We’ve all been inundated with countless platitudes surrounding the first few weeks with a newborn. And while they are true – the time does go by quickly, you should try to cherish every moment, you will experience a love you never thought possible and having a baby does change you – there’s more to the newborn stage than just these clichéd notions.
In between the blissful baby time, there are a few other elements along the way, ones that aren’t always discussed so freely.
So let’s delve between the picture perfect moments and uncover a few of the other important things you need to know about life with a newborn.
You will probably feel like you’re messing things up
If you think you’re doing everything wrong, odds are, you’re doing everything right. Newborns aren’t supposed to cater to a routine at this stage which is why the best thing you can do is let him guide you.
In time you will learn his cues and he will learn that there are set sleeping, playing and feeding times. But this often comes later.
Cluster feeding will be your new career
For the first week you can pretty much relinquish your title as a human and admit that you are officially a milk machine. In between feeding your infant and expressing the excess milk to relieve the pain, you don’t have time for much else.
It won’t last. Once your milk comes in and once you and bub get used to the whole supply and demand thing, the cluster feeds will decrease and the times between feeds will lengthen.
You will experience a new understanding of exhaustion
We’ve all pulled a few all-nighters in our younger party days, right? And we’ve all experienced the joy that is trying to function the next day on next to no sleep.
It’s even harder when this lack of sleep is continuous. Again, not all babies will put their parents through constant night waking. But newborns are not meant to sleep through the night. And when your newborn isn’t asleep, then neither are you.
Some nights, it might seem like you’ve just fallen asleep when you hear the faint cries beside you. Yes, it’s frustrating and beyond exhausting. But just remember, your little one isn’t trying to upset you. He simply needs you to comfort him, to soothe him, to give him food for his teeny tiny belly and to reassure him that, even if you are not holding him, you are still there.
You will also experience a whole range of other emotions
These emotions can be hard to control and to understand. One moment you’re in a happy bubble with your baby; the next you’re in a flurry of tears because someone knocked on the door and woke bub up.
The bottom line is this – being an emotional mess is normal. Resentment, sadness, loneliness, frustration, anger, guilt – this all comes with the postnatal territory. However, if these feelings are impacting your ability to see the positives and experience the joy that comes with being a new mum, then it could be a sign that postnatal depression has reared its ugly head, so make sure to tell someone.
You will be sprouting extra padding in more areas than one
If breastfeeding, breast pads will become part of your daily wardrobe. Without them, you can pretty much count yourself as the winner of any wet t-shirt contest in the area.
You can also expect to don heavy duty maternity pads for the first few days to a week. After that you will probably still need to wear a pad (for up to eight weeks) as your body recovers from birth.
No matter how expensive the cot, your newborn will prefer to sleep on you
Why do newborns want to always sleep on or near you? Because it’s familiar. The warmth of your skin, the comfort of your cuddle, the smell of your body, the beating of your heart – being in your arms is the closest thing to the womb that they can muster in this strange new outside world.
And, most importantly, your baby won’t get used to this new world right away
For nine months your newborn was free to eat, sleep and suck whenever he felt like it. Most babies aren’t going to be completely content with their new surroundings and their scheduled expectations right away.
This is why the first three months is often dubbed the fourth trimester. Although you aren’t pregnant anymore, your baby will expect similar requirements as he had in the womb. This is why many new mums opt to baby wear, to provide plenty of skin to skin contact with both parents and to rock their newborns to mimic the constant movement inside the womb.
It won’t last forever. The exhaustion will subside. The time between feeds will increase. And the constant need for your infant to be in your arms will fade. So, embrace the clichés, the challenges and the contentment that come with these first few weeks.
Make sure to read our post about baby essentials that you actually need.