Every website you read has a list of what you need before you have a baby. I remember buying them all, and using perhaps 20% of them... Babies don't really need all that much, however there are 3 things that are really important to have in place before you have a baby. Much more important than a cot or a jolly jumper (neither of which we ever used!)
1. A support network to keep you sane
Life is so much better when you have a great support network set up before you have your baby. It is a lot harder to connect with people after having a baby because all of a sudden you’re multitasking caring for your baby, judging whether other mums are doing what you’re doing, wondering if other mums are judging you and more. It is a lot more comfortable when you have initiated friendships with other like minded women before having a baby.
Some great places to go are the Australian Breastfeeding Association - when you join not only do you get a great book on how to breastfeed, but you also get access to the ABA Mothers Groups which are full of lovely like minded women. Y
You can also actively meet people through your pregnancy by doing ante-natal classes or pregnancy yoga or some other pregnancy group classes to meet like minded parents-to-be who are due at around the same time. Don’t be afraid to ask other people out for coffee or dinner – chances are, they’d love to meet some other soon-to-be mums too!
Practical support is invaluable too. When you’re hinting at baby shower gifts, make sure you ask for useful presents, such as meals, getting your housework done or coming over to do laundry so you can focus on your baby and recovering from birth. Other gift ideas include hiring a lactation consultant or mothers helper, or even a cleaner for more support at home. Don't forget to join the Milk and Love Mums Facebook Group for online support too.
2. An Open Mind to change
For many women these days, birth is one of the first major events in their life that they cannot completely plan and control. While it is essential to do your research and be informed about your choices and how your body works, to a certain extent you also need to surrender to the unknown and trust your body and your baby.
You can spend a lot of time and energy worrying over what will happen, or what has happened or what could have happened, but all that matters is what IS happening, right now. If you are set on a particular type of birth, be open to other outcomes, and plan for them. If you’re determined to only breastfeed exclusively, be open to the possibility that it may not just happen easily, and make sure you have the resources and support you need if you have a rocky start. If you have images of motherhood being amazing, glowing and contented perhaps keep an open mind if things don’t start out that way.
It’s ok and it’s normal for this to be harder, or easier, than you imagined. It’s a good idea to ask for help from your support network, your GP, your child health nurse, your lactation consultant, or to call a helpline. It’s ok, and it’s normal. Even if you think all the other mums have it sorted, chances are they don't!
3. A Sense of Perspective
Even though it feels as though your baby will never sleep, breastfeeding is a disaster, or your house is a bombshell, rest assured. This too shall pass (even though it feels like you’re stuck in a Groundhog Day movie!).
One of the reasons people find the second or third babies easier is because they’ve realised that everything is just a stage, and most of the time it will pass all too quickly. They’ve gained perspective and let go of the stress of how many hours their baby is sleeping, what developmental milestone they should be hitting or how much laundry is piling up, because they know it doesn’t last, and before you know it, your baby is going to kindy, to school, sleeping in their own bed and peeing in the toilet (hopefully not in that order). In fact, biologically speaking, there is evidence to suggest humans are programmed to sleep in two segments, with a waking period in the middle of the night!
So, do what you need to do to function and enjoy those fleeting baby years. Sleep close to your baby to minimise your night waking, buy a baby carrier to satisfy your baby’s need to be held close while still having your hands free, and sleep when you can. Everything else can wait, and trust me, your baby will still thrive, and progress on their own developmental path with or without you even knowing about it.
All you need to do is relax, trust your instincts, trust your baby, and enjoy those precious early days.
About the Author
Corryn started Milk and Love after experiencing the joys and lows that comes with Motherhood and being unable to find stylish breastfeeding tops and nursing dresses that felt fabulous to wear! She sends weekly newsletters to the Milk and Love Community with articles like this plus the latest arrivals and sale updates. Click below to join the community: