Welcome to this month’s expert residency blog written by an NHS Senior Midwife and Hypnobirthing Teacher at The Positive Birth Company, Hannah O’Sullivan.
The Positive Birth Company is empowering Women and Birthing People through Postpartum, Hypnobirthing and Trying To Conceive (TTC). In this blog, we are lucky to have spoken to Hannah who is going to share her Top 5 Tips for New Parents.
Hannah offers private 1:1 Hypnobirthing Coaching through The Positive Birth Company and has a weekly “Ask The Midwife” spotlight on The Positive Birth Company’s Instagram page.
Now to hear Hannah’s 5 Top Tips for New Parents.
Top 5 Tips for New Parents with Hannah O’Sullivan, Midwife & The Positive Birth Company Hypnobirthing Guru
Every time a baby is born, so is a mother. I believe this to be true whether you have had your first baby or your sixth. Each birth, each woman or birthing person, each experience brings new challenges and gives rise to new feelings.
As a midwife, mother of 2 and hypnobirthing instructor, these are my top tips for new parents.
Know What Normal Looks Like
Social media - how we love you! But, be mindful of who you follow in your early days with a new baby.
Sitting in your PJs at 3 pm, surrounded by muslin squares, half-drunk cups of tea and empty biscuit packets, with a baby firmly asleep on your chest. Why? Because they simply refuse to stay asleep when you put them in their cot. That is the reality of life with a new baby for most families. We are ‘Carry Mammals’. It is the biological norm for our babies to feed often and to need close contact to feel safe enough to sleep soundly, and wake frequently.
Understanding what newborn behaviour is usually like can be a lifesaver. Yes, it is hard to hold a baby for hours on end and it’s hard if your baby wakes frequently to feed. But it is harder if you are fighting against nature.
Harder still, if you feel anxious that this behaviour means something is wrong, “I’m not doing it right”, search your social media platforms for fourth-trimester information. Information from International Board Certified Lactation Consultants, Midwives and other supporters of normal baby behaviour can be helpful.
Seeing other new families living with a similar experience to you can be affirming and will give you the energy and confidence to keep following your baby’s cues. Babies are instinctive beings - we can learn a lot from them!
The Positive Birth Company offers a 7-video workshop Postpartum Pack created by experts who will give you information and practical techniques to help you navigate the first days and weeks with a newborn - it’s a great place to start learning what normal looks like!
Pull Up The Drawbridge!
My favourite piece of advice for taking a newborn baby home? A week in bed and a week on the sofa.
Keep visitors to a minimum. Yes, everybody is desperate to meet your baby, but if their visit means you feel you need to clear up, get dressed and leave the room to feed your baby then they need to wait a few days.
Adjusting to life with and recovering from birth takes time, especially if you have stitches that are sore, or you are learning to breastfeed (and yes, it is a learned skill, not an innate ability you are born with!)
The Positive Birth Company refers to birth partners as ‘Keepers of The Cave’, and that doesn’t stop now. If you need to put off a visitor, let your partner communicate that for you. Before a visit, ask your partner to contact your visitor and let them know anything that would help them to help you. Ideally, visitors should bring something and do something!
Anyone who loves you will understand and respect your need to enjoy your newborn bubble.
Give yourself a break!
For many of us, especially the first time around, we have ideas about the kind of parent we will be. Maybe we have been very driven professionally, and look to apply the same drive to parenting.
We sign up for baby music groups, baby sensory groups and promise to meet friends for coffee. Then your baby doesn’t sleep and nap time happens when you are supposed to be leaving the house. Newborn babies do not care about your schedule!
When was the last time you didn’t sleep? Trying to carry on and meet commitments on no sleep is horrendous. Adrenaline and cortisol will carry you some of the way, but it doesn’t feel good.
Cancelling plans, admitting that we can’t do it all - sometimes that feels like admitting defeat, like such a step away from who we were before we had babies. But I am here to tell you that resting is revolutionary! And I don’t just mean for yourself, but for mothers and parents everywhere!
Being able to say ‘this is too much’ is courageous, brave and we owe it to our children to say ‘enough is enough’ to the myth that mothers can do it all, without there being an emotional and physical toll. Sometimes it is all too much, and sitting on the sofa with your warm snuggly baby is IMPORTANT WORK.
Ask For Help
Have you got a toddler tearing around the house all day? Ask friends and family to take them to the park. Exhausted and feeding all the time, and stressed by the mess? When visitors ask ‘what can I do?’ Don’t hand them your baby and then go and wash up, ask them if they would mind loading the dishwasher while you feed your baby and rest for a moment.
These people love you and they want to help. So let them! If you can afford to invest in a postnatal doula, or a cleaner, or anyone who can offer a few hours of support with cooking, cleaning, caring for your baby while you nap, DO IT!
Having help is not a luxury - it is a necessity. Caring for young children has always been a pack activity as humans are not solitary beings. At The Positive Birth Company, we know it takes a village and our Village Hub has lots of free resources to help you throughout this journey.
Remember: Your Baby Thinks You Are Perfect
There will be hard days. Caring for a newborn is hard. Parenting is hard. Adulting is hard!
It is so easy to have a negative internal monologue. That voice can be really loud on days where sleep is scarce and you have given in to things you never wanted to do.
Using positive affirmations is a wonderful way to quieten that inner critic and to help you remember that your baby thinks you are perfect.
At The Positive Birth Company, we produced our ‘Words for Mothers’ cards in collaboration with our community. By asking them for affirmations and phrases that they wished they had heard in the first days and weeks with a newborn. You can display these around your home, where they will settle into your subconscious and be incredibly reassuring. Any of you who have done our Hypnobirthing Course will know the power of affirmations.
You can “Ask the Midwife” anything on The Positive Birth Company’s Instagram, Live every Wednesday lunchtime and Hannah offers private 1:1 Hypnobirthing Coaching. You can contact her through The Positive Birth Company.
Related Blog: Expecting in 2021? Top Tips for New Parents
Blog Header Image from @thepositivebirthcompany