10 tips for a new mum

1. Sleep when baby sleeps

mum and baby asleep

When you have a baby your body goes through so many hormonal changes and when it comes to delivery that can happen at any time. Not everyone is ready for it. After you’ve given birth in hospital it can be uncomfortable and you will want to be home as soon as possible. Your will want your routine back, but everything changes. Enjoy your stay at the hospital because the midwives are there to help and support with any questions before you leave.

When you do get to take your little one home, you may feel more relaxed as your in your usual surroundings, your own bath, toilet, kitchen and your own bed! But night feeds and day feeds do get the better of you and you will feel your awake more than asleep, but the baby sleeps whenever the feel like it. Put down that washing, leave the washing up and get into bed, when your baby has a nap, you have a nap! Don’t worry about chores, meeting with people, having visitors, that can all wait, after all a tired mummy isn’t fun!

2. Accept help

Don’t be a proud mum and think your superwoman, if you need to sleep or take time for you, accept it when a midwife or family or even friend offer to come round and help. Everyone wants to make you happy and who doesn’t want a cuddle with a baby? My family were quite helpful, most of the Time they did just want a cuddle from the baby, but a lot of the time they would take her off my hands so I could just go to the toilet or wash up or sterilize bottles. Being a new mum is not easy, nobody said it was and if they did they’re lying.

Also asking for help is good. I called my friend who I’ve known for years and asked if she would watch the baby whilst I did shopping. That gave me such freedom I went out and done shopping without a baby attached to me or crying in the buggy. I feel I didn’t ask for enough help and I was offered it enough. But I thought I could do it just me and my partner but we were both exhausted a lot of the time.

3. Do baby groups

The one thing I regret not doing with my first born is baby groups. My partner worked full time at a local retail shop. He would sometimes work from 5am till 11pm I would be sat alone with my new baby all day long. Just sat there waiting the hours, with nothing to do but clean bottles, feed, pump, change nappies and repeat. I had no social interactions other than family members coming and going every so often to see the baby while she was still a baby! Friends and family could see I was suffering from anxiety as a mother especially not knowing what to expect from it at all! Even though my whole life since I could remember I wanted a baby and that was it.

When my lovely health visitor came to see me she kept on at me to come to her baby groups she ran but the more I stayed in the more I would be too anxious to leave my flat. I eventually got the courage to go to one of her groups with my daughter when she was 9 months old! It was lovely, there were other mothers just like me who felt how I did, but due to me living in a different area to all the other mothers I didn’t make any long term friends which is what I needed. When I had my son I was better with going out, we had moved to a more secure area and my partner stopped work to help me raise two under two. When my daughter started nursery I tried and tried going to different baby groups and it made me feel so much better than going home with my son and letting him play alone, I got to know some other mums that I now see on the school run to have a good old chat.

4. Look after yourself

As a new mum your main priority is going to be that beautiful baby you’ve made. I gave up on making an effort to brush my hair and paint my nails. Being so tired from night feeds and didn’t care for myself. I wish I did because my mental health maybe wouldn’t have suffered as much as it did. Its no lie that all new mums get a little touch of the baby blues but some more than others get it worse with debilitating anxiety to accompany it. Sometimes you have to put YOU first!

Have a bath, wash your hair, do what makes you feel good! Ask family or a babysitter for a break, you deserve time and space to make your life happy.

5. Socialize 

As I said before, go to baby groups! Or if that doesn’t suit you visit your mum, or aunt or old best friend. Being alone when you have a new baby can be such a lovely time but lonely as well. Try going to a new cafe or a local park. There is always single or stay at home mums and dads to chat to. There’s always someone in the same boat as you! Have a night out with a friend or family, get someone you trust to watch the baby and let your hair down, meet new people and have fun chatting all night long instead of changing nappy after nappy.

When I was pregnant with my daughter I started an adult learning course for maths as it was something I failed time and time again at school and college, I met loads of other mums who had slightly older children I was the only pregnant one. I passed just after having my baby girl, I wish that I had stuck to it and done level two. But my anxiety was playing up before each lesson I stopped. But I still see some of the mums now and they are friends for life.

6. Be honest

Honesty is the best policy, if your not feeling 100% talk to someone. Weather its a friend, family, health visitor, midwife or doctor. I was offered medication when my daughter was just 6 weeks old. I refused and tried to get over my mental health problems myself. Others may find they help but I’ve done CBT and counselling instead and it has helped me soo much to get out of the house more. And even to start driving lessons again which I was petrified of.

Never hide how you really feel. Talking to a professional can really help, I find just talking about what I’m going through helps relieve negative thoughts and feeling that sometimes come. We all have good and bad days but never ignore your negative thoughts, don’t worry about someone taking your baby because of being honest about how you feel, as long as you are able to accept help and have supportive family nothing will happen to you or your baby.

7. Treat yourself

woman shopping

Want that new dress you’ve been seeing every day for the past week? Get it! Wanting your hair and nails done to feel better about your appearance? Do it! 
If you are not feeling good in yourself, it shows, treating yourself now and again is no trouble at all. Making an effort to just get out of the house and brush your hair can be hard. Ask a family member to watch the baby for a night. You and a friend can go out and be ‘normal’ for a night or you and your partner could just chill and sleep and catch up on well needed rest?

8. Build a Routine

You may hear this A LOT but, routine is key! Getting out everyday for fresh air with the baby helps break up your day. Go for a coffee with a friend and some other babies for your little one to interact with. Make it a weekly thing so you have something planed. Setting up a bedtime routine first will be the best beginning of you getting your life back on track.

Most babies around 3-4 months can start having a good sleep routine, some earlier and some later. Having a bath, bottle/breast, cuddle, story and some lullabies before bed sets your baby up for the best and fullest night sleep!  Without a routine you and your baby may experience stress and anxiety. As you are both un aware or what will happen next, you may get bored, lonely and depressed. Teaching your baby day and night time also helps them develop a sense of routine. Some parents don’t take their newborns out for a while because of being tired, nervous and cooped up. But, taking baby out in the day and getting plenty of sunshine on you both helps them be a calmer more grounded baby. Having it darker in the bedroom when its bedtime lets them realize that it is nighttime.

9. Your body won't bounce back

mum tum

After you become a mum your body changes. It has gone through months and months of growing a tiny little human. Then giving birth puts your body through so much trauma! Don’t expect that straight after you have your baby that you will just bounce back to the old you. You will have a bump or loose skin for at least 6 weeks. Don’t be doing too much vigorous exercise, your baby needs you. Don’t worry if your hair is falling out, its totally normal because of all your hormones. You will find that down below doesn’t quite feel the same. Don’t rush into having sex again straight away as it can be painful. After around 6 weeks depending on the labor and birth you had, you can start to do some yoga, and brisk walking if you feel like it.

10. Breastfeeding is hard work

breastfeeding problems

If you do decide to breast-feed your newborn, hats off to you! Some women take to it like a duck to water. Others struggle in fact for the majority of new mums it is one of the hardest part of having your baby. Your nipples will be sore, of course they will because you have never let a baby suckle on them before.

Your milk will come in eventually. Normally at day 3 the colostrum turns into actual liquid gold for your baby.  Your breast will hurt but the key is to keep feeding your baby on demand. And they will demand your boobies a lot. Make sure you have time to feed your baby. Don’t make so many plans in the first 6 weeks. Bond with your newborn and feed when your baby needs feeding. If you are struggling with latching you can contact a local midwife, health visitor, doctor or a lactation consultant. If you feel like giving up, you’re tired and feel its not working, keep trying. You can do it. It’s the hardest thing but you will get through it and believe me it’s the best thing.

Bonding with your baby knowing that you can keep them alive by feeding them with something your body is naturally making for them is an incredible feeling. These are the most common problems with breastfeeding, not to worry though. Each problem has its very own solution.

Tongue-tied

This is a problem that occurs at birth that prevents the tongue from being able to move freely. It is when the frenulum underneath the tongue is too small. Symptoms will vary but usually, the baby will have problems regarding trying to feed. Whilst it can improve on its own after your baby reaches the age of 2-3 years old, it can be treated by cutting the frenulum. This treatment is known as a frenectomy.

Nipple confusion

This occurs when you are trying to breastfeed but have introduced a bottle and/or dummy. As the baby can easily adapt to the large size of the teat of a bottle, it can make it difficult going back to the breast. If you would like to successfully breastfeed, you should avoid using a bottle or dummy for the first six weeks. If they have already been introduced, you should discontinue in order to have the best chance of continuing. Check out this article for tips on ditching the dummy.

I never heard of it nipple confusion, until I had my daughter. When I decided to bottle and breastfeed my daughter she got upset every time I tried to breastfeed. A bottle is much easier for their mouths to adjust to, but going back to the breast when they are only just starting out with feeding can cause confusion and a very stressed baby. I would recommend you don’t bottle-feed your baby until at least they are in a good routine of breastfeeding and know how to latch properly and comfortably.  If your baby won’t take to the breast after bottle feeding, keep trying you will get there!

Not latching

As feeding is a new thing for your baby and you, it may be difficult to figure out a position that is comfortable and is suitable for you both. This could improve as you get used to each other, but other things that can help is asking a midwife or lactation consultant for some tips as they have lots of experiences and knowledge regarding breastfeeding.

Low milk supply

When your baby is firstborn, it is very common that your breast will not produce a sufficient amount of milk. However, regular feeds as well as expressing will help your milk flow come through at a better rate that will suit your baby’s needs. Avoid using formula milk to feed your baby as this will likely affect your supply as your body will only produce how much milk your baby is drinking. If you are worried that your baby is not getting enough, you should contact your health visitor or midwife and they will be able to check your baby’s weight for concern.

We’ve all been there, being told by a midwife that “there’s no such thing as not enough milk.” That is true in a way, but if you’re not feeding every time your baby demands it. Your breasts simply won’t produce the amount of milk needed.

How to improve my low milk supply?

Make sure to avoid using a dummy, feed as much as you can to get that milk in. Soon enough you’ll have enough supply to even keep some in the fridge. Things that can bring your supply on more is oats, fenugreek capsules, spinach, garlic, sesame seeds, etc. Make sure that when your feeding use both sides, this will increase the milk and encourage it to come in both sides rather than just the one, no one wants a lopsided breast! Your baby will choose a favourite breast, but don’t let that stop you from switching it up.

Don’t use formula milk this will only stop you from getting the amount you need in. Lastly, make sure you’re comfortable with this. If you feel forced into feeding your baby because of other mums. Don’t beat yourself up, its not the end of the world if you don’t want to breastfeed. Some people feel pressured and it slows down the healing proses from birth and stops you bonding with your infant. If you want to bottle feed, bottle feed if you want to breastfeed but need help don’t be afraid to ask it!

Sore nipples

Almost every woman when breastfeeding at some point will experience sore or cracked nipples and there are many things that you can do. Such as use a nipple cream, avoid a poor-latch, try nipple shields. If all else fails, many women tend to like using savoy cabbage leaves which have been known to naturally cool and reduce pain. A hot compress could also be beneficial, especially if there is any type of inflammation.

My experience with breastfeeding

Through my whole pregnancy, I wished to breastfeed my baby girl, I never considered using a bottle. When the day came that she was born 12.58am after an 8-hour labour and pre-eclampsia issues. I was knackered. The midwives and nurses left me alone with my baby to sleep, shower, and bond. Soon the time came that they encouraged me to feed her. She was a tiny baby only 5 pounds 12oz, I was so scared that I would drop her!

The midwife helped her latch, but it wasn’t as easy as my friends and family had told me. Was I not good enough for my baby? Do I not have the strength to feed her properly? All horrid thoughts rushed through my head. Because of the pre-eclampsia issues. I had to stay in for a few days with my baby girl. Which was fine as it gave me more time to bond and try get to grips with feeding. My partner came to visit me, and so did all of his family on the same day.

Trying to breastfeed for a first time mum in front of my in-laws was not fun or successful. They left after a few cuddles and a little bit of chit chat. So that I and my partner could try to get our daughter to feed properly.

Breastfeeding without support

With the midwives help and the lactation consultant, I got her to have a few suckles and she latched. We were sent home the next day. After a tough night of not getting her to latch and me being exhausted, they let me take her home and try in the comfort of my own living space.

When we got home it was so surreal. My daughter was three days old and was slightly yellow. It was only mild Jaundice and my midwife said the breast milk would help. After 4 days of trying and trying she was not getting enough, I worried everyone would judge me especially other mums. But my baby girl had bottles instead, it was still bottles of my breast milk, we didn’t formula feed her until she was around 2 weeks old when my milk stopped coming through as much.

16 months later I gave birth to a baby boy and successfully breastfed him for two weeks, the only reason I stopped was due to the stress of moving house and having a toddler that needed my full attention. I would happily have another baby and breastfeed and not formula feed at all.

The best breastfeeding positions

mum feeding baby

My favourite position is the rugby hold (clutch position) so that you can relax without moving into different angles. Here is a step by step for you to achieve this position.

  1. Sitting in a chair or bed upright, grab a pillow for your back and a pillow for under your arm for baby to happily lay next to you.
  2. Choose which breast you would like to feed on
  3. Place your baby on the pillow, hip to hip. (ideally in just a nappy and you without a top for skin to skin)
  4. Whilst supporting the baby’s neck with your hand, level baby’s nose with your nipple and guide them onto your breast so they can latch when ready.

Laying on your side is great if your night breastfeeding in bed, or if you have had a tough delivery such as a cesarean section. You should start by getting into a comfortable position on your side depending on which breast you want to feed from.

Have your baby’s hips facing you, tummy to tummy! (Again with skin to skin this really helps have a good feed.) You could place some pillows behind you for support as you could be there for a while. You can then use your free arm to support your baby, whilst putting them into a good position with the breast.

The cradle-hold feeding position

This is a good all round position. This is mostly what you will be doing after having your baby at the hospital. You can do it sitting up in bed, feeding chair or sofa. To get started you will need to lay your baby across your lap with or without a feeding pillow. (These can be purchased at any parenting store or online.)

Make sure to remove any tight clothing from you and baby, maintaining that skin to skin contact. Have your baby, by the position of the breast you would like to feed on. Have your baby’s lower arm under yours for comfort. Then make sure their ears, shoulders and hips are in a straight line.

Why breastfeeding is the best

The perfect food

Breast vs bottle? It’s no secret that breastfeeding is better than a bottle for your baby in terms of nutrition. Mothers breast milk is a perfectly complete food. Providing all-natural vitamins and minerals, even antibodies that will help out the immune system.

Breast is best but this is not too say that bottle feeding is bad? Some women cannot breastfeed due to medical conditions.  Long ago when formula milk was invented it did, in fact, save many babies lives. It is considered a healthy alternative, providing babies with what they need to grow.

What formula milk to buy?

Whilst it is no secret that breastfeeding is best as it does provide all the nutrients that your baby needs. Sometimes a mother may not be able to produce enough milk. The baby may not be able to drink from the nipple, or the mum just may not want to breastfeed. Most formula milks are made the same way formula milk is considered a complete food, that is the best alternative to breastmilk.

Let's discuss the four main types of formula milk and when you would need them. It’s also advised that once you’ve chosen a brand that you shouldn’t switch between because they are all made slightly different and this could give baby an upset tummy and could even give them diarrhoea.

Cow’s milk formula

SMA baby milk 

Most bottle fed babies will be given cow’s milk formula because it has the right balance of nutrients making the formula easier to digest. Babies usually do well on cow’s milk formula, however some babies can be allergic to the proteins in the cows milk. The proteins are called: casein and whey. Babies can also be allergic to the sugar in cow’s milk which is known as lactose, the allergy is called lactose intolerance. If they suffer from any allergy to the cow’s milk they will may need another type of formula.

Goat’s based formula

You may be wondering why goats milk-based formula. The simple answer is because it contain more naturally occurring nutrients. For example, goats milk in comparison to cow’s milk has 46% more vitamin A, 33% more magnesium, 37% more Vitamin C, 10% more calcium which means that overall there is less need for artificial ingredients to improve the nutritional value. Whilst goats milk is not suitable for someone with lactose intolerance, it does contain a lot less.

If you directly compare goats milk and cows milk, you will find that goats milk is the healthier option, and whilst that comes at a slight cost, your babies health is much more important. If your baby has an allergy to the proteins found in cows milk, goats milk should not be given as it contains very similar protein compounds and could cause harm.

Hydrolysed protein formula

Hydrolysed protein formula is the closest in size to breast milk, which makes it easier to digest whilst still teaching babies stomach and intestines how to handle protein. Research suggests that infants fed hydrolysed protein formula are less likely to develop atopic diseases such as eczema. The hydrolysed formula is usually a good choice if your baby suffers from colic, or stomach upset a lot.

Soya based formula

soya milk for babys

Soy formula is safe for most healthy babies and is just as nutritious as other types of formula, it is the most beneficial for vegan families and babies who have an allergy to other milk proteins or lactose. Common side effects of soya based formula include constipation, abdominal pain and nausea.

All these kinds of milk above are all nutritional made to a standard of vitamins and whilst ingredients will vary, they are pretty much made equally. Hospitals in the UK tend to use Aptamil as their option but only you can decide what is right for your baby. Through my own experience, my firstborn daughter was completely fine on cow-based formula milk but my second-born son was not.

Lactose intolerance

When my son was a baby, the formula milk just didn’t agree with him. It would constantly make him sick and it turned out that he was lactose intolerant.

The negatives of formula milk

The downsides of infant formula are that it can have some side effects due to the proteins found in cows milk. Infants can have an allergy which can cause symptoms such as abdominal pain, diarrhoea, rectal bleeding, skin rash, and wheezing. My son was breastfed for 2 weeks, which had to stop due to a low supply. He consumed breastmilk completely fine and when we switched to formula, he struggled.

He would be sick after each feed, regurgitating most of it back up, we tried switching and tried other kinds but they had the same effect on him. At 6 months, we introduced weaning so that we could cut down his bottles and still get him the nutrition that he needed. At around 11 months (earlier than recommended, but as our health visitor recommended.) Instead of switching him to full-fat cows milk, we switched him to organic soy and oat milk which stopped his sickness.

After doctors appointments and seeing our health visitor, it turned out that he was lactose intolerant. We all cut out dairy and now he is a healthy two-year-old. If you can breastfeed, it’s recommended to do it until they are 12 months or for as long as you can! What is better breast vs bottle? Well, breast wins first place for sure, but the second place option is still good.

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