If you want to learn all about your newborn baby, and be able to respond to his/her needs appropriately – it is going to take a lot of your time – so that time you spend with your baby will be time you won’t be spending on other things – eg. a spotless-looking house. If you have friends who have children – they will understand, and if you have friends that don’t have children – they won’t understand. You will find your priorities will change – is a clean kitchen sink more important than a happy content little baby – a baby who knows he/she can rely on Mum to attend to his every need. NEVER UNDERESTIMATE what an important job you are doing. If all babies were constantly reassured, and loved and attended to, do you think there would be so many screwed-up maniacs going around hurting other people. These early weeks and months are the most crucial times of your baby’s life – and you and your partner, are the most important people your baby wants – not some expert nurse like me who can change your baby’s nappy in 30 seconds flat – your baby wants YOU, your baby would rather have you awkwardly struggling to clean his/her bottom and change the nappy – taking ten times longer. Your baby will cry whether the expert does it, or whether the amateur Mum or Dad does it – babies are just not very polite – they can make a lot of noise because they have very little understanding of life when they have newly arrived here! – that’s a fact of life – just get used to it and don’t let your baby’s crying frighten you – as time goes by you’ll learn to understand what your newborn baby is saying like “hurry-up I want to have a suck of that beautiful warm stuff”.
Enjoy learning how to respond to your baby – don’t expect to do everything perfectly – even if you’ve read all the books on what to do – your baby hasn’t and no baby is a text-book case.
Include your partner in this learning process – Dads are often far more nervous and awkward than new Mums, but the baby really would still prefer his own Mum and Dad doing the care, rather than some unknown carer – and besides – it’s only practice that makes perfect.
Also, and this is perhaps another lesson that a new Mum needs to learn – you can’t do everything all by yourself – no matter how independent you have been all your life – you need help from other people – so be willing to accept offers of help. Who better to help you than the Father of your newborn baby – given the opportunity and encouragement (not criticism) the majority of first time Dads would love to form a loving relationship with their child. Their involvement with your baby will impact on your baby’s life – either through their participation or lack of participation – both will have a result. Encourage the Dad to overcome his uncertainties – Dads can help with diaper changes, “winding or burping”, settling your baby, bathing and massage are great ways for Dad to get to know his baby etc etc – the only thing a new Dad can’t do is an actual breast feed. If you are able to express some extra milk, there may be a time when you appreciate that your Partner could feed that to your baby when you go out to an appointment for example. You’ll find that everything takes an awful long time if you can’t make a move without your baby in your arms.
Every Mother wants the best for her newborn baby and what could be better than two eager parents doing their best, even if it is not in the slickest fashion – at participating in their care?