Stuff That All Moms-To-Be Should Know

I don’t claim to be a mommy guru or baby whisperer, but just felt the need to share some of the things I’ve learned over the past 4 months of Baby Bird’s existence. If my insights ease the transition into motherhood for even one person I’ll be happy, because a lot of this is stuff I really wish I had known!

[Some of it could totally apply to dads too and life in general as well!]

1. Don’t Google shit! You will inevitably end up diagnosing baby (or yourself!) with some fatal disease, or you will come across a million forums all telling you to do the same thing differently. Save your sanity – you’ll need it for those late night feeds. If it’s a medical concern, see a doctor. If it’s something else, ask a trusted friend or family member. I’d say the same for books too – stick to one or two, you don’t need a million books on the same subject.

2. On friends and family members – everyone will want to give you their two cents worth and the majority of it is based on their own dated experience (seriously Mom, babies don’t sleep on their tummies anymore!) or stuff they know little about – smile and nod, pretend you are going to do what they say, and then just ignore them (unless of course you think their advice is actually legit!)

3. Don’t panic at the disco! Baby will pick up on it and it will make things worse. In the first few (very exhausting) days after Addi arrived, I used to get so stressed and frustrated when she cried – the more she wailed, the more upset I got. I think that us newbies are so desperate to stop baby crying instantly that we forget to keep calm and stay rational. As soon as I started approaching things differently, it got easier to soothe her and figure out what she wanted.

4. It’s okay if baby cries a little. I’m not saying that you need to leave the poor child screaming in it’s cot, but don’t forget that it’s their way of communicating their needs (and despite their cries all sounding the same in the beginning, you will soon be able to decipher them). A good example of this is when hubby and I would get up and feed Addi as soon as she stirred at night – anything to avoid the crying! We realised a few weeks down the line that sometimes she was just waking up and moving around because that’s what she does – she didn’t necessarily need/want to be fed – we started to leave her until she actually told us she wanted food and since then, she has been ‘sleeping through’. You also need to have a few minutes to yourself sometimes – if it means baby crying for a few seconds so that you can go to the loo or dress yourself in the morning – these things need to be done for your own mental stability!

5. ‘Sleeping through’ in inverted commas! When people say it, you assume (or at least I did!) that it means the start of continuous full nights of uninterrupted sleep and a nice sleep-in in the morning… The reality is that your sleep probably wont be that peaceful (you have no idea how noisy sleeping babies can be!), baby might ‘sleep through’ one night but not the next, and your day will probably now start at 3/4/5am (if you are lucky!) I guess you can’t complain though because after the first few weeks, anything longer than 3-4 hours in a row is basically ‘sleeping through’ (the technical definition is 5 hours of continuous sleep, no feeds) and absolute heaven to a new mom!

6. Breastfeeding. How can something supposedly so natural be so agonising, emotionally draining and difficult to figure out! My advice is not to give up too easily (like I did), to read up on it before baby arrives (like I should have) and to buy a good pump, regardless of how good at breastfeeding you think you’ll be (with my, er, ample advantage – I was convinced I’d be a champ!) Another tip: from the word go, express after every feed. It will be tiring and you’ll wonder how you can possibly manage it along with looking after a demanding newborn, but trust me, if you want to have a good milk supply this is the best way to achieve it. {EDIT SINCE POSTING – Michelle raised a valid point in her comment below, if you have a good milk supply from the beginning, excessive pumping may not be necessary}

7. Don’t beat yourself up! If you don’t want to breastfeed, fine. If breastfeeding didn’t work for you, fine. There is so much guilt associated with the choices we make. Happy mom = happy baby… I went through a few days of persistent crying (out of guilt) because I had “failed at breastfeeding”. In a nutshell (the story really is a bit more long winded than this), we had to give Addi formula in a bottle while we were still in hospital because she was dehydrated from antibiotics that were being administered intravenously. After she discovered how much easier it was to get her food a la bottle, breastfeeding was just too much hard work for the little diva, so after a few minutes on the boob she’d scream blue murder. She is still on breastmilk now though, I just express and give it to her in her bottle (my supply is good and I only pump two/three times a day now!) I’m called an ‘exclusive pumper’ – fancy, hey? As I mentioned above though, I wish I hadn’t given up so easily, however, I can honestly say that expressing is much more convenient for a control freak like me and I would definitely consider doing it this way again for baby number 2… (WHAT! you say – thinking about baby number 2 already!? Shhhhh… don’t tell hubby!)

8. You can never have enough muslins or bibs! Especially once they start spitting up and drooling (we do a load of ‘baby washing’ practically every day!) On that note, get used to smelling like baby puke. I’d also recommend wipes with the flip-and-clip lid as opposed to the peel-back sticker, so much easier to use with one hand while holding baby’s legs up with the other.

9. With regard to sleep routines – this is another area of great stress for new moms (and ‘old’ moms I reckon!) Again, books / friends / the tinterweb will spew forth copious amounts of info on what you should be doing, but you really just have to figure out what is best for you. According to my book (see below) and the advice of my trusted friend: before 4 months of age, baby’s don’t learn bad habits, so don’t stress too much about getting the sleeping thing perfect before then. Addi and I are still working on it – she sleeps nicely most nights, from about 7pm to 5am – only occasionally waking up for a feed around 2/3am if she hasnt eaten enough during the day (I think we are really lucky with her!) but I still worry that I haven’t let her learn how to self-soothe and fall asleep on her own. I rock her gently and ‘ssshhhhh’ her until she drifts off and then put her in her cot, but according to everything I read, this is pretty much self-sabotage for the future… We’ll see how it goes. I do reckon routine is key and wish I had known earlier on to implement a good bedtime routine straight from the start (something along the lines of bath/feed/lullaby/sleep at the same time each night etc…) Another tip – swaddling is the way forward (we also cottoned on to this trick a bit late…)

10. Last but not least, remember that some days will be good, and some days will be bad. Expect it and embrace it. Enjoy the good times, and cry if you need to during the bad times. I know it sounds cliched, but it really is so rewarding and it really does go so quickly!

Before I finish up, here are some of my favourite-can’t-live-without products:

- Medela breast pump – I have both the manual (Harmony) and electric (Swing) pumps. They are both fab and although leaning towards the pricey end of the scale, they are definitely worth it. The hospitals here use Medela units themselves which to me speaks volumes.

- Medela microwave sterilising bags – so quick and easy, need I say more!

- Tommy Tippee feeding bibs – so clever – they have a padded area around the neck part so that milk doesnt drip down onto baby’s chest (most bibs are slightly too big around the neck part and baby’s clothes get so wet… Wet clothes can = rash/infection – not ideal…)

- Swaddling blankets – we have quite a few, ranging in size and shape. Love the Miracle Blanket but Addi is now too tall for it, so we’ve recently bought a Swaddle Me Summer wrap which has velcro and also works really well to keep the little wriggler snug.

- Philips Avent clear dummies – okay, I admit I’m a bit of a control freak but I hate it when I have Baby Bird dressed in a cute outfit and the stupid dummy doesnt match, or worse, it has some fugly pattern/colour combo/picture on it! So hard to find clear dummies but good old Amazon came to my rescue :)

- Pram organiser – yes please, more space to put all my crap in seeing that a handbag these days it completely out of the question!

- Dribble Ons or similar – great bibs for keeping baby dry (and looking oh so cool!) when they hit the really drool-y stage (Addi could drool for SA at the rate she’s going – Babylympics here we come!)

- Ear plugs – so that I can sleep at night. Between baby noises from the monitor and hubby’s snoring, it doesn’t happen unless I plug ‘em. If Addi cries, Dad wakes me up or sorts her out himself (see what I’ve done there, clever, no?)

- Baby Sense (book) by Megan Faure and Ann Richardson – I was recommended this by a friend back in SA. It focuses on the sensory world your baby experiences and I found it had some great practical tips for some of the stuff discussed above. Read more about it here, and if it appeals to what you think you’d like your parenting style to be, it may be worth a gander (I got my copy off Amazon).

Would love to hear any product recommendations or bits of advice from other Mommies out there, drop me a comment below or on my Facebook page x

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17 thoughts on “Stuff That All Moms-To-Be Should Know

  1. Great post, Andrea! I could have definitely used the advice about not Googling stuff – I self-diagnosed Ava with impetigo when she actually just had a regular bout of baby acne!

    As you say, everyone has their two cent’s worth, so here’s mine (sorry for the long-windedness) – the only thing I’d add to this is that pumping after a feed isn’t necessary for everyone at the beginning. I had a really strong flow from the day my milk came in (which is not to say that it didn’t hurt like a mofo to feed for about a week), and I think that if I had to pump on top of it, I’d just have continually leaky boobs. Well done for persevering with pumping – if it was me, I’d probably have thrown in the towel completely and just put her on formula. What was she on antibiotics for? Poor little thing!

    I pumped (using a Philips Avent electric pump, which is also very good, but about the same price as Medela – I agree with you, it’s not worth it opting for a cheaper pump – I have used mine loads) and fed Ava from a bottle instead of feeding her directly a few times a week from birth to get her used to the bottle, because I knew she’d be on formula from about 3 months. So if you know you’re going to have to go back to work, it’s a good idea to do this – a woman I know left it too late and now her 4-month-old son totally refuses the bottle and it’s a huge struggle. At the moment, Ava is on formula during the day and I breast-feed her at night and first thing in the morning – it’s a great compromise that isn’t often mentioned in books and things – I didn’t realise it was possible to only feed once or twice a day without pumping. It works perfectly for us, and I love the special alone time that feeding Ava gives me now after spending the day away from her at work.

    Swaddling is the bomb, eh? Ava spent the first month of her life perpetually swaddled, but now she finds it very frustrating because she loves having her hands free to wave around. In SA, we get the Baby Sense products (developed by the writer of the book), and their swaddling blankets are perfect – very roomy and simple, and lovely thick cotton.

    Definitely going to try find those Dribble-Ons, and the Pram Organiser! And I’m totally with you re the clear dummies. Ava loves those weird cheap honey-coloured ones which luckily don’t really clash with anything.

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  3. so so helpful Ands,….from a mom to be who feels pretty clueless at this stage, a blog like this is AMAZING!!

  4. Hey there would you mind stating which blog platform you’re working with? I’m planning to start my own blog in the near future but
    I’m having a hard time making a decision between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Drupal. The reason I ask is because your design and style seems different then most blogs and I’m looking for
    something completely unique. P.S Apologies for getting
    off-topic but I had to ask!

    • Hi Debra,

      My blog was built on WordPress – I’ve tried Blogger but I didnt find it as modern and customiseable as WP. (Just FYI – usually, if you scroll right down to the bottom of most blogs, it will often tell you what platform/theme is being used.)

      The theme I’m using is called Reddle (http://theme.wordpress.com/themes/reddle/) it’s free but I paid extra to be able to customise it ($30 I think – you can edit the css and change fonts etc) I’ve added a header image to mine and a seamless pattern for the background (you can do both of those without paying). I also bought a custom domain name so that it looks more professional. WP has loads of great themes and its quite fun to get started…

      What are you planning to blog about? Would love to hear more :) Hope this has helped!

      Ax

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