When my baby made his grand entrance into the world, everything was new and unexpected. I had done my fair share of reading and talking to others beforehand, but nothing could really prepare me for what life had in store with a newborn in my care.
Sure, I heard about the interrupted nights, the crying, the number of nappies I’d need to change…but I soon learned there were plenty of things I wasn’t warned of. Probably not to deter me from having a baby in the first place.
However, in retrospect, I wish someone had told me about these things. So I want to share them with you instead.
Here are 12 things that people probably won’t tell you about life with a newborn baby.
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1. You will still look pregnant.
Don’t be in a hurry to pack away your maternity wear too soon. And don’t be too excited about getting your favourite pair of jeans back out from storage. Not just yet. It’ll take time for your tummy to shrink back to near its original size, and chances are it’ll never quite look the same again anyway. But be gentle on yourself and don’t get caught up with those celebs who seem to have their model bodies back only weeks after giving birth!
2. It’s pretty normal to go from laughing to crying in seconds.
The combination of postpartum hormones, sleep deprivation and feeling overwhelmed at having this totally dependent tiny human in your care… it’s a lot to take in! Getting the baby blues a couple of days or weeks after giving birth is really common, and not something to be worried or ashamed about. Just keep reminding yourself, things will get easier. And remember you’re basically superwoman for having giving birth in the first place.
3. You still can’t drink alcohol (if breastfeeding).
In the same way that alcohol makes its way into your bloodstream when you have a glass of wine, beer or other alcoholic beverage, it also gets into your breast milk. Even if you have just one standard drink, this can still be passed on to your baby who has a tiny and immature liver, which cannot process it well. Hold off that celebratory champagne for a little longer, and abstain until your newborn is at least 3 months of age.
4. Snaps on baby clothing will bring never-ending frustration.
When buying rompers/onesies for your newborn, stay far away from the snap fasteners! Trying to match them up in the middle of the night, or hurriedly attempting to click them together while your little one is crying – it’s really not worth the effort. Also, if your partner is like mine, you’ll probably get endless complaints about how their larger fingers just can’t handle the tiny connections. Instead, get the outfits with two-way zippers (the Bonds Wondersuits are awesome) for easy access during nappy changes. And definitely don’t bother with outfits that you need to pull over your baby’s head. It’s as if you’re asking for an exasperating experience.
5. Newborn fingernails are like little razors.
Who knew such tiny fingers could bear such sharp nails! Trying to cut them will be an incredibly challenging mission, and a true test of coordination and fine motor skills. But you’ll definitely need to do so, even in their first week, because their skin is so delicate and scratches can easily create little cuts. Keep them well trimmed rather than risking a nasty scratch!
6. The laundry and dish washing will never be “done”.
You finished a load of washing? Any bet your little one will have a spit-up in the next half hour. Or if you’re lucky, a blowout. As for the dishes, particularly if you’re using baby bottles, don’t be surprised by how they’ll perpetually be in the sink needing cleaning. Don’t fret over a bit of a build-up in the first few weeks. There are things more important than keeping the dish drying rack and clothes line clear.
7. Your eating patterns will be forever changed.
Eating your dinner when it’s at the perfectly warmed temperature or fresh from the stove is just not going to happen. You’ll learn to not care. You’re guaranteed to also master the skill of eating with one hand (both at home and when you’re out), while juggling a baby in the other. You may even impress yourself at how quickly you can wolf down your lunch before your little one needs you. And don’t feel bad for snacking over your baby’s head while they feed. They couldn’t care less anyway. Just make sure you’re staying healthy!
8. Breastfeeding isn’t always easy.
It can take some time to get used to the different breastfeeding positions, it will probably be a painful experience at first and engorgement can be scary. Do your best in persisting and it will become easier. It’s definitely worth investing in some good quality breastfeeding aids which will make a world of difference, and don’t be afraid to ask for help from a lactation consultant. Also, if breastfeeding doesn’t work out for you and your baby, that’s completely okay and nothing to be ashamed about.
9. Online shopping is a godsend.
Expect a newfound appreciation of online shopping and its unmatched convenience, and feel for the generations before you who didn’t have its luxury. So make use of it. Whether you’re ordering your groceries to your doorstep, or stocking up on nappies via post, online shopping allows you to get the things you need without having to bundle your little one out the door and to the shops (which can be a huge effort in the early weeks). You don’t even need to get out of your pyjamas!
10. You’ll get conflicting advice, about basically everything.
From how to put your baby to sleep, to how often they should be feeding, bathing techniques, developmental milestones, to signs of this and that and… just trust your instincts. You know your baby better than anyone else, and you’ll figure it out. Don’t feel obliged to follow exactly what others tell you to do, because every child is different and some things may or may not work for you.
11. You won’t remember much of this later.
I’m not kidding. I literally cannot remember what the first few weeks postpartum were like. While it might’ve felt like it dragged on at the time, now I look back and see how quickly it all flew past. On the good days, get in your photos, take those selfies with your little one, savour every second. On the bad days and if things are tough, know that things will get better and most importantly, it’s totally worth it!
12. Nobody can tell you what it’ll really be like.
This is the most important thing to know: being a mother is unlike anything you could ever imagine. Every day is a new experience, with new challenges and new discoveries, whether this is your first baby or your tenth. No matter how many books you read, blogs you follow, videos you watch, classes you attend, people you talk to – these things will never fully prepare you for motherhood and the wonders of having a newborn in your care.
Caring for a newborn can be messy, exhausting and confusing, but ultimately it’s rewarding, inspiring and beautiful. You’re taking on the most important and essential job in the world – that of being a parent. And when your little one looks up and smiles at you for the first time – this is what it’s all for.