If your newborn baby could talk, these are the 10 things they would want you to know.
1. Learn about the fourth trimester from your baby’s perspective
Before your baby was born, they were in a relatively dark, warm, and cosy place. They slept when they were gently rocked as you went about your day, and they never felt hungry, thirsty, hot, cold, lonely, or scared.
Life outside the womb is drastically different, so the key is to try to go with the flow and recreate those lovely conditions to support you and your baby through this beautiful but challenging period. Learn about the fourth trimester here
2. Learn how to recognise and respond to your baby’s cues
Settle in, observe your precious and unique baby, and get to know their little signals when they’re tired or hungry, and when they need a break, or they’re ready to engage.
You’re getting to know one another, and when you’re able to respect and respond to your baby’s cues, your baby will be calmer and you will gain confidence in your parenting. Learn how to recognise and respond to your baby’s cues here.
3. Parent your newborn from the heart
You will probably be bombarded with opinions on parenting, or you might be comparing your baby to someone else’s. Instead, listen to your own inner voice as you raise your beautiful little person.
Ask yourself if what you’re choosing to do is aligning with your own values, beliefs, culture, upbringing, and priorities when it comes to things such as your baby’s sleep, babywearing, routines, and feeding. Learn how to parent your newborn from the heart here.
4. Understand that newborn baby crying is communication
Hearing your baby cry can be hard, particularly when you’re sleep deprived. You don’t want to see your baby distressed, but it’s important to recognise that crying is your baby’s way of communicating their needs.
There are several reasons why a baby will cry, and how much they cry varies between babies due their unique temperaments. Learn their cries, and find the solutions that work best for both of you. It’s important to never leave a baby to cry, and to understand that newborns cannot self-soothe and do not have the brain power to manipulate. Learn how your baby’s crying is trying to communicate here.
5. Accept that your baby may only sleep in your arms
Your baby has just spent 9 months close to you, listening to your heartbeat and your voice, whilst snug and safe in your womb. It’s not surprising that in your arms is exactly where they want to be.
It can be exhausting and overwhelming, but knowing that it’s normal and a realistic expectation will hopefully help you to be patient, kind, and understanding as your baby adjusts to life outside the womb. You cannot spoil them with too much love and reassurance. Learn more about why your baby may only sleep in your arms here.
6. Ditch placing high expectations on yourself to be the perfect mother
We all have grand plans about the type of parent we’ll be before the baby comes along. But, if you catch yourself comparing your parenting to someone else’s, you feel judged or you’re doing something you swore you’d never do, remember that there is no perfect parent.
Instead, recognise that you’re doing the best you can, acknowledge that you’re going to have bad days, and remember that one day they won’t need you so much. Trust your intuition, and choose joy over guilt during your motherhood journey and ditch placing high expectations on yourself to be the perfect mother.
7. Understand matrescence, and the changes in your brain when you become a mother
As you become a mother, your brain undergoes a massive transformation due to the hormonal changes during pregnancy, birth, and early infancy. Many women can feel like something is very wrong, when in fact this stage of adjustment and discomfort is normal.
Some of the emotions associated with matrescence can feel like postpartum depression or anxiety, but the purpose of these emotions is to enhance your parenting skills and shouldn’t last past infancy. It’s normal and okay if you don’t always enjoy it: you’re human and have your own needs.
8. You will experience mum guilt but you can stop feeling guilty about these things
Mum guilt can be confronting, surprising, and can strike at any time. Your baby needs you to thrive, so you have to give yourself permission to stop feeling guilty about so many things.
This includes asking for help and support, taking care of yourself, feeling your emotions whatever they may be, needing time to yourself, and taking a day off or ditching the routine once in a while. You’ll be a better mother if you stop letting guilt, fear, and shame control your parenting experience.
9. You need to practice self-care but it doesn’t have to be so complicated
Of course self-care is important, but it can just be too hard for the average new parent to do. You can’t often just slip away for a massage, or a night out with friends when you have a newborn.
True self-care is doing things that bring you joy, and can be found in the small daily moments with your baby instead. Ideas include getting out for a walk in nature, putting your favourite music on, celebrating little wins, speaking kindly to yourself, deep breathing, and practicing mindfulness even as you hold your baby.
10. Find your tribe, and build support networks
You’ve heard the phrase, ‘it takes a village’ probably countless times, but most of us don’t have a village like families once did (or still do in many areas of the world). So, it’s up to you to find or create your own tribe. Asking for help and support is critical, and is not a sign of failure.
Wherever you can, put that support network in place. Get your partner on board, call on family members, ask friends for help (you can do the same for them one day), and join local or online parent support communities. A happy mother means a happy baby.