Baby bubble: 7 practical tips for you and your newborn

While expectant women often spend a good part of nine months reading up on pregnancy and birth, there is often little time left to really think about your newborn's first few weeks.

You may have all the furniture, cute clothes and feeding paraphernalia, but adequate preparation for adapting to parenthood can really help if you arrive home deliriously happy, but a little tender and tired.

Tip 1: Be realistic

"Make sure you know what to expect and be realistic - babies do change your life," stresses Marie Longworth, from breastfeeding support charity Families and Babies (F.A.B).

Tip 2: Consider your support

"Before you have your baby, think about who will support you. Make sure you have things like breastfeeding helpline numbers to hand, and stock up the cupboards and freezer with quick, easy nutritious meals and snacks."

Tip 3: Give yourself permission to put life on hold

The precious postnatal period is very different to what our own mothers experienced. If all is well, you can be discharged from hospital as early as six hours after giving birth.

Sore, tired and in need of a little privacy, you may not want a welcome party in the lounge, so think carefully about how you will manage visitors in the early days. There will be many loved ones eager to bond with your baby, but no bond is more important than the mother's.

"Give yourself permission to put your life on hold for a few days or weeks," urges Marie. "Nothing else matters except responding to your baby at this stage. Put your feet up and just enjoy getting to know the newest addition to your family."

Tip 4: Respect your hormones - and there are no rules

Three decades ago women had up to a fortnight on a hospital ward, with fellow new mums and lessons such as bathing their babies. So if you feel under pressure to accommodate extended family, but crave a cup of tea with a friend in the same boat, remember there are no rules.

"Accept that you will feel very emotional, it's normal and it's due to your hormones and lack of sleep," explains Marie. "You may feel elated one minute and be in tears the next, but it's okay to feel that way in the first few days."

Tip 5: Keep your strength up

You will need to keep your strength up to recover from birth, especially if your body is busy keeping up with your baby's demand for milk supply.

If bottle feeding, familiarise yourself with the new equipment as early as possible. Sterilising and preparing formula has lots of strict rules to follow.

Tip 6: Do a little research and ask for help

If you wish to establish breast-feeding, staff in maternity wards often lack adequate time to support you, as can community midwives due to a heavy work load, so research local help points in advance.

"It's better to ask for help or information early on rather than struggle until things become a problem," says Marie.

Tip 7: Enjoy your special time

Most importantly, enjoy this precious time. It will whizz by in a flash so follow your instinct and do things your way. Your baby is the priority. Everyone else can wait.

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A former senior editor on the Daily Express Saturday magazine, Denise Marshall specialises in lifestyle and parenting.


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