I reached out to parents on my Honest Mum Facebook Page asking what advice they’d give to new mums now they’d had their own.
I receive lots of emails from mums-to-be and new mums seeking advice and whilst I have a 7 and 5 year old now, I remember the baby days well.
I’d like to have another baby one day too potentially and if I’m lucky enough to do so, I’ll be returning to this post myself because the mamas featured here share serious pearls of wisdom!
Thank you to everyone who contributed. I’ve included some of the tips below and you can read the full thread HERE.
I hope you find it useful. If you’re struggling, please do reach out for support from your GP, family and friends and know that you’re not alone OK.
What can feel like a cycle of endless sleep deprivation and stress will improve, I promise. This too shall pass.
Enjoy the post.
7 Tips to Help New Mums:
1. Trust Your Gut.
The early days, months and even first year can be tough-going with a baby, and kids present new challenges, whatever their age, all the time. The most popular piece of advice women shared on the FB thread is TO TRUST YOUR GUT.
It will not let you down.
Carrie’ann Hardaker says, ‘Always trust your instincts, nobody knows your baby as well as you do. If you feel there isn’t something quite right go with it and do whatever you need to do. When my youngest was 5 weeks old she wouldn’t settle/eat, her temp kept fluctuating so we went to the emergency drs. By the time I’d got my appointment I’d managed to bring her temp down but she still wasn’t right. I was advised to go home and just keep an eye on her-when I was adamant I wasn’t happy with that I got the obligatory eye roll that you get when people think you’re overreacting and told if I felt it necessary, I should go to A&E. So glad that I did just that as 30 mins after arriving she came up with a rash, rushed for a spinal tap and spent a week in hospital with meningitis. Hands down, it was the worst week of my life but it could have been so much worse’.
It’s vital to trust that powerful maternal instinct. Mama really does know best.
Becky Wood agrees, ‘Use guidance as just that. It’s not gospel, it’s purely advice that needs common sense applied. You know your baby better than anyone. Trust your instincts’.
2. Feeling Out of Your Depth is normal.
Crumbs on the Carpet says, ‘Feeling overwhelmed is totally normal. Your emotions will be all over the place but if you can keep a small part of your brain that reminds you, ‘this too shall pass’ (even if it doesn’t feel like it), things seem a little easier. And don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help. You’re a new mum, not wonder woman!’
Please talk to someone you trust if you are feeling depressed and anxious. Ask your GP for support and advice. I suffered in silence for 10 months after a traumatic birth. Once I got help via the NHS to see a therapist and spoke out to my family and friends, I slowly rebuilt my confidence and started to feel stronger day by day.
3. Birth Plans and Births Might Not Work Out How You Imagined.
Emily Gubby writes, ‘Birth plans rarely work out exactly as you want. Don’t be afraid to change your mind about stuff (example in labour I went from wanting to be 100% drug free to having all the drugs lol!)’. Be kind to yourself. All that matters is mother and baby are safe, not how you birthed or fed your baby.
Claire Norton shares her experience, ‘I had to have an emergency C-section with my first it was the last thing I wanted but that’s how it was. I felt like I had missed out at first, not being able to have a natural birth made me feel less of a woman and then my milk never came in. Didn’t matter how hard I tried with the breast feeding it just didn’t come. I felt a total failure. Then you get the stupid comments from some of your so called friends like. ‘oh you were to posh to push’!!!!! And then I had the breast feeding councillors telling me whatever you do, do not to give your baby formula It’s poison and I was likely to end up with breast cancer (yes seriously she said that) Well now I look back on it all and sometimes I do feel like I failed slightly but since have had another baby, C-Section again & again no milk but I don’t care. Both my children are healthy, safe & alive. I guess what I’m trying to say is, no pregnancy, birth is easy or perfect just go with it and do what is best for you and your baby. Stuff what everyone else says if you want to or don’t want to breast feed don’t feel bad or guilty do what’s best for you. Ignore all the silly comments from people & follow your instincts a happy mummy equals a happy baby equals a happy home & life. Enjoy your baby & don’t worry about what anyone says or thinks’.
I had a crash C-Section with my first that was took a long time to recover from physically and mentally, my second was a calm elective though and I’d made peace with the fact the first birth I’d hoped for didn’t turn out as planned. All that matters is a healthy mum and baby.
4. Friendships Can Change.
Friends without kids might not understand your new world (I’m not sure I fully understood friends that were mothers before I became one myself). Louise Ferne Brown says, ‘You’ll suddenly realise who your friends and family are too… (in a non blaming way!) I hadn’t contemplated so many friends (generally without kids) just disappearing after the initial meet and greet. I hadn’t realised how blinking massive my love and bond would be to my daughter either so my dedication has been to my child and keeping myself on the fun mum wagon!’.
Friendships can change as can how you feel about your own life. It doesn’t mean you won’t feel yourself again in the future or no longer enjoy the same things but having a baby is a big milestone and lifestyle change. I still love a girls night out but these are not as regular as they once were.
Annie Flynn reminds us that all relationships can be put under strain when a baby arrives too, ‘Your relationship with your partner will be under stress but it will get easier so don’t argue over who is more tired. You both are!’.
Take it in turns to share nights if you can and don’t be scared to share how hard you might be finding things. Accept the mess too. I love a spotless house but realised I was putting too much pressure on myself and have lowered my standards a little.
Life might not feel manageable right now but before you know it, you will get into your groove again and a new normal will exist.
5. Be kind to yourself.
As mentioned before, being kind to yourself is key. Treat yourself as you would your best mate.
Jill Thompson advises, ‘Never put too much pressure on yourself..do what is right for you and your family!! Happy mummy=happy baby’.
Rebecca Louise Preston says, ‘The stress… the Mom guilt… the need for a support network as the loneliness is immense! All they tell you is how to care for a baby… not how to care for yourself!!!’
It’s vital you reach out for support, take time out when you can and to connect with other parents in real life and on social media so you feel supported.
6. Get Some Fresh Air
Liz Gillum says, ‘One of the best, but less usual pieces of advice that I got, was to make a big effort to go outside every day. Even if all you do is push the pram round the block, or go to the shop for a pint milk, go outside and get a bit of daylight and air. It’s so important to help you stay sane!’
Don’t feel pressured to lose baby weight, your body has changed for a reason (you made a person so high-five yourself) but when you want to start moving more, slowly at first, PT trainer Colette Cooper has some words of advice,
7. Know That You Have a Choice
Yes listen to medical professionals (not disregarding your gut as we’ve covered before) but know your rights.
Lizzie Somerset says, ‘I wish I’d known with my first baby that everyone including midwives will give advice as to what is best but ultimately I had a choice. You don’t have to be checked ‘down there’ if you don’t want them to! (I didn’t know I could say no). You don’t have to have a sweep. You don’t have to be induced, if you don’t want to. I had choices in the hospital but I didn’t seem to know that and I don’t know why, I just took the midwives/dr’s advice as gospel and didn’t go with my own gut. I know ultimately the professionals are there to help, assist and deliver babies safely into the world, I just felt like a lot of my choices were taken. Everyone is different, it’s OK to ask lots and lots of questions and make your own choice’.
Helen Jackson has advice for mature mums too, ‘ I was 40 when I managed to fall pregnant and 41 when my son was born. Being older does make you feel as though you should have everything under control. Work and social lives are pretty much organised and flowing nicely. When a baby comes along try to remember it’s OK to fall apart a little. In as much as, youve just had a baby. Your body isn’t your own. And if like me it was an. Emergency c section- don’t panic that your now traumatised figure isn’t going to fit into your LBD for a few weeks if not years! I had lots of supportive friends. But equally ones that were expecting me to be out and about without my newborn within a few weeks because they had a drinks party or a work function that needed supporting and I was needed. Well sorry ladies – having a baby and feeling relatively normal takes time. So relax, take each day as it comes, enjoy each and every moment of this wonderful entity that is your child and thank your lucky stars that you did it. That you made this little bundle. And you survived. It’s not too long that your social life is on hold in the grand scheme of things really. But as I said, being a busy older mum has meant there have been different pressures put on me from some’.
I also love this super post offering 17 Tips For A Happier Life With A New Baby by Muddled Mother so don’t miss it.
I want to end with Cheryl Ann’s wise words which sum up new motherhood perfectly, ‘Motherhood and parenting are never ‘textbook’ and despite all the advice you get from everyone, you’ll find your own way through motherhood and you’ll learn what works best for you and your baby despite all the words of wisdom you’ll receive from day 1.’
And that’s totally it. You will feel out of your depth at the start, as we all do on day one of a new job without a manual but day by day you’ll learn what works for you, you’ll find your mama vibe. The other day I was brushing my boys hair after swimming, having cheered them on the pool sidelines, as they passed milestones they thought impossible just a few weeks ago and I felt proud of myself as much as them. I reminded myself that I’m a good mum. Not a perfect mum (that person doesn’t exist but a mum who loves her kids and who tries her best, even if that means hiding from my kids every once in a while in the toilet when they drive me mad).
Please remind yourself of all the brilliant things you are doing for your babies and kids and give yourself a pat on the back.
Thanks for reading x