And times I wish I didn’t!
Pregnancy makes you a magnet for curious children, other mums and the older generation, with the latter trying to offer you ‘helpful’ hints and tips whether you want to hear it or not. I’ve thought back to those little snippets of advice, some I dismissed and should have actually listened and then the really unhelpful ‘wise words’.
Five pieces of advice I wish I had listened to.
Never wake a sleeping baby.
The go to baby tip that I thought people told me when they didn’t know what else to say. Or so I thought.
As it turns out, babies really DO NOT like to be woken up. Not even for feeding. So all of those times I was watching the clock and worrying that our little tike hadn’t been fed for two whole hours and considered waking him up, I should have just let him sleep. Looking back on the first few weeks, Milo never lasted more than three hours before needing to be nursed again and this time reduced to hourly feeds in the day and two hourly feeds at night as he got older. I’m not saying this is because I would disturb his sleep to feed him but I do wonder whether this was a contributing factor to the numerous wake up calls at night. (I am aware babies are meant to wake up through the night, but sore nipples that are attacked hourly are not welcomed with open arms.)
Make freezer meals for when your little bundle arrives
I was (un)lucky enough to have about 8 weeks off work before Milo arrived so I did manage to make a few freezer meals in between my daily walks to get ice cream and creme eggs – crazy pregnant lady life. However, we ate them all by the time Milo was 4 days old and I spent a lot of time telling people that we didn’t need to use them because we had plenty of time to sort our dinner out. Then came Daddy’s return to work and the realisation that those freezer meals really would have been handy! So next time, I will have meals in the freezer that have been stashed in secret so that when Daddy comes home from work, he really will think I’m super mum and I get shit done.
Express your milk at any opportunity
I didn’t do this and it is my biggest regret. Milo struggled to latch on to my left side whilst feeding in the first few weeks and I struggled to get milk when I first started expressing from it too. If I had started expressing from day one, I know I would’ve had more milk for Milo to feed. If I could go back and start the breastfeeding process again, I would have expressed as much as I could to increase my supply and become a milk machine for my very hungry baby!
Make the most of having your other half at home, by resting
Of course you want to rest after having a baby, you deserve it. But, Daddy’s home! Two whole weeks as a little family and you expect me to stay inside and sleep? I wanted to get out and about and show Milo off to the world. We did a lot of that. I remember packing our bag and leaving the house at midday and returning at 10pm when Milo was 3 weeks old after visiting a castle and spending the evening out with family. It was one of my favourite days but I was definitely exhausted. Three weeks post cesarean section and a long day of walking and socialising really took it out of me but at the time I didn’t know why I was thought of as crazy. I do now. I’ll definitely use Dad’s paternity leave as my nap time when we do it again!
Spend time at home in the first few weeks
Again, we did not do that. We didn’t find our feet as parents at home and my recovery was probably longer than it needed to be because I wanted to walk everywhere. Of course I did, it was summer and Milo was born at the hottest time of the year (the hottest and driest Glastonbury Festival in years too). But yes, we should have just enjoyed they summer from our back garden.
And the pieces of advice I wish I hadn’t listened to…
Feed your child every three hours, even if they are sleeping
This may or may not have been the reason Milo was always awake for the first 12 weeks of his life. Next time, as long as our baby is putting on weight from being fed, I am happily going to let them sleep for longer periods of time if that’s what they want to do. (I will forever be grateful for the baby safety feature that makes them wake up during the night, but at least two hours of sleep at a time will always be welcomed!)
Get your baby in a routine from day one
No. Not happening. Don’t feel the pressure to have a perfect clockwork baby. Especially if you are breastfeeding. Breastfed babies are fed on demand. You might see a pattern after a few weeks where they are going for longer periods of time between feeds and then a growth spurt happens and everything goes out of the window. Just expect to feed your baby when they are hungry and you won’t feel like you are failing at finding a routine. It will happen. Just not as a newborn, no matter how good your best friends mums cousins baby is at this routine crap. Lucky them. If your baby is happy, healthy and responsive then you are the best at your job.
Switch to formula to help your baby sleep through the night
It did work. But within a month, Milo rejected breastfeeding and I wasn’t ready. My milk disappeared without any feeling as Milo gradually refused his feeds but guzzled a bottle of formula milk.
For us, the dream feed didn’t work. It just meant that Milo had an extra feed at 10pm before waking up again at midnight. The dream feed could be a god send for some but Milo obviously thought it was an opportunity to get an extra feed. In some ways, I’m glad I listened to this piece of advice because I found out that it didn’t work for us but it could have worked and I would then be promoting this method.
I guess advice comes from generations of mothers who found that these little things all worked for them in different ways.
Unfortunately, parents do have to find things out for themselves and for us, as Milo’s parents, we are grateful for any piece of advice that has been shared and feel honoured to share what we find helpful when we have been asked. So thank you for the advice, it has all been used – if not in everyday life, then most certainly for blogging material! Carry on supporting each other as parents, and we will all have days when we feel we have smashed it!