Tuesday, 28 July 2015

How to enjoy your newborn

how to enjoy your newborn

The newborn baby has this ethereal quality. Tiny, delicate, fragile, sleepy. Magical. There is no baby phase like this one, which is also an emotional one for many mums. For such a momentous time, it goes by frighteningly quickly. Which is Mother Nature's ploy to get us to go for another one, obviously. 

In fact, most mums will probably tell you they can barely remember when their baby was this small. This is the time that flies by, and if you’re like me, it’s the distant memories that will keep those pesky ovaries twitching, whether you're done having babies or not. Of course, as babies grow, they continue to be wonderful. But the ethereal quality lessens - they become less delicate, less magical, and more like regular, bouncing babies.

The thing with newborns is that there is so much emphasis on them moving through that delicate phase quickly. And rightly so - we want them to feed and put on weight, to grow and develop strength and immunity. With all my babies I've eagerly anticipated the first vaccinations, being overly cautious about them catching something in those early weeks. 

And then there's all those 'firsts' that we new mums anticipate. The first smile can't come quick enough. I found myself wishing away the days with my first baby because I was so eager for that first milestone. With subsequent babies I slowed everything down and learned to enjoy each precious moment, without worrying about what was to come next. 

There's a lot I've learned about how to enjoy a newborn. Most of it is around being mindful and living in the moment, making sure to really feel the experience without letting the outside stuff get in the way.

Here's what I'd pass on to any mum expecting a baby (you lucky thing!): 

You can't spoil a newborn
This is the most important one. And it's true - it says so here and here. During those early months, there's no such thing as too many cuddles. By responding to your baby every time she cries, you're allowing for a healthy, secure attachment to develop. You are NOT creating a rod for her back and she does NOT need to be trained.

Enjoy the cuddles
There's nothing on earth like the long contented cuddles you get with a newborn. I love the way they fit perfectly into the crook of your arm, and the way they nuzzle into your body. It still amazes me that holding and cuddling them is exactly what they need for their security and development. What a treat!

Take your time with feeding
If you've decided to give breastfeeding a go, be patient with yourself and your baby as you get used to each other. Get support if you find it too painful or difficult. If you decide that bottles are the way for you, that's ok too. Feeding your baby in the way that suits you both is lovely for bonding and staring into each other's eyes.

how to enjoy your newborn

Look at the little person you made - aren't you clever? Spend loads of time staring at their perfect little face and tiny fingers and toes. What an amazing piece of work.  Listen to those beautiful newborn grunts. Look at their curly, still-in-utero bodies. I could do this all day. 

Forget self-settling  
At least in those early weeks. Don't stress about whether your baby falls asleep in your arms or while feeding, it really doesn't matter.  Believe me, you've got plenty of time to work on the self-settling. The same goes for routine - your baby isn't going to understand times and schedules, and the whole thing is likely to cause you more stress than order. Save the schedules for when baby is older and understands more about their little world. Right now they need to learn that you're there for them.

Take photos
While your baby's doing all that sleeping, get busy with your camera. Take loads of photos of them snuggling into you and curling up the way newborns do. They grow so quickly and things get so busy that it's all too easy to forget just how tiny these little people were when they first arrived into the world. 

      Go for long walks
      When your baby is this little, it doesn't matter where they sleep, as long as it's comfortable and safe. Which means you can meander about town with your pram, while away the morning in your favourite cafe or spend time at the park catching up with some fellow mums. Enjoy being out and about. Once your baby is bigger and more aware of their surroundings, you might feel the need to be home for sleeps. For now, you're free!  
how to enjoy your newborn

    Seek help
      Not all newborns are easy and sleepy. There are plenty who don't sleep so well at first and they all go through their 'unsettled' periods. But if you suspect your baby is more than just unsettled, trust your instincts and seek support from your doctor or other health professional.

      If it's raining or you can't be bothered going out, you can spend all day in your pyjamas watching TV while you feed and cuddle your baby. It's heaven on earth. It's also a great opportunity to let your body rest-up after the birth ordeal. It won't last forever - so enjoy the lazy time.
      Put the books away 
      Not all babies are textbook babies. The minute the baby book you're reading starts to cause you any angst, throw it away.          

     How about you? Did you enjoy the newborn phase? Did you find it went too quickly or were you glad for it to be over?   

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