5 Things I know about Newborn Land

A sponsored post for BUPA

If you were anything like me after you had your first baby you would have been in shock and dismay that they actually let you out of the hospital with the baby. I mean, WHAT ARE YOU DOING? ARE YOU SURE I CAN TAKE HER? HOW ARE WE MEANT TO KNOW WHAT WE ARE DOING?

A little visual, if you will.

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Huh, it was a baby all along! See also: OH MY GOD HOW DO I LOOK AFTER A BABY?!

After giving birth for the first time I was so paralysed by fear (and sore breasts and stitches and general exhaustion) that I convinced the midwives that I needed to stay an extra night, which they were kind enough to do, but soon enough it became evident that they needed the room for someone else and no, we couldn’t really sell our house and move into the maternity ward. We were sent on our way.

Gulp.

Those first weeks and months with my first baby were a blur of happiness, hormones, tears, exhaustion and of course anxiety, self doubt, pure fear and eventually, a semblance of routine and pattern that made me think that MAYBE we could get through this.

Of course, fast-forward to my third child and things were a little different.

Another visual, if you will.

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Just over 24 hours since she was pushed into the world I was with a smile! A baby! What appears to be confidence and freshly washed hair(?!) desperate to get home and get on with it. Huh.

Despite all that, I COMPLETELY get all of the feelings that come with that first baby. The first time. So here are five things that I know about newborn land that can hopefully help you feel a little more confident in yourself (even when you don’t know what you are doing) when that new baby arrives in the door.

1. No one knows what they are doing

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Seriously. No one. Not even Kate Middleton. You can be an aunt to 56 nieces and nephews, have been a nanny to 4 children, a mid-wife who has delivered 3 babies a day but when you have your own baby and you arrive home with said baby it’s OK to shit yourself a little. MOST OTHER PARENTS ARE SHITTING THEMSELVES TOO.

Sure, that feeling may pass 4 minutes, 4 weeks or 4 months in to it (I’m almost 10 years in and I still don’t really know what I am doing) but there will still be times you don’t really knows what you are doing.

There is no manual or magic answer (despite what all the books, forums and websites out there tell you) . Everyone is in a little shock, or pain, or delirium from exhaustion and of course they may be high on love hormones for their baby and partner and new family, but everyone will have a moment of “Um, ok. What now?” I still did after Maggie, despite that confidence; of course I got her into her cot and thought, “Crap. A baby. Right.”

2. Things that may have seemed abhorrent to you 12 months ago are now SWEET AS

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Swollen post birth? Here, whack a zooper dooper into your pad to ease the pain. Cracked nipples that are bleeding? Of course it makes perfect sense to go sit out in the sunshine without a top on leaking milk down your ample guts and if anyone sees, I actually couldn’t care less if I tried.

You smell vaguely like a tepid Russian cabbage soup (thanks to the cabbage leaves on your hot boobs) and you are potentially thrown up on, wee’d on and most definitely poo’d on but it’s completely fine. No biggie.

10 years in and I have some recollection of a time when I thought I was relevant and cool. I think it was briefly between 2004 and 2006. Once that kid is out you will find all the things you never even thought possible, happen. Kid watching Ipod at far too early an age? Tick! Co-sleeping with a kid because you are just so tired who even cares less? Tick! Catching your kid’s vomit in your hands to avoid it hitting the carpet just so you don’t have to clean the carpet in the car/house wherever? Tick!

Best you just go with the flow.

3. You will eat more than Henry the 8th in those first few weeks

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Never will you be hungrier than in the first few weeks after having a baby. And I KNOW that’s wasn’t just me. The display of pure gluttony put on by me last year when Maggie was born put Mr Creosote to shame. The combination of breastfeeding and exhaustion creates some kind of super cell of hunger, the likes of which I have never experienced before. I say to you friends, embrace it. You need the calories. And if you were like me, you’ll probably still somehow manage to drop weight whilst eating. It doesn’t last for long, but there is this magical period where you cannot get enough in, whilst still managing to expend calories and energy from sitting and breastfeeding. Embrace my friends!

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4. Don’t compare yourself to ANYONE

Although social media can be an amazing way to be connected with other new parents for support and advice and sometimes just a good old laugh, don’t compare yourself to ANYONE ELSE. You’re you. Your baby is YOUR BABY and you will do things in your own time and in your own way. It is SO hard in those first weeks and comparing yourself to another mum’s perfectly filtered and curated social media feed is NOT GOING TO HELP. Also remember an Instagram photo might show a cute baby fast asleep but just out of shot there is probably someone who looks like this.

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With their kitchen bench looking like this:

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Having just cleaned up their 4th poo explosion for the morning, with sore boobs from cracked nipples. Things may not always be as they seem. You’re all doing the best you can and you’re doing a bloody marvellous job! You are!

5. No one stops nearly enough as they should

I am the BIGGEST culprit of this. Getting caught up with life and routines and wishing the time away so the baby sleeps more, or learns to go to the toilet themselves, or whatever. I think no one slows down enough. So take the time to stop and smell that newborn smell. Sit and marvel at the sleeping baby…those toes! You made them! Those little chicken legs. Wrap that baby up and screw the books that say put them down to sleep and resettle. Hold that baby. Breathe in the moment, the chaos, the mess, ALL of it. It is all over SO quickly. I promise. Somehow, before you know it you will have a 10 year old. BE in the moment. The newborn land. Just surrender and be in it and try to push all the anxiety or questions or self doubt out and just TRUST that you know what you are doing. Rest. Eat. Cuddle. And be. You’ve created and birthed an entire whole human, you deserve a break.

Bupa are doing some great work with new mums and families through their Parent and Baby Wellness program with programs like the one that Dawn went through: The Bupa Parent and Baby Wellbeing Program

I was lucky enough to meet Dawn recently at a Bupa event and hear her story about how she struggled during those first months of newborn land. She was lucky enough to get the help she needed through Bupa’s Parent and Baby Wellbeing Program. I love that parents like Dawn are so open about their experiences with parenthood. There seems to be such a stigma around postnatal depression…

I think it’s fabulous that there are programs like this for people to access. People to talk to, stories to share and connect with. For me, social media and my blog have played a huge role in my parenting. It’s given me friendships and connections with people from all over the country and the world who I have realised, are all in the same boat. Eating too much. Being scared. Exhausted. With a cabbage leaf in their bra.

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We’re all doing the best we can and I hope the more that people talk about this stuff, and share how they are feeling, the more we can be open and honest about motherhood and ALL that comes with that: the ups and downs. The cute instagram picture of the sleeping baby and the poo explosion soaking in the tub just out of shot.

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What are some things you know about newborn land?
Do you agree that you wished you had soaked in that newborn baby a little bit more?
Eat like a crazy person too?

Comments

  1. There is no such thing a NORMAL!!!
    You have never had a baby before. Listen to you gut and to your heart.
    Sleep when baby is sleeping. DO NOT WORRY ABOUT THE HOUSE WORK.
    If people offer to do something – say YES – please come do some washing, mop my floors, clean the shower, change the sheets, please deliver us a meal or please come sit with me, I need someone to talk to or to cry too.
    ASK for help you are NEVER ALONE, is newborn land, 5yr old land or 37yr old land

    Much Love zxoxox

  2. A banker and a finance guy have a baby in a busy London hospital and are pretty much left to their own devices the morning after the birth. Precious first born would not stop crying for anything so the nurse was called to see what the hell they were supposed to do with this rather grumpy child. The nurse trundles in picks up howling baby in one hand and asks – “Have you changed his nappy?”. Oh.

  3. Micaela C says

    A great read, thank you. It’s just what I needed. Due to have our first in 12 days and quietly FREAKING OUT. xx

    • Micaela…do NOT freak out! You’ve got this. And! There’s a beautiful BABY at the end of the day. A precious, whole person that you guys made. It’s a dead set miracle. Enjoy, go easy and slow down and enjoy. And sleep now…you’ll need it! xx

  4. From 52, talking to 21 year old me. Be gentle on yourself. Enjoy it. Enjoy him. Stop worrying – you’re doing fine.

    Lovely blog, Beth.

    • I love this Cheryl! So true. If only we could believe ourselves…we are all doing a GREAT job. He/she is fine. Thanks so much for these wise words x

  5. YES! A decade of nannying under my belt and I still had NO clue what to do with my newborn. I thought I was going to fail at this mothering thing, there were many tears from both of us.

    But it gets better and you learn each other. I felt that every day things got 5% easier and that was a pace that I could cope with. We are almost at the 3 month point and finally getting into the swing of things.

    Also to add, breast feeding is HARD AS SHIT. You’ve written about it before but for other mother’s to be, don’t give up. It can take weeks. You’re doing great!

    • How did I forget to mention that? It IS HARD AS SHIT. Oh my lord is it hard. But worth sticking with if you can. Congrats on almost making it to that magic 3 month mark…you are just starting to hit your straps by then I reckon…well done!!

  6. Katie Elliott says

    As a first time mum at the same time you had Maggie, I did have that “holy crap they are letting me take this baby home!?” moment. All the stuff you said totally hits home. But I learnt VERY early on that nobody knew my baby like I did and trusted my instincts to the point of disagreeing with the most supportive, wonderful midwife I had throughout my pregnancy. The first year is very tough but amazing and joy filled at the same time. That period of being a new mum is the most vulnerable time and I am so grateful for all the positive support I had. EVERYONE needs it and I really feel for people who don’t have caring friends and family. That is when public services should step in. I don’t know where I would be without the good friends I made in my mother’s group – through the local council. And following you Beth! At times it was like we were parallels. Mastitis, sleeplessness, mass consumption of baked goods. Ahhh the joys. And don’t forget that extreme thirst that comes with the extreme hunger and breastfeeding ?

    • The thirst yes! I forgot about that! Katie, sounds like you have done an amazing job! I’m like you – lucky to be surrounded by so much support and love. I can’t imagine how much different things would be if I hadn’t had that. Well done to us on making it through that first year! Deserves a baked good I’d say?! Thanks for sharing xx

  7. I still remember that absolutely glorious HUNGER after having a baby. Mine were born in South Africa where we have the most delicious dark brown sorghum porridge. I ate bowls and bowls of the stuff in hospital, smothered in brown sugar, and my husband brought me endless fruit smoothies from the hospital coffee shop. I don’t think that I have ever enjoyed food more.

  8. Oh my goodness, I ate so much. SO MUCH. And my first kid fed so much that I just sat and fed us both, me dropping toast crumbs on her tiny head. I was a total sitter, with both of them. I just sat on the couch (or rocking chair) for months after they were born. Did nothing else. But it still goes too quickly and the memories get lost in the heady brainless mists of time. Now if you could just stop making me clucky, that’d be greaaaaaaattttt

  9. Bahaha – my husband and I’s dinner conversation tonight consisted of who was the best at catching vomit in their hands as to not getting the vomit on the carpet.

  10. It’s great to be educated and read all those baby books before the baby actually arrives but just remember that the baby has NOT read the book, they most likely won’t even be on the same page as you! Don’t worry about what they’re meant to be doing, just focus on what they’re doing. And no googling at 2am. Dr Google never has good news at 2am

  11. I just wish I knew what I know with my third born with my first and my life would have been SO much happier, as would my first born’s first year 🙁

  12. Although as a fostermum I have never given birth so didn’t have to deal with the physical post birth stuff I remember vividly the day my first baby arrived. There had been quite a few short term little ones in our house aged between 3 months & 5 years staying from overnight to a few weeks when the call arrived to take an 11 day old baby for an undecided length of time (it ended up being 11 years !). As the driver arrived I went out to the driveway to see if I could help carry anything & was handed a tiny baby & a plastic carrier bag containing 2 little bottles of milk, a blue book & a size 2 t-shirt. Then the lady jumped back in her car said “enjoy” & drove away leaving me, rather dazed, in my driveway. I went inside & unwrapped the hospital blanket to find he was wearing a tiny hospital gown & a very soggy cloth nappy with no cover over it. I had, just a few days earlier, given all my newborn stuff to a friend that had twins so had nothing at all useful. So I did the only thing I could, I rang my mum. She made a quick trip to Coles & arrived with a tin of formula, a bag of disposable nappies, wipes & a pack of 2 babygrows. I had worked as a nanny for years, been a short term foster carer & even had sisters 13 & 15 years younger than me but it was still a huge thing. My only piece of parenting advice is …… no matter how organised or prepared you are nothing will ever truly prepare you so listen to your instincts & accept all offers of help ….. never be embarrassed to let someone wash your dishes or fold your washing. Most importantly try to soak up ever minute, they grow up much too fast, that tiny baby is an 18 year old young man now & even though he moved to live with a birth family member when he was 11 I still get a phone call to say happy mothers day mum 🙂

  13. Oh yes, the smell of a newborn. It’s the elixer of life. Fresh hope and promises. There’s nothing like it in all the world. My girls , 22 & 19, think I’m a crazy lady when I’m around a newborn but one day they’ll know what I’m talking about and they too will want to sniff up that glorious smell.
    A tip I tell everyone with a new baby is that the baby has no idea that you don’t know what you’re doing. No idea at all. Baffle them with bullshit. You’ve got this. They’re either wet, dirty, hungry, uncomfortable, tired or just wanting to be held. Or, if you’ve got mastitis, they’re a bit off colour too, and panadol is your best friend.
    And Mums need to share and be honest and ask for help and stop being so damn mean to other Mums.
    Who cares if you’re a single Mum or a Mum of 6 or if you’ve gone back to work or if you’re a stay at home who uses Childcare twice a week to keep yourself sane. Who cares.
    Be nice to one another. Bring back the sisterhood.
    It’s not a competition.

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