I love a good list so I’ve compiled this set of life hacks for new mums. They’re simple but helpful tips to make life run a little more smoothly and are definitely things I wish people had told me before I came home with my baby.
1. Crank up the white noise
When I brought my baby girl home from the hospital she wailed non-stop for days. Nothing soothed her, until my husband stumbled across a white noise video on YouTube. The sounds closely emulate the muffled hums of the womb and within seconds of putting it on the crying stopped and she fell asleep on my shoulder. Magic!
2. Bed time tip
If you have a sickie baby, lay a muslin flat in the cot, over the sheet and under baby’s head. This way you won’t have to strip the entire cot when there’s a milk explosion at 2am. It sounds obvious, but the simplest things seem like rocket science when you’re delirious with fatigue.
3. Be prepared for puke
On the subject of muslins, keep one handy in every room, and close enough to grab when you’re breastfeeding, to mop up after nasty spillages.
4. Let baby set the sleep routine
I struggled to get my little one into a sleep routine before she was about eight weeks old, so in the early days my sleep pattern was all over the place. Don’t make the same mistake I did of trying to rush about maximising your time when baby drops off. It’s tempting to think about hanging out the laundry or stacking the dishwasher when you have a moment’s peace, but instead, resist the urge to be super mum and get some shuteye. Ultimately, if you’re frazzled and sleep-deprived, you’ll find it harder to keep on top of things.
5. Accept help
Friends and family want to help and believe it or not, changing a poopy nappy is usually a bit of a novelty for them (assuming they don’t have a tiny baby of their own to clean up after, in which case, forget it!) so if others are willing to take your place on diaper duty, let them!
6. Make sure your diaper bag is always packed
In the early days, getting out of the house with a baby is a military operation. Save yourself a bit of stress by always making sure your diaper bag is packed and ready to go. If you’re looking for advice on which diaper bag to buy, read my blog on how to choose the right one for you.
7. Keep them close
According to the experts you produce more breast milk when you’re pumping if you can see or smell your baby. Alternatively, if you’re apart from them, keep a photo or an item of her clothing close as this will help to stimulate your production.
8. Post-baby pelvic floor exercises
We know! You thought you’d heard the last of these, but it’s important to continue with your pelvic floor exercises after birth in order to promote healing and prevent embarrassing problems such as urine leaks (it happens!) Stick a post-it note on your phone to remind yourself to do them. It sounds odd, but think about how many times a day you pick up your phone.
9. Do a recce of your favourite haunts
My first trip to the mall was a disaster, mainly because I had no idea where any of the lifts, baby changing or nursing facilities were. In the space of five minutes my baby began screaming for her lunch and had a diaper explosion. I was left frantically searching for somewhere to do the necessary and when you’re a few weeks into motherhood and bursting with hormones, that is not a good situation.
10. Be ready for the growth spurt
At about three weeks your little one will have her first growth spurt. Be ready for the hunger that goes with it. That’s hunger that has her rooting for you every 20 minutes by the way. Get yourself a bunch of good box sets to watch and settle down on the couch for the foreseeable. For my blog on the best box sets to watch while you’re breastfeeding click here.
11. Check the temperature
In this part of the world, it’s often difficult to gauge the temperature. It might be hairdryer heat outside, but Baltic inside when the A/C is blowing. If you’re unsure about how hot or cold your baby is, a simple tip is to touch the back of the neck. If she feels pleasantly warm and not too hot it means her body temperature is normal.
12. Have formula on standby
Not everyone will agree with this one, but having some formula on standby gave me peace of mind. When I first brought my daughter home from hospital I worried terribly that she wasn’t getting enough milk. Just knowing that if things got bad I had the option of formula really calmed my nerves. In the end I didn’t need it, but knowing I had it there, put me at ease.
13. Keep night feeds quiet
When you’re being woken up five times a night it’s tempting to keep yourself awake by switching on the lights and turning on the TV. However, you run the risk of overstimulating your baby and they’re less likely to go back to sleep in between feeds. I found a great way to stop myself from nodding off was to watch TV shows on my iPad. I wore headphones and was careful to keep the screen out of baby’s eye line, so she was none-the-wiser and always dropped off again afterwards.
14. Always get everything ready before feeds
While we’re talking about feeds, there is nothing more annoying than settling down for a nursing session, only to realise you’ve left your glass of water in the kitchen and the TV remote is out of reach.
15. Swaddle at bed time
Small babies are often woken up by their own startle reflex. This is where they suddenly feel as though they are falling and will throw open their arms and arch their backs. I found swaddling my little one at night and during nap times made her feel more secure and she was less likely to experience the reflex. If you’re facing challenges with sleeping, read my blog on how to get your baby to sleep through the night.