Of all the things that people warned me of when I first announced I was pregnant, very few of them ended up breaking into the top ten of things I should have been prepared for. They mentioned sleepless nights, dirty nappies and sore breasts but these were to be expected with a newborn in the house.
No, the real surprise came when I wanted to leave the house. I had been working since I was 17; catching a train or driving myself to work every morning at 7.30am, popping into a shop to grab the groceries on the way home and maybe a latte and then sitting down for a quiet evening of telly and snacks.
The week we bought baby home I decided to pop to the shops for some milk and that was the moment I realised my life had changed, if not forever, certainly for the foreseeable future. There would be no more ‘popping out’, no more quiet lattes and definitely no more peaceful evenings in front of the telly.
Forewarned is forearmed. Understanding how life will change and preparing for the unexpected, are great ways to get ready physically and mentally for the life changing effect of a new baby.
Having two babies in succession meant getting from one place to the next became a spectacle bigger than Ben Hur. Thankfully, the investment in an adaptable and versatile twin pram saved my sanity. Being able to interchange the seats with a carry cot as well as having the ability to snap in a car capsule were brilliant.
The advent of online supermarket shopping has meant the drama of juggling shopping trolleys, bags and babies is over. These days I simply order everything online and it arrives neatly packed, leaving me stress-free. It also avoids impulse buying or grabbing unhealthy snacks so its better for all our waistlines as well.
Ideally the first few months will be a time of transition and getting to know your job as a parent. Scheduling unnecessary appointments or outings can place unnecessary stress on you. Give yourself space and time to enjoy this short period of time in your lives.
Eating well can make a huge difference to your energy levels, strength and milk supply along with your mental outlook. It can be difficult to maintain healthy eating with a small baby but making and packing up salads in plastic tubs can mean you always have good food on hand.
Avoid the temptation of reaching for the sweets when you are feeling low on energy. A ‘sugar crash’ is the last thing you need when you feel that you are running on empty.
Parenting can be a very isolating experience. For those used to working and interacting with other adults on a daily basis, the isolation resulting from caring for a newborn can be jarring. Once you have a routine established, reach out to other parents in the community to share ideas, anecdotes and social stimulation.
Delegation and support
It is a rare grandmother who isn’t eager to contribute practical advice and assistance with a newborn. If you are fortunate enough to have a grandmother living in close proximity, reach out to her and share some of the load.
Many women don’t trust their husbands to look after a baby correctly and are shortchanging a relationship which, while different to the mother/baby bond, can be just as rewarding for both parties.
Preparing for a baby’s arrival by organising the right equipment, support structures and mindset can mean by the time baby comes you are ready for any eventuality.
Becoming a new parent can and should be one of the most exciting times of your life but unfortunately for many parents this is not the case. If you feel you are becoming overwhelmed, organisations like Beyond Blue can offer support, advice and coping strategies to get you back on track.