going to muck in with the dishwasher). If you have a day where you don’t feel like going out, don’t. Stay in, cuddle your little one and enjoy that time together.
Cutting yourselves some slack.
This has been at the centre of most of this advice, but it’s true: go easy on yourself. This is your first time. And if it isn’t, then there’s nothing to guarantee that things will go the same way they did with your first, second, third or fourth child. Take everything one day at a time and go easy on yourselves. You’re all figuring out this new world, so don’t be too tough on each other. You’ll get there.
While much of this might just seem like cliches, there’s a reason so much of this advice is common knowledge. Because it’s true – but also because it’s hard to stick to when you’re low on energy and adapting to a new situation.
The best thing we can suggest is taking time to pause and reflect on how far you’ve come. A few months ago, you were pregnant and pushchair shopping, and before that you’d never look twice at a dirty nappy. Now you’re here with your little one and they love you completely. It’s not always easy, but it’s not always as tough as we hear about. Everyone who’s ever had a child has figured out their way to do it, and you will too. We hope you and bubba have a great time getting to know each other!
And for everything else, we’re here too. If you’re upgrading your pushchair, adding flourishes to your nursery or still need to check off some of those essentials, we’re here with help, advice, and affordable baby products.