The newborn routine: the best advice for new parents

A friend of mine is expecting twins! Well, his partner is but they are both thrilled and also, expecting them on Christmas! How exciting!

We talked a little while ago about advice regarding routine and while I did write a blog post for him about it, it didn’t really turn out as I’d planned. It was more of a ‘day in the life’ kind of run down with my kids as they are now, both well past the newborn phase. So, I thought, not actually all that helpful for them, really.

Then I was writing a post for Meet Other Mums as a part of their #blogsquad, which also just so happened to get away from me. It morphed into something I was proud of but wasn’t expecting, and all of a sudden I knew what I had to write for my friend!

newborn, routine

Want it? Okay, here it is:

Write off the first six weeks. Seriously. Just write it off. It’s gone, non-existent, completely unplannable. Nope. Just let it go. Trust me.

It will be okay, I promise.

The first six weeks with a newborn are a blur of exhaustion, poo, vomit, pain and more exhaustion (and more poo).

Ideally the entire first 12 weeks should be regarded the same way but unfortunately, Paternal leave is shockingly inadequate. Most dads are lucky to be able to afford two weeks off!

Mums need at least 12 weeks to heal from the initial trauma. The math just doesn’t add up, does it? (did you know it can take an entire year for a woman’s body to completely heal from all the effects of pregnancy and labour?)

We had to book two weeks of holiday with one week of paternity in order to be able to afford Husband having three weeks off. It wasn’t fair to either of us, but we made do. My friend will only likely get a few weeks himself and his poor partner is going to be having the twins via C-section.

I just want to make it clear I believe a C-section is not the easy way out. It is having your abdominal muscles sliced open, your internal organs removed, babies removed, organs replaced and every layer that was cut re-stitched.

You use your abdominal muscles for everything, even just sitting still. It is a major and dangerous surgery that requires bed rest to recover. How many mums actually get the bedrest they need to heal properly and quickly? A sadly tiny percentage, I’m afraid.

I just wanted to emphasise that point. I had two vaginal births that were horrifying agony, traumatising even. I never, ever want to feel that pain again; two babies are fine, thank you. Recovery is hard, long and uncomfortable.

But I know that even with this knowledge, If I accidentally fell pregnant again and was offered or advised a C-section, I’d refuse with every fibre of my being.

Whoops, I’ve probably just scared that poor friend to death. Um. Back on track?

Advice. The most important advice, as I said.

Let it go.

Do not have any expectations for your first six weeks, minimum. I don’t just mean plans to go out or visit people or have people come round. I’m talking diet, hygiene, productivity.

tea, cup, bed
Goodbye, hot cup of tea! Until we meet again in several years!

It is okay to live off of pot noodles and take away the first few weeks. It is okay to wake up one morning and realise you haven’t showered for two weeks. It is okay to look at the dirt collecting in the corners of the room and realise you can’t remember the last time you hovered.

Yes, a new dad’s job is to try to help stay on top of the housework, cooking and so on. Yes, you are expected to do this even though you are running on just as little sleep as your partner (in most cases). You are expected to take up this mantle because your partner has pushed (or had pulled) a tiny human from her body.

Her body is bruised, battered and exhausted. Her hormones are going insane trying to adjust to not having a person to grow anymore, but probably still to feed. (engorged boobs are not sexy by the way, they are painful and leaky.)

She will need you now, probably more than ever before or ever again in your lives. Do the dishes, change the nappies in the middle of the night. When you have to go back to work (not that you want to) she will still be hurting and exhausted and learning, one day at a time, but now she will be alone for likely 40+ hours a week.

If you have family close by, do not be afraid to ask for help. Do not be afraid to ask favours of everyone and anyone. People told you ‘just ask if you need anything!’ beforehand? Great, ask. Ask them to pop round and keep her company. Ask them to pick up some milk and bread so that she doesn’t have to. (Just be sure she will see this as helpful and not patronising, remember the hormones!)

Don’t put any expectations on yourselves for those first few weeks.

They will only serve to make you feel stressed and like failures if you have to cancel for any reason. If you do happen to manage going out, visiting family, lunch with friends etc, it will feel like a huge victory and will boost your confidence as new parents.

I’m not saying the newborn weeks are Hell. I’m not saying it will be terrible, with nothing getting done, everyone being miserable and so on. Those first few weeks are also amazing.

That little person (or persons) will be here! You will get to marvel over their teeny tiny hands and feet. You will lovingly stroke their cheeks and beam with pride every time someone coos over how cute they are.

You will strut like a peacock the first time you take them out in their buggy. You will realise you love your other half in ways you never could have expected for being stronger than you ever could have imagined.

parents, baby, shoes

Your entire world is different now, it will never be the same again. That is okay.

Just know that it is okay if it isn’t sunshine and roses all the time. It is okay not to be on top of everything and it is okay to need or want a little help. It will be okay. Just take the time you need to find your feet. I promise no one is judging or testing you but yourself.

You will find your balance, one step at a time, just don’t rush it. Take these first few weeks to learn how to be a family now, not just a partnership, it is worth it. I promise.

stayclassymama

Hot Pink Wellingtons
DomesticatedMomster

19 thoughts on “The newborn routine: the best advice for new parents”

  1. I would add in that visitors can sod off. We had people coming to stay and ended up running ourselves ragged making them cups of tea while they held our baby! Wtf? No. Sure people can come over, IF that’s what you want. But they’re making their own damn tea. And they’re staying maybe an hour at most, especially if they have no plans to bring you a meal or wash up or iron for you. This is time for YOU to bond with your baby and nobody else. Another thing I’d like to add is to not leave them to cry. They cry to express a need, so pick them up and find out what that need is. It mightbe that they’re hungry, or wet, or have pooed. Maybe they scratched themselves with those ridiculous sharp nails. But they also just might want a cuddle. They love skin to skin, with mum AND dad. It’s also the quickest way to get their temperature down if they’re poorly, because your body will suck the heat right out of them but keep them comfortable too. Leaving a baby to cry is considered a risk factor for SIDS- if nobody comes when a baby cries because they’re hungry/tired/soiled then they learn not to cry… including when something’s over their face and they can’t breathe. Scratch mitts are useless. Get sleepsuits with fold over cuffs or use baby socks. And- last one I promise- when people ask if they’re a good baby? (my mother in law always does this!) Answer yes- a good baby cries when they have a need, letting you know if they’re hungry or need changing. They aren’t designed to be sleeping through the night when they’re small. A good baby tells you what they need and when they need it. And that’s all that matters.

  2. I love this post, such great advice. I found the first few weeks really tough – still healing from what was a pretty straightforward birth really, and getting to grips with everything in a haze of sleep deprivation. While at the same time having to balance the wishes of various overbearing and competitive grandparents all beating down the door to visit. But you’re right, although my memories of it are of a really tough time, my overriding memory is of so many overwhelmingly happy moments – it’s a real rollercoaster. Thanks so much for joining us again at #SharingtheBlogLove
    Katy – Hot Pink Wellingtons recently posted…Embracing being a ‘Mummy Blogger’My Profile

  3. Brilliant advice. Those first few weeks are a complete haze especially the first time around. I found it less so the second time because I had to get my act together to look after my two year old. What is the same is that both times the love for my girls was so strong it saw me through some tough days. Thank you for joining us at #SharingtheBlogLove x
    Laura – dear bear and beany recently posted…Review: Toddlebike2…Plus A Giveaway!My Profile

    1. Thank you! Yes, I quite agree the second time is so different because you already have a little person to care for waiting for you! x

  4. Yes, I agree – the first 6 weeks are just going to be a blur. It’s not all bad and certainly not all good. It just is. It’s okay, it will get better. Just, please, if you are visiting someone with a newborn, do not let them get you any food or beverages. It doesn’t matter if you are in their house. It doesn’t matter if it is social convention. The person who did not just have a baby should be in charge of all food and drinks. #momsterslink

  5. Fantastic post, it’s true, those first six weeks are all about finding your feet one day at a time. Csection is most definitely not an easy option, I’ve had two and during the second I had already begun rupturing from the first and the spinal didn’t work properly! (If your friends wife is reading this, don’t worry, what happened to me is extremely rare and my first csection went without a hitch, it’s also amazing what your body can cope with when you are that high on adrenaline and really want to meet your babies, I remember the panic, but not the pain). My husband also had to go back to Sea (he’s in the merchant navy) two weeks after my second was born and was gone 10 weeks, so I definetly didn’t get the recovery time needed. That being said, I coped. We all do. What might seem impossible at the time passes in the flash of an eye and you end up looking back in nostalgia, wishing you’d paid more attention. Enjoy those first weeks and don’t worry about routine, it will all fall into place x
    #Momsterslink
    Alana – Burnished Chaos recently posted…Words To Live By #6: Do Not JudgeMy Profile

  6. I still wonder how I ever managed 3 babies in 25 months all via c-section with a husband working out of town and no family nearby to help with anything. And yep there were several days that would go by before sometimes I would get a chance to take a real shower. But I survived, they survived, the house survived and thank goodness for cameras to record all the moments that were a blur. Thanks for linking up with #momsterslink :))
    Trista, Domesticated Momster recently posted…Momsterslink ~ November 10, 2016My Profile

  7. I had visitors coming in from the hospital…there were times i felt like running away…I personally believe the first few days the mother and baby should be left to bond and heal. If theres someone coming to helo very good. Thst is allowed. Otherwise those other guests that come and stay almost a whole day story telling need to know you need a rest before the baby decides no sleeping from 8pm to 4am..

    1. Oh I know! With my first I had a ton of visitors before we left the hospital, it was overwhelming. I had to set strict rules that no one could visit before he was a week old with number 2, I knew I needed the space! x

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