A lovely lady called Kim Bradshaw has written the following article, or you could actually call it The New Mum’s Manual! She has kindly let me add this piece of writing to my website and I thought it would be a brilliant read for first time mums in particular! Top tips, ideas, reminders and references are all in here to help you get the best out of your early mummy weeks and months!
Living in Portsmouth, UK, some of the shops mentioned are local ones but please do comment if you have any questions and I can help you out with finding things!
So put your feet up with a cuppa and enjoy the read! If you don’t have time to read it all in one go then just bookmark the webpage and come back to it! Enjoy….
Children & Mothers Never Truly Part-Bound Together In The Beating Of Each Other’s Heart
By Kim Bradshaw
The New Mum’s Manual
The time has come! You have done that pregnancy test and you have waited forever (12 weeks) to finally tell people your news. Your news that spreads across your face and involuntarily moves your hands to cuddle your belly. You’re still scared though full of worry that something will go wrong-but don’t. Please don’t, just enjoy! Enjoy being made a fuss of, enjoy being able to eat naughty treats, enjoy not having to drink alcohol-it tastes rubbish anyway. Enjoy getting fatter without feeling guilty; enjoy sending people out to buy weird and wonderful graving foods. Enjoy having afternoon naps. Enjoy reading (Lesley Pearse or Cecelia Ahern are great authors) and catching up on those little things you wanted to do once on maternity leave, enjoy nesting it is natural.
Enjoy every moment but be sensible, tune in to your body and do what feels right. Don’t over work yourself or try hard at work not to be the pregnant one- Be it! Your baby matters more to you than any colleague. As regards to what should you buy and how do you breast feed this will all be something that your midwife/health visitor will work through with you. I used to write a list of questions that went round my mind for the midwife. You are monitored throughout your pregnancy so you have plenty of time to ask questions. You will receive a great book from birth to 5 years of everything you need to know and booklets about your financial entitlements plus a great DVD on how to breastfeed.
Lets get organised!
Get organised try to understand the labour process so you know what to expect, have your bag packed a month before at least, the standard what to pack lists are great. I did buy a cheap night dress with buttons (Primark £3) to throw away after birth and a thin cool dressing gown as hospitals are warm. Organise phone numbers and visitors. Don’t forget you will need the car seat to bring baby home.
Queen Alexandra hospital have very strict visiting-Dads 9am till 9pm then two over 16 year olds (unless they are your own children) to the bed between 2 30 – 4 30 and 6 30- 8 30. Have a think who you want to see whilst your in hospital and let others know before they turn up and get told to leave. The staff seem pretty relaxed about mobile phones as long as they are on silent and used to text.
Take the camera with you during birth (above waist photos obviously) -you are allowed to use it.
You won’t believe you are going to become a mum until the first night you bring your baby home and shut your door! “Aaahhh I’M A MUM/DAD” every question enters your head-am I good enough, do I know what I am doing, does this baby feel safe??? All the emotions will be shaken up and will flow out in tears for no explainable reason-and guess what? It’s all normal! You haven’t got post natal depression you have the baby blues and they will pass.
But with all this in mind try to discourage visitors as you enter your home as a family! Enjoy that moment as mum and dad.
Remember this is all new for you and the baby-neither of you have experienced this before. You will all feel new-you to be parents and the baby to being out in the world with only crying as a way of communicating. Babies are quite simple they only have a few needs-hungers, wind, tiered, over stimulated, cold or too warm and mostly they want a cuddle from mummy. They have been all snug inside you now they want to feel secure outside with you.
Hellos and goodbyes!
Say hello to sleep deprivation, say good bye to quality time and taking in information-you will stare at the TV but you won’t watch it. Say goodbye to your handbag and wearing perfume or pretty jewellery that could scratch baby. Also you may find your table manners disappear- “please chop my dinner up and give me a spoon” Remember to actually finish peeing before you rush back to baby-yes it happens you’re in such a rush that you don’t even relax whilst peeing let alone having a poo!
In 3 months you won’t feel so restricted-you will be able to put baby down and they will coo happily whilst you get on with bits, the true dependent times will move by, you will find a routine and a better sleep pattern or you will learn to cope with disturbed sleep without feeling a wreck.
Advice – to listen or not to listen!
Take unwanted advice with a smile and don’t take anything negative to heart-remember for a lot of people it’s been a while since they had babies or that you are simply different. Plus you have too much time to sit and dwell on unwelcomed comments. Don’t waste time on negativity-enjoy every moment
Try to be organised if you can get organised before the baby gets desperate in the morning for a feed, have a quick shower, get your breakfast and a cuppa, a glass of water ready on the coffee table with a bottle before you sit with baby and your gathered TV remote, mobile, home phone, muslin cloth and pacifier. If you have time make a sandwich for your lunch and put it in the fridge, honestly you will put the baby first and starve if you don’t get organised.
When bathing baby to have everything ready as when they get out of the bath they tend to cry as they are cold. As they get older and can sit up you can use a baby bath seat. I found drying Olivia’s hair after it had been washed with a clean/dry flannel helped with the drying/dressing process. This way you don’t get a big towel wet by dropping it in the bath and its one less thing to dry when you get baby out. Share a bath with baby, this is a great bonding exercise for dads. Get organised though so that when baby has finished bathing you have everything to hand. Have a small flask of boiling water, to heat the bottle in the jug whilst you dry baby so when baby is dry the bottle is ready!
Don’t deliberately be quite around baby keep the TV volumes as normal- over wise you will be have to be quiet so babies can sleep-get them used to noise then it won’t be a problem. (I can Hoover around Olivia whilst she sleeps)
Try to limit visitors unless they are the super helpful ones that don’t wake the baby or demand cuddles even though the baby is asleep. I learnt to be firm with visitors after just 10 days. You cant allow baby to be disturbed or unsettled just because people are visiting, if baby is settled then all is fine but if constant cuddles unsettle them then the answer to “Can I have a cuddle?” is No! Its you that gets left with an unhappy baby when they have gone home.
Also remember to get photos of you together so ask visitors to do this. Also if the visitors ask “Is there anything I can do?” the answer is “Yes” visitors like to do their bit and help out, let them.
Dad can ask to tell mum what sex the baby is instead of the midwife at birth!
Dads your role is to be there for mum, help with baby if they feel confident but help mum out more-cook if possible (but remember for mum eating up to the table becomes a chore when she has just settled baby-don’t expect her to enjoy your wonderful cooking for a while), tidy behind you at least, praise and don’t put demands on mum-your sex life will return.
You will feel important again pretty soon, it seems for men although they knew they were going to become a dad they don’t quite understand just how much this little bundle affects everything. Make time for a cuddle and a chat. A bunch of flowers will be lovely-thank you. In the first few weeks the house may not be as tidy as normal because mum needs to sleep when baby does-don’t panic it will get easier in just a few months and that time will fly.
Always smile at baby when looking at them as they pick up on this.
Things I couldn’t live without
V-Shape pillow and spare pillow case-sold at Paul Simons at £6.99
Muslin cloths (times 24 without a tumble dryer)-sold in most superstores or bulk buy at Tesco direct catalogue
My baby’s journal-£4 on e-bay
The car baby mirror – Halfords about £12 (it helps you see baby in the back of the car in your rear view mirror)
A good camera with a spare battery
Cellular blankets for the Moses basket/pram-bought at Asda £4 each (fleece blankets are too warm for the baby)
“Summer” car seat cushioned lining-very cheap on e-bay
Cot top changer – NCT Nearly new sale/car boot/e-bay The cot top changer was a god send after a caesarean but when Olivia was 4 months we moved the cot in our bedroom as she out grew her mosses basket but seemed to small for her own room, so this meant I couldn’t use the top changer.
A bedroom clock visible at dark (£3 in Wilkinson’s)
A thick double sided picture fleece soft blanket to throw on the floor when baby wants to wriggle around (a typical gift bought abroad, Marys Bizarre down North end or e-bay)
Bio oil/moisturiser for stretch marks – sorry but they do arrive
Nappy sack holder
A nice candle and bath soap for you! To relax in at least once a week whilst daddy’s taking control. Do take time to do this.
NCT antenatal classes £190 (discounts for people out of work) for two days 9am till 3pm then an evening class to learn about breast feeding. The classes are beneficial and after you have all of the attendee’s as support via e mail or meet up’s. Plus NCT Nearly New Sales-The cost of kitting out your child for the first five years can run into thousands of pounds. NCT Nearly New Sales are the perfect solution – top-quality baby and children’s clothes and equipment at bargain prices straight from their loving owners. Nearly new sales are held locally every few months (see the NCT website).
An empty journal, for you to jot your thoughts or bottle/sleep times.
A bike lock as most clinics or groups aren’t pram friendly so you’re best to be prepared.
Things you will need
The entire babies essentials-always search on line around the different stores for the best price before going shopping. I bought the steriliser, bottles and bits at half the price in Tesco’s compared with Boots. Also you get given many vouchers for money off always use these or buy at the baby events at asda.
Bottles with slow flow teats, to start off with (I liked the tomee tippee closer to nature)
Electric Steriliser-Tommee Tippee is steam steriliser so you only need water!
Formula milk dispenser’s for going out
Changing bag-I rate the Mothercare changing bag at around £30
Formula milk-I prefer Aptamil first milk but it’s all down to personal preference. (Aptamil worked out at 85p per day to feed baby at 6, 3oz bottles per day. Boil fresh water and fill your sterilised bottles with the required amount of water. Keep the bottles on the side then when needed add the powder and heat.)
Vases-funny one but you will end up with flowers
Wet wipes-I like pampers sensitive or Asda little angels (with aloe vera and baby lotion), I didn’t like huggies wipes for her bottom but I liked them for wiping around her mouth and under her chin after a bottle.
Nappies – I like Tesco Little Ones as voted online, Asda’s, Sainsbury’s or boots own brands. I didn’t like pampers although not bad but they smelt as soon as they were wet and Huggies I found I was changing babies clothes every time she soiled them as well as her nappy. Nappies – you will use about 10 a day in the beginning then it will reduce as baby sleeps more as you don’t tend to wake them to change their nappy.
Moses basket-boots have a nice range (the stand can be bought on e bay or nearly new sale)
A small Tupperware tub too put warm water in the first few weeks to wipe baby with cotton wool instead of wipes when changing nappy to decrease the risk of skin sensitivity in the beginning.
Johnsons baby wash and shampoo
Baby bath and top and tail bowl (I use the top and tail bowl to soak babies’ soiled clothes)
Baby coat hangers-set of 9 at Tesco £2 50
Fairy washing liquid for clothes washing-it just has to be as it smells lovely- I pre-washed everything Olivia has ever worn.
Nappy sacks-the nappy disposal bin is just a waste of money
Baby boutique vests and baby grows (6 of each is sensible) from Tesco with the buttons down the side rather than around the top of the legs (Olivia always awakes with a foot hanging out of the side between her buttons when wearing grows that fasten round the middle) plus these both button down the side so you don’t have to put it over babies head. They are white too so easy to boil wash if need be and good for boy or girl
I liked the long sleeve vests as Olivia was born in the colder months but in the summer the non sleeve vests are best
You will receive sample products such as Sudocrem or Bepanthen to see what suits baby so use them before you bulk buy-if you change baby’s nappy frequently you shouldn’t have a problem but all babies’ sensitivity is different.
Dimmer lights are good for night feed or if you live near a street light they are normally sufficient. The darker you keep it at night the easier it is to get baby back to sleep. Also try not to talk to baby at night the quicker you help them understand day and night the better.
Bedroom temperature gauge – Asda
A plastic jug to warm bottle – glass ones take longer
A small flask (350 ml-asda £3) to take boiled water to re heat bottle when out if your not near a café or relatives
If breast feeding-a pashmina to keep your dignity whilst feeding and button down tops to save showing your belly. Matalan do some cheap button down tops and Tesco sell breast feeding bras at £4each.
Baby-lo rocking chair and stool (I bought mine for £60 on e-bay)
Soft bath towels for baby-the hoods on the hooded towels seem too big in the early weeks
A plastic wallet to keep all your money off vouchers-otherwise you forget them or they take over your purse.
Rain cover for the pram when raining, windy or cold.
Things to think about
Keep your first pregnancy magazine to give to your grown up child when their day comes to tell you you’re going to be a grandparent
Keep the newspaper printed on the day of your baby’s birth to show them when they are adult. Plus if the birth announcement goes in the paper make sure someone saves it for you.
When picking your first photo album think what style you want so in years to come your collection of albums look tidy and stylish.
Collect a Christmas tree ornament every year for your child so when they move out in many many years to come you can give them their own well thought out tree collection. Also when people are stuck for ideas on what to buy baby you can ask them to get them an ornament that year
Pillow cases are the right size and material for the pram or Moses mattress.
Mark the first baby grow your baby wears so when its washed and too small you can keep it to show them in years to come.
The seasons-don’t buy warm clothes or too many baby sleep suits for summer as baby will only need a vest to sleep in during summer months-It’s a mistake I learnt from.
When printing photos its cheaper at Asda to print over 200 as it works out at 5p per copy rather than 20p per copy so bulk print for yourself and family if it works out cheaper. Also you can search the internet for free prints. There is many websites that just want you to register to get free prints. You can also upload your photos from home and send them to Asda Fratton/Havant or Jessop’s in Arundel Street to be printed in an hour’s time. (This saves giving your memory card out to possibly get lost).
I had come to the end of my mobile phone contract so I got a new contract with £250 cash back as my chosen gift-the money is always useful.
Look into the £190 pregnancy grant and the £500 maternity grant once baby is born.
New arrival baby cards-grandparents love these.
When registering the baby mum and baby don’t need to attend-hand this responsibility to dad.
The Tommee Tippee grooming set-you will only use the baby nail clippers and brush so buy them separately.
When putting baby down for a nap try to use the cot in the nursery in the day if possible to get them used to it for when they move into it. Don’t rush this move though unless you’re comfortable. They say move baby out of your bedroom at 6 months. This may mean having the cot in your room if baby outgrows the mosses basket.
Babies don’t have awareness that if you leave the room that you will return so try to sing when in other rooms so they can hear you.
Memory box-buy a plain one then cut up bits from your babies cards to varnish them on to the box.
Immunisation injections-When taking baby to these dreaded appointments remember that baby would be a lot unhappier with the illness that these injections prevent them getting.
Baby will start eating food that will stain clothes, so keep the stained ones that can’t be used and make a patch work quilt with the unstained parts.
When thinking about where your baby will go when you return to work don’t think aloud around grandparents. Grandparents offer to have baby when you return to work, this is kind but don’t make any decision until you see baby with them. Grandparents often forget just how demanding a baby is and if they can’t keep up with your baby do you really want to make a decision now that you won’t be able to go back on without hurting their feelings.
My husband and I had an agreement in the end so I could feel that the in-laws wouldn’t keep dismissing what I wanted for baby. We agreed that they had three chances, if they kept going against us after 3 warnings then baby would attend nursery for the time they were stepping in. This way I could feel that we had control and they couldn’t keep over riding our wishes. They weren’t aware of this obviously and after the second chance I would ask nursery if they could increase baby’s hours in the future if need be.
Your health visitor or midwife will inform you of bump and baby groups if you want to join them. I would advise you do attend groups; they are welcoming, helpful, and social and help get you out and about. I joined groups with Olivia and we loved them, Olivia even met babies that were to attend her nursery/children’s centre. Also when baby gets to old to attend groups we simply attended the Connors toy library where you also get to borrow toys.
Breast feeding-It’s a personal choice-If it works for you and baby then brilliant! If it doesn’t, don’t feel guilty. A friend of mine was advised to continue breast feeding by her midwife as baby was gaining weight well even though her baby was feeding for 10 minutes every hour! That didn’t sound very supportive to me.
There are breast feeding groups which are very helpful but don’t get comfortable as when you want to move on from breastfeeding you get told to leave the group. I would advise that you attend group for the information you need then attend another baby group for socialising.
Sometimes you will find yourself wondering how you are meant to juggle things for example-
Do you take baby in to the garage when paying for petrol? I always drive to a pay at pump
Do you get baby out to get a car park ticket? I always make sure I have change in my purse then park as close as possible to the ticket machine, then I would either lock baby in as I am very close or take baby with me.
Do I leave baby in the car to unpack shopping or take baby in doors? I was able to park outside my door whilst I put my shopping just inside the door, I would then get baby and slowly move the baby and shopping further in doors. This may mean I need to move my car later to my actual car park space.
Christmas gifts – if you have an early in the year baby then by Christmas you could do a photo book as presents for grandparents of your babies first’s.
By the time you’ve come to the end of your maternity leave you will find that baby will adapt really well to its new care situation if you have to return to work-don’t feel guilty. There is plenty of support out there if it does make you feel anxious, talk to mums in your baby groups they will reassure you.
Join all the clubs in store or online
You get many free gifts or money off vouchers
Tesco’s,sainsburys,asda,boots,pampers,huggies,mothercare,s&m,aptamil,hipp organic baby food, tomee tippee, advent, mamas and papas, Heinz baby and bounty online have great support forums.
Websites I liked
- http://www.photobox.co.uk/Take a peek at the photo diary
- http://www.funkypigeon.com(use the code funkystreet50 for a half price card)
- http://www.facebook.com/FOR SALE – CHILDRENS TOYS/CLOTHES UK
- Robert Bish D.I.Y Tel: 023 92820602 252 Fratton Road, Portsmouth, PO1 5HH-You will find new cot bolts here
Things you won’t need straight away
Baby carrier – You are best to wait until baby can hold and move, their own head.
When considering a bouncer look for one that you can adjust the back height.
Breast milk expresser – you can hire one from breast feeding groups or use the electric one on the hospital ward. You are advised not to give expressed milk from a bottle into well established with breastfeeding so once your happy in your routine you can purchase your own expresser if need be at a later stage
Stair gate – NCT nearly new sale £5 each
Bath seat £10 at Asda
A Mother’s Wish
I hope my child looks back on today
And sees a parent who had time to play
There will be years for cleaning and cooking
But children grow up when you’re not looking
So settle down cobwebs-dust go to sleep
I’m cuddling my baby, and babies don’t keep
Knowing what I now know-if I were to put together a new mum’s hamper I would put these things in it.
- A V-Shape pillow
- A small flask
- 2 plastic jugs
- A baby Journal and pen
- A notebook
- A small A5 size plastic wallet
- A packet of muslins
- A set of mittens
- A small cotton hat
- A relaxing scented candle
This should all come to £30 if you bought the items where I suggested.
Believe me the hamper could continue to grow!
Thank you, Kim Bradshaw
I hope you enjoyed reading Kim’s fabulous article and that it’s helped you be more organised and feel ready for your new exciting life!
To read more about Kim, read her blog about being a surrogate mother here. Please do share these articles so more mummies can be helped and inspired!
Bye for now, Lisa x
P.S. If you have something you’re passionate about and enjoy writing, why not write a blog post or and article and I’d be happy to post it on my website! Just contact me on the email above.
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