Having a newborn is a crazy time. Your life has just massively changed, your body (if you’re the woman) has just gone through hell, everyone wants to come and see you and cuddle the baby, and you’re trying to work out how to swaddle a tiny wriggling thing, and attempt to master breastfeeding.
Two of my best friends have just had their first baby (I’m so happy!) and it reminded me of when we had just had Ava, how we handled it all, and what I will try to do differently next time. So here are five little suggestions for if you are going to have a newborn soon, especially if it is your first time venturing in to parenthood.
Tell people when they can come round
People will ask you when they can come and see you, some will expect to be able to come whenever they want to, and some incredibly clueless and thoughtless people will not think it is a GIANT deal to just turn up unexpectedly!
Make sure you let people know when they can come round but don’t feel like you have to give them a specific time, you can always say something like “We’re going to be having people round in the next couple of weeks.” and then if you feel like seeing someone that day, then text and invite them. That way if you’ve had a particularly rough night then you don’t have to put on a happy face and let people into your home.
I know everyone wants to see your new cutie asap but those first few days are yours as a new family, and especially for new mums who might be struggling with breastfeeding or getting little sleep, you should be able to stay in your little bubble for as long as you like. Some people who haven’t been there might not understand it, but that’s their problem, not yours.
Obviously it’s a little bit different with very close family who are desperate to meet their new relative and see how you are (hopefully!!), but you still have every right to ask them to wait a couple of days if that’s what you want. There’s no rush.
This leads me on to….
Get them to make the tea
When people come to see you – get them to make their own bloody cups of tea! I know everyone wants to cuddle the gorgeous baby, but you shouldn’t have to wait on them despite the fact they are at your house. Everyone who came to our house (almost everyone – if you are reading this then I’m obviously not talking about you! ;) expected my husband to get them drinks while they snuggled our baby. He had just been through a lot too! He’d been awake for over 40 hours a day or so before too and then been looking after a newborn with me – he shouldn’t have had to get up and look after our guests.
Don’t feel guilty
I remember people coming to our house just as I had started to breastfeed, and I also knew that she would often be feeding for half an hour, sometimes an hour, and I would feel so guilty for stopping them seeing the baby and making them wait whilst I sat upstairs (or downstairs depending on who was there), GIVING MY BABY FOOD that she needed. I’m annoyed with myself about it now, but I think I usually felt like they probably wouldn’t be able to stay that long and I was taking away precious time from them seeing my new daughter. Which is ridiculous of course. If a baby needs food, it needs food. I’m very embarrassed to admit that I did stop my daughter from feeding for as long as she wanted a couple of times. She’d had plenty of milk, it wasn’t like I stopped her after just a few minutes and I would have carried on if she’d cried, but man I’m annoyed at myself (still) for doing that. I clearly worry about what people think too much.
Next time, people can come round but if it is time to breastfeed then that’s that and it will take as long as it takes.
Accept any help offered
If anyone offers to help you in any way; by bringing you a home-cooked meal round when they come to see you, or washing up for you – let them. You have a lot to deal with right now and you’re probably not getting loads of sleep. These people care about you and want to be there for you, so let them and try not to feel guilty about it. The odd person may have expected you to say no to the help but tough sh*t – you need the help.
Hold your baby
For the first couple of weeks after we had our daughter, evenings and weekends were mostly taken up by having visitors. Newborns sleep a lot, and so when my gorgeous little baby whom I had longed for, for years was awake, I actually wanted to sit and snuggle her and stare at her. But because we had people coming to see her who also wanted to squeeze her (not too) tightly I felt like I had to always pass her over to let them have their turn. Some of the time I should have just sat and cuddled her myself like I wanted to and tried not to feel guilty about that.
Also, I hope next time I’m better at taking my baby back from someone if I need to, and especially if they are upset. They are brand new to the world and if they are upset then they need their mummy (or daddy) to hold them close. Not someone who to them is a random stranger and is wearing a strong horrible perfume that is overwhelming them.
I probably sound a bit grumpy in this post – obviously it’s lovely having people to see your new little one and it’s great having friends and family that can’t wait to meet them – but I think it’s important to do it all on your terms. I obviously still remember how I felt the last time, and I’m determined that it won’t be like that if I am lucky enough to have another baby. You don’t get those precious first few days and weeks back, so do it your way.
I am not having a go at anyone who came to see our baby in those first few weeks. I love my family and friends so much and I’m very lucky to have them. I’m also not blaming them for all of these things – most of them were my fault and completely down to my new mum guilt. If I had explained any of it to them I am sure they would have understood, and would never have wanted to make me feel like that. It’s just the way it was. I just think if you can decide before you give birth that you are going to do things on your terms, then you can hopefully feel more relaxed about it all and feel less guilty.
Did you do it the way you wanted to when you had a newborn, or did you do what you thought you should to please others? Do you think I’m right or a selfish b*tch who should share my baby?!