Bringing your new baby home can be an excited, yet daunting, experience. Being prepared before the big day can help reduce the feeling of overwhelm and allow you to enjoy this precious time.
Briony, host of our New Mums Facebook support group and mum of three, shares her top tips on preparing to bring your baby home and settling into motherhood.
“I wish I knew what I know now”
I still remember the day I bought Connor, my first baby, home from the hospital. It was an exciting day and I was so ready to start my new life with my new family.
The reality of arriving home with a brand new baby was much scarier and confronting than I could have imagined. The support of the nurses who were helping me learn to breastfeed, the comforting buzz of the busy ward, the other mums and the knowledge if I needed help was right there was all gone. It was completely up to us to keep this little human safe, happy and alive!
I wish I knew then what I know now.
Three babies later and completing a breastfeeding counselling course has given me a lot of insight into how to prepare for the coming home, and also how to expect to feel. Here is a list of helpful things that might not be thought of in the excitement of giving birth.
Have your home feel like a nest
Pre-organise to have a friend or family member make your house into a nest for you before you arrive home. It’s easy to think that your partner will organise it while you’re in the hospital, but the reality is they will be busy, excited and possibly a little overwhelmed and may not have time or know-how to nest up.
Creating a nest is just as much about the feel as it is the practicality. Little things like having easily washable blankets folded around the living areas, a fridge full of healthy and warming meals and snacks, and lovely candles/low light lamps can really set the mood for both mum and baby to feel calm. I loved having a little nesty bed set up in the living area, lush pillows and warm blankets so I could lie down, feed and doze with my babies while still being around the family.
Stock up on pre-cooked meals
Having pre-cooked meals available is an obvious one and a wonderful idea to help you enjoy your time with a new baby without too much stress. If you’re short of time or don’t enjoy cooking, setting up a meal tree with friends is a great move. For those who are happy to spend time in the kitchen, make double of every meal you cook. You can then freeze them for when sleep deprivation takes over and you don’t have the energy to whip up a nourishing meal.
Tell visitors you will contact them when you’re ready
Everyone is going to be excited to meet this new little person. For some new mums, they’re happy to host visitors and show off their new arrival straight away. But other mums want to have a few weeks to settle in, bond and just be with their baby. This is more than ok.
In fact, in many cultures, no one meets baby for a month so the mumma and baby can fully bond. Factors like the type of birth you experienced, the type of family you have, how you are going with feeding and your own personal needs will affect what’s best in this situation.
By preparing everyone’s expectations prior to birth will help avoid the stress of hurting feelings or too many people dropping in before you’re ready.
Have a phone support friend ready
Coming home can be a beautiful experience. It can also be overwhelming and with the dropping of hormones, the days after having baby can be a turbulent time emotionally and physically. Knowing you have a caring ear ready to take your calls can be very comforting. It’s great to choose someone who has had a baby and can empathise with how you are feeling.
Utilise breastfeeding support
Breastfeeding for the first time can take a while to flow and feel natural. Personally I found it took 6 weeks to establish with each baby. Having support organised before the baby is born can be an invaluable tool that may make the difference to successful breastfeeding.
The Australian Breastfeeding Association (ABA) are a wealth of information. They have free helplines and if you join your local group prior to having a baby you will have a personal contact. The counsellors can come to your house to help improve your breastfeeding experience if needed.
Let go of expectations
This may be the biggest lesson we learn as parents.
Welcoming a new baby into your lives won’t necessarily be what you imagined and plans fly out the window. With any part of life, having expectations can often lead to feeling like we have failed or we are inadequate. Having a baby isn’t like it looks in the movies or on social media. I think making a strong choice to surrender to everything that motherhood brings can be life-changing and can help you embrace the whole wonderful, exhausting, amazing and challenging journey for what it is.
Mantras and affirmations are a great way to prepare yourself for the surrender to motherhood. Some examples of these include “I easily let go of expectations and flow with what comes” “I surrender to the full beautiful experience of motherhood” “I am relaxed and at ease with motherhood”.
Ask for help
In today’s world, independence is seen as a strength. This is a great trait to have, but so is the ability to ask for help when you need it. It really does take a village to raise a child and people love to help and support new mums. Reaching out can be difficult but the more you learn to get comfortable with it, the more you realise your family and friends have been right three waiting to be asked. People often don’t want to interfere and need you to ask before they can provide you support.
Rest when the baby rests
This is the best advice I ever received. Your body has been through a lot, it’s recovering from pregnancy, birth, making milk and getting used to a lot less sleep! So if your house is a mess and dishes not done, try to let some of this go and just rest at any opportunity. It is also a gift to nap with your baby. Studies have shown that a deeper bond can form and that babies tend to be more settled.
If you’re an expectant mum or a new mum looking for additional support and professional advice, jump over and join the Whole Body Health & Wellness New Mums Facebook Group.