“It would be easy, they said.”
“What is there to it? Just feed them and let them sleep.”
“I can’t wait to dress it up in cute little outfits and take Anne Geddes inspired photos ALL day long!”
“They are so cute you just want to cuddle all day.”
“I am never going to wish the time with my newborn away!”
I don’t know about you, but I definitely had a turn to say all of the above! I was that girl who was born to have babies, who had wanted nothing more and literally couldn’t wait. My nine months of pregnancy floated blissfully by as I imagined all the fun I was going to have with my precious baby and then she arrived…
The brick wall I crashed into was so wide and high it seemed truly insurmountable. I was shocked to my core when I took this darling little girl home and she didn’t do anything she was supposed to do.
I tried to feed her and when she wouldn’t latch, my husband had to stand over my exposed breast and spray gripe water from a syringe onto my very swollen and cracked nipple for her to feign interest and attempt a feed.
I would eventually complete the feed and I’d wind her and put her into her cot and she WOULDN’T sleep. She stared around for a bit before breaking into a ferocious roar, which made my already frazzled nerves want to leave my body entirely. What now?
I’d then attempt to feed again or shove the latest silicone orthodontic-friendly pacifier into her mouth (with the syringe of gripe water) and when she was calm, I’d put her down again only for her to have the equivalent of an atomic explosion from her rear end. I’d be left with the biggest decision of my life thus far: do I change her and risk waking her fully or do I pretend I never heard that and just leave it?
Then she would sleep for an entire day and decide to be awake for the entire night. It was on one such night as I lay curled on her floor mat watching my exhausted husband attempt sleep on a winged back chair that I thought to myself “how did this happen and how the hell am I going to sort this out?” This little lightweight literally had us in a position of powerlessness, and we could not go on like this.
I did find a way and it worked so well, I even decided to do this newborn thing twice more. So, here is my list of things to do to not only survive them but to love and cherish the time you have with them.
Hands down, this is your most important activity when you have a newborn. We need to make these feeds into events – they need to be long enough to sustain them for around three hours, so take some time out to do this properly. Try arrange these feeds at certain times of the day and the easiest way to do this is to start at the same time every day and go from there.
I like to split the feed into two parts: the first course is in the lounge with Netflix, Facebook and a cup of tea. Feed for as long as possible; if they pull off the breast or stop drinking their bottle, give them a little break before trying again.
“A new baby means adjustments on all fronts.”
The second course takes place in the room. Close the curtains, change the nappy and swaddle, offer the second half of the feed and when they are truly finished all you need to do is pop them into their bed. I know it sounds like a mission but if you think about it, if you have four to five main events throughout the day and they sleep well in-between because they are satisfied, it really makes this the easier option.
Give yourself around an hour for the full event and when this is over, the feed is done and we move on until next time.
2. Understand a newborn’s needs
This is really important, especially to prevent severe outbursts which make a two-year-old tantrum seem like a waltz on a Wednesday!
- No baby likes to feel exposed, which is why I have yet to meet a newborn who relishes a bath. Swaddling is your friend (they pretend to hate it but trust me and persevere… it helps!).
- Awake times for your baby shouldn’t be more than 1½ hours.
- They can’t filter stimulus so remove them from noisy, bright and chaotic places, especially when it’s approaching sleep time.
- Always stay calm and confident when handling a baby. Fake it until you make it and don’t let them smell your fear or anxiety.
- Be patient. If you have put them down and they start crying, pick them up, calm them and try put them down again. Even if you do this 10 times, it will be easier than taking them out of the room and dealing with the results of overtiredness and overstimulation.
- Babies love to do this as it helps soothe them. So, if you have finished your feed and your baby is just not happy, use a pacifier to help them.
3. Mum and Dad
Take care of each other. Remember that change is not easy on anybody, so try and keep the communication open and be sympathetic and caring towards each other. A new baby means adjustments on all fronts. Mums, do your best to hand over some responsibility and don’t hover around when its Dad’s turn; rather take the gap and have a long bath.
If you are trying all of the above and you feel you are not winning, ask for help; never ever suffer in silence!
By Nicky Kyle