Being a midwife, I always want to ensure expectant couples are informed as much as possible whilst also helping them to navigate and debunk the "horror stories" and unsolicited advice from the expert parents (you know the ones).
So, I asked new parents to tell me what was the most valuable piece of advice they had been given and if there was anything they wish they had been told.
Here are my top 10:
1. It's okay to ask for help and say you're struggling.
You might be surprised by how easy your transition to parenthood has been or you might feel overwhelmed by how much you had underestimated it. You might go between the two 97235975 times a day. There is no "right" way to feel. If you do feel you are struggling, it's okay to ask for help. It's okay not to enjoy every single moment too. You'll be surprised by how relieved you feel when get it out in the open and how the simplest of help can make a world of difference.
2. Everything is a phase.
When it's tough, remember it's only just a stage and it will pass eventually.
3. Relax a bit, don't worry about the housework!
It's going to take time to find a rhythm and what works for you. You'll be surprised about how much time such a little person can take up! Adjusting your expectations may come as a challenge if you've previously always had an immaculate house. Just take it a day at a time. You can only do what you can do.
4. Have the first week as just your small family with no visitors. You'll never get that time again.
You don't need to have everyone come to see you in hospital or those early days just to "get it out the way". You want helpful visitors that want to see YOU and your baby. You want visitors who are coming over to make YOU tea, not expecting you to play hostess to them. You have just brought life into this world, you bloody well deserve it!
5. You're going to feel protective and anxious about other people holding your baby. It's normal.
This is something I hear often and many new parents can be surprised by this feeling. It's our primal instincts. Consciously we know that it's our friends, family, in-laws and of course they care for our baby so will not cause them harm. However, our subconscious instincts kick in and asks us how do we know baby is safe if they're not with you? You're not overreacting or crazy. It's normal.
6. The sleepless nights will pass, take in the moment because they grow up so quickly!
"Sleep when baby sleeps" is probably the worst advice you'll be given. If only it was that easy, eh? Being reminded to "enjoy every moment" when you're sleep deprived isn't the most helpful. But try to remind yourself - this is not forever (as much as it might feel that way)!
7. Enjoy it. Make your own traditions!
Don't feel guilted into existing "traditions". If it doesn't feel right you - make your own!
8. You know what's best for your baby, don't listen to how it "should be done" from others.
As mentioned above, unsolicited advice around parenting unfortunately isn't far and few between... Whether it's close family members and friends, or strangers who spot your bump or pram in the street, they will always try to tell you how "should" or "must" be done. Most of the time, this can be extremely unhelpful, strange or sometimes downright rude! If it is a close family member or friend, don't be afraid to let them know if you find their constant "advice" overwhelming or unhelpful. It's your baby and your parenting journey - you know what feels best.
9. Don't be afraid to put boundaries in place, especially with closer family members.
If something or someone is making you uncomfortable, you'll feel so relieved when it's out in the open rather than boiling up.
10. Do what your gut tells you and trust your instincts.
If something doesn't feel right to you, explore it. Parental instincts are so so valuable!
Thank you for reading!
I could've kept this blog going for a lot more than 10, but these were my favourites! If you've got any you'd like to share, please do so in the comments below!
Postnatal support is a true passion of mine which was what prompted me to offering Postnatal Home Support. If you're local to Glasgow and would like to know more, get in touch. If you're further afield, I'm often willing to travel so you're welcome to get in touch to see if I cover your area.