Babies are incredibly tiny, yet incredibly complex little beings. Those first early days are extremely intense for any new parent, the overwhelming feeling of responsibility, coupled with caring for your recovering body and all of the usual little things that make up our daily lives, it can be, quite frankly, scary.
You may have spent the months/years building up to this moment, focusing on trying to get pregnant, then focusing on being pregnant. Doing all of the classes, buying all of the things. Maybe you've attended some beautiful hypnobirthing or pregnancy yoga classes, your down breathing is astounding! Maybe you've had a gorgeous baby shower. Perhaps you've decorated a super cute nursery, and washed and organised what feels like hundreds of tiny baby grows over and over again. Your hospital bag is packed after you've scoured the internet for the 'hospital bag essentials'. You're ready. You're excited.
Now you're home, you may or may not have spent a bit of time in hospital post birth. You may or may not have had midwives and specialists and maternity assistants on hand to answer any questions you may have. but you're home now. You're home and you have this tiny, precious being who is reliant on you to meet there every single need, and boy are you exhausted, I won't sugar coat it, you will be fuckin exhausted.
You set about getting into that gorgeous routine you've envisioned, a sleepy baby, maternity leave lunches, night time routines, Instagram worthy photos. But hold on a minute, your baby isn't complying! It can feel like your baby isn't following the same pattern as the books may have told you they would, or what the heath visitor said. You may worry about spoiling them or 'creating a rod for your own back'. But let me tell you a secret, babies don't give a monkeys what the books say. They are primal beings, their instincts, impulses and reflexes are in control and that transition into the 4th Trimester is all about survival.
Let me tell you 3 things nobody tells you about babies (but that are totally normal)
1) They will want to feed constantly
Human milk has a lower fat percentage than other species and they also have teeny tiny tummies. So our babies need to be fed often to grow. Babies that are fed human milk will need to fed on demand and sometimes that can feel continuous. Some people worry that they are overfeeding their baby, or may have been told they should only be every 3/4 hours or similar. But you cannot over feed a breast (or chest) fed baby. Formula feeding can also be done on an 'on demand' basis and responsive bottle feeding is slowly starting to become more recognised, allowing the baby to only drink what they would like to during each offering, which may look like them having tiny amounts of milk over a longer period of time. For example instead of drinking x amount of milk every 3 hours, they may drink the same amount of milk across 3 hours. They will eventually find their own feeding schedule and will go longer between each feed. You can read about responsive bottle feeding here
2) They aren't supposed to sleep through the night
The 4th trimester is all about adapting and survival for new-born's and eating (i.e. having milk) frequently is how they do this, day and night. Babies have sleep cycles of approximately 40 minutes and being able to link them up is something that will happed when they are developmentally ready and is not something that can be taught. But babies, especially new-born's, that wake frequently for feeds are doing exactly what they are supposed to do and is not influenced by anything you are doing as a parent. They are also born without as circadian rhythm, meaning they have no sense of day and night. Sleep deprivation is very real and extremely challenging for new parents, so treat yourself with compassion and reach out to those around you. You can read more about this on the Lullaby Trust website .
3) They won't want to be put down
Humans have been birthing babies for millennia, and whilst the world has changed exponentially since then, babies are not aware of this. They are not aware that when you lovingly place them down into their very expensive and beautifully crafted Moses basket they are safe. As far as they are concerned they have been left to the wolves. Think back to when we were cave people, a baby that was put down would be exposed to the elements and the wild animals that roamed freely around. In order to survive the babies would cry to tell their parent to pick them up, eventually, if the crying didn't work, they would stop crying to ensure they didn't give away their location. This did not mean they had 'self soothed'. It meant they were in survival mode, with heightened senses, hyper aware of any approaching animals that may be on the prowl. So how did early humans manage this constant holding when they needed to hunt and gather food? THEY CREATED SLINGS. Once we had developed cutting tools, we fashioned baby carriers from animal skins and tied our babies onto us, ensuring BOTH of our survivals. So now you know WHY your baby won't be put down, you can stop worrying about spoiling them, and if you need your hands for hunting and gathering cake for the cupboard, why not book a consultation to find your perfect sling.
So those are the 3 most important (in my humble opinion) things that I think every new mother/father/parent needs to hear. Becoming a parent is the most magical, yet mind boggling experience we go through as humans. There seems to be quick fixes everywhere we turn, but sometimes we just want somebody to tell us it's OK, keep going.
So I see you.
I see you, and hear you, and feel you. You are doing an incredible job, you are the perfect parent to your child. You are enough.
Lots of Love,
Stella | MotherRucker