Leaving hospital to return home with a new baby can be frightening for all parents, especially first-timers. From the nerve-wracking drive home with your precious baby in the back seat – when you think every other motorist is a bad driver – to the absence of having midwives on hand. But there really is nothing better than being in your own home, eating your own food and sleeping in your own bed.
There are ranges of ways to ease the transition into parenthood – and here are just a few of mine:
Grandparents are so excited and also happy to help you in your early days of parenting. For some couples its easy for parents and or in-laws to move in and be around 24/7 – for other couples for the sake of peace it’s best if relatives stay close by at a hotel. Having your parents or in law’s visiting daily is the only people you wish to see – especially in the first few weeks! From assisting with meals to ‘guarding the front door’ from an overwhelming number of visitors, who can just sit and chat for hours – they can provide immense support.
My advice to new parents – especially those who may have some tense time with their mother or mother in law – is to write a list, and request their help in getting everyday tasks done. Helping with washing, cooking, running down to the pharmacy or buying groceries can be overwhelming tasks to you when trying to breastfeed and learn about your new little baby – and you are all sleep deprived!
Well-meaning visitors will often pop in unannounced for a cup of tea and a chat, without realising how weary new parents are – especially mums, who may be experiencing pain, discomfort and mixed emotions in the first few days and weeks – from excitement and pride to fear about how they are coping. Sending a quick text to family and friends, or getting the grandparents to gently let your network know that you appreciate all the love and support but aren’t up for visitors for the first few weeks is reasonable. Remember, a lot of the people you know have been through this before and can empathise and relate.
Are you immunised?
It is all about immunisation now! Today’s mums are savvier about this, and brave enough to say that they don’t want visitors in the first 6 weeks who haven’t been immunised for whooping cough. This is a great shift in parenting, and thanks largely to a strong public health message, which I strongly applaud. For those people who aren’t immunised, why not suggest a catch-up via FaceTime or Skype and celebrate your baby news that way.
On giving advice…
I’m an expert in babies and parenting, however, I always wait for friends and family to contact me if they want advice – I never give it, not even to my family. Yet many people have one baby and consider themselves to be an ‘expert’.
Right from the start, new parents will receive advice. In hospital, you receive mixed messages from different midwives on how to breastfeed, and when returning home, mothers, mother in laws, girlfriends and closed social media groups will all offer different views on parenting. This can be extremely overwhelming! I always say to new mums that you have got to learn to trust your instincts and know yourself. Listen to your obstetrician and midwife!
Ask for help
Whilst every new parent will have a different experience, each will cherish the love and support they receive from friends and family. And remember, don’t forget to ask for help, especially in those early days! The routine starts the night you come home.
You’re ready to go home. It’s time to leave the hospital. Taking your first baby home is an incredible feeling. You’ve got the car seat all ready and all of a sudden you think, oh my goodness, there are so many drivers on the road. Everything has changed now you have your precious baby in the car. This is parenting! Every worry, every fear you have, it’s all part of parenting.
Remember when you had your scans during your pregnancy. You worried and thought, ‘I hope the baby’s ok’. Then you’d leave the doctor’s office happy before beginning to worry about what will happen next week. This is parenting. That feeling doesn’t leave you and that’s how we feel all the time. It’s ok to worry about your children, but you need to come to terms with how you feel about parenting, and not be too anxious, or worried. Rather, just take it as it comes.
So, on your way home from hospital, it feels like you’ve been driving for hours and you have your new baby in the back seat, you look at your partner, and think, wow, we made it. Arriving home is a wonderful feeling. You’ve prepared for this baby for so long and you’re finally about to begin your lives together as a family.
In the first week you’re home, try and have some rest. You need rest. You won’t be sleeping eight hours straight for some time. Enjoy your time with your baby, but lay down in the bed and rest when you can.
Watch the video below for Midwife Cath's advice for travelling with your baby.
About Midwife Cath:
Midwife Cath – Cath Curtin – is a trusted expert in women’s health, pre-pregnancy, antenatal care and education, pregnancy, labour and birth, postnatal care, breastfeeding, and parenting. She has delivered over 10,000 babies throughout her 43-year career. Trained and fully-qualified as a nurse, midwife and maternal and child health nurse, Cath has an incomparable depth of experience. Her book, “The First Six Weeks”, was published by Allen & Unwin in 2016 and is being translated for international markets. Her second book “After, The First Six Weeks” was published in August 2018 and both available through Booktopia. She has a series of popular podcasts Birth Baby & Beyond available on PodcastOne and iTunes.
Follow Midwife Cath on Instagram @midwifecath or keep up to date via Cath’s website midwifecath.com.au
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