Congratulations! You have a new baby on the way! How exciting! You are probably also thinking “How on Earth am I supposed to do this?” Right?
Well, here’s the thing, there are many, many women who have done this before, so you can too!
We’ve put together a list of a few tips which MIGHT help – before your baby arrives, during labour and for those first few weeks. Remember, what works for someone else may not work for you. So DO YOU!
Before Baby Arrives
- Ensure that your toddler is part of the excitement of your pregnancy – but don’t tell them too early. 9 months is an incredibly long time for them, and they may even start to think that the baby is never coming. But do get them involved when you start to show or feel baby move – and speak about the baby often. Showing them photos of themselves as a baby may help this too.
- Start planning for the labour and ensure that your toddler is comfortable with the people who will be assisting with their childcare. The last thing you need is worrying about your toddler when you head out the door.
- If they are already in a nursery or other childcare setting, try to retain their routine and keep them there for at the least the first few weeks after baby comes home.
- Encourage the toddler’s independence. Ensure that they can do as much as possible for themselves, and are also ready to help you when the baby arrives. Ask them to pass you those hard-to-reach things you drop on the floor! Praise them for how helpful they are! When the baby arrives they’ll be happy to bring you the muslin, or dummy, or a snack for themselves.
- Stick to your toddlers routine – in a changing environment, the stability they have in their own routine will provide them with much needed comfort.
- Cook as much as you can – for yourself and partner, as well as for your toddler. Anything that can be frozen in appropriate portion sizes will definitely help when baby arrives.
- Prepare many little Busy Bags for your toddler. This will really come in handy when you are needing to feed / change the baby, and work a treat to distract your toddler when you’re out and about too. Change up the contents too!
- Create a toddler area which is safe for them to entertain themselves for a little while – activities which they can distract them in times of free play.
- Most importantly: Treasure the time you have with your toddler – as soon as you bring that baby home, that toddler isn’t your baby anymore, and they will feel even more grown up than before.
Labour and bringing baby home:
- Take a bit of extra time at the hospital while you can. Your toddler is fine with their childcare at that point, so take a few extra hours to rest with only your baby.
- Buy a present for your toddler from the baby. They’ll love the surprise. Coupled with this, if you receive many gifts for the baby – get your toddler involved in opening the exciting ones, or only open the others when your toddler isn’t around.
First few weeks:
- Eat well and rest – it’s got to be about you. If you are eating well, drinking enough water and getting enough rest, you are more likely to take the little problems in your stride.
- Be careful when lifting toddler while you are recovering. They are much heavier than you think and especially for your pelvic floor or C-Section wound – be sure to not over do it with your toddler.
- Reject any and all unwanted visitors! There is plenty of time for them to have their baby cuddles when you’re in the swing of things. Do not feel guilty for protecting yourself from overwhelm.
- Forget about a routine for the baby – focus on your toddler’s routine and give them as much time as possible. Your baby will soon fit into the way things work, and will inevitably be more patient than your toddler.
- Shop online! Don’t be pressured into having to go to the shops for items. Order online and save yourself the headache!
- Lower your standards – no one cares when last you polished the wooden trinkets on the shelf. Spray some furniture polish around when people come over, or ask your toddler to help clean, and who cares if it’s perfect. If you can, try book a cleaner in. Even a once off decent clean will bring you some peace.
- Wear your baby. There are some amazing slings on the market. Baby will love being in a sling and being close to you, and you’ll have both arms free to manage your active toddler too.
- It often helps to wake up in the morning before your toddler wakes – just to have that shower without one of the interruptions!
- As soon as you can try get out the house once a day for a little walk. It doesn’t have to be much, but it’s amazing what some fresh air does for your brain, and the baby and your toddler will feel the relaxed vibe.
- Keep a log of your baby’s feeds, changes and naps. It’s surprisingly easy to forget these things when your toddler is begging for another round of catch…
- Plan what you can: Time with your partner – book that time out, or the lie in for yourself. Book a morning where he takes the toddler out for some special time for them. Plan some duties for him to do, even if he washes the darks with the whites…
- Sing. Sing to the baby, sing to your toddler, sing to yourself. It’s amazing how singing (no matter how awful!) can reduce your stress levels. It takes the pressure off, and your toddler is likely to be a bit more amenable after singing some of their songs too! Add some humour to your days.
- Co-ordinate naps when possible, and when it happens, no matter how rarely – SLEEP! No excuses, no supermum-mode, no guilt. Sleep when they are both asleep! Post Natal Depression rears it’s ugly head at any sign of sleep deprivation. So SLEEP!
- Bath time logistics: Feed baby first, then bath with toddler, then feed the other side while toddler plays. Or feed baby while toddler plays in the bath, get toddler out, then feed baby while reading stories. Or feed baby and settle to sleep, then do bath time as special time with your toddler. Ultimately – do what works for you. If changing bath time to the morning suits you best – DO IT!
A few final tips:
- Stop telling yourself it’s so hard. It’s a phase, it will end, and when it ends you’ll miss it.
- Chill out – you’ve got this. You’ve done it all before, now just do it again. As long as you’re all alive, with a little song and a cuddle here and there, you’re doing well.
- Don’t compare yourself to anyone else. No matter when your friend’s baby starts sleeping through, don’t compare yourself to them. Do what’s best for your family. What works for someone else may not work for you, and that’s perfectly fine.
- Know when to ask for help. Lean on experts. Don’t try to do it all yourself. There are friends, family, and experts who are available throughout to assist you. Doula’s, Lactation Consultants, Midwives, Health Visitors, Maternity Nurses, Sleep Trainers, Psychologists, Physiotherapists, Night Nannies, Babysitters, GP’s, and so many more. ASK for help when you need it. You’ll be stronger for it.
Enjoy this incredibly special time, it’s a time you’ll never forget.