5 Things I Learned as a New Mum

17 Feb 2017

As a first time mother, I have found myself on an exciting journey that is speeding by faster than I ever expected. I spend my days entertaining my daughter, Willow, an active and inquisitive little girl whose confidence astounds me every single day. Long gone are my days of spending two hours applying my makeup in the morning or late night drinking with friends, swapped instead for trying to get a nappy on a wriggling baby that won’t stop trying to run away and wiping mucky faces after another messy dinnertime.

Becoming a mother is an amazing journey, but one which you can often feel like you are taking alone. Here are five things I think all new mothers should know, things I have learnt since becoming a mama and a few things I think we should all be reminded of every now and then.

001. It’s OK to feel overwhelmed. Whether it’s those first few nights, first few weeks or a whole year down the line. Having a baby is a big deal, it’s life-changing, it’s hard work, it’s emotionally, physically and mentally exhausting, and that is going to be overwhelming sometimes, but that’s completely normal. There have been times where I have randomly burst into tears, purely down to how much I love Willow with every fibre of my being and how totally overwhelmed with emotion I am.

There’s this silly idea that mamas new and old should have things together, be able to keep a house tip-top, look like they’ve walked out of a modelling agency and have the perfect baby that accomplishes everything and more for their age; that is not real life and the emotions you feel are completely normal and most importantly, allowed.

002. Every baby, parent and family are different. It’s so easy to compare yourself to other mothers or even your baby to other little ones, but it’s a fruitless act. Your baby is completely individual and unique, they are going to do things at their own pace; some things may be earlier than others, some things may be later than others, but it is the right pace for your baby and that is what matters.

Don’t compare how you parent to others; make decisions which are right for your baby and family and go with it. What works for some will not work for everyone; how one mother soothes her baby may not soothe another baby, how one mama deals with bedtime routines may not suit another and how one family decide to tackle weaning may be completely different to the route you plan to take. That is all OK. No baby or parent is better than another; there is no comparison.

003. Be confident in your choices. There are so many different ways to do things and conflicting advice to make things extra confusing. There are guidelines, fuelled by dedicated research and evidence, which are there for the benefit of all; but that doesn’t mean you have to follow them if you feel an alternative method works best for you.

At the same time, don’t begrudge others the chance to go with their gut. You can only make a decision for your baby and family, so although sometimes advice and tips from other parents can be helpful, it’s absolutely fine to say ‘thanks but no thanks’ if someone is trying to persuade you into doing something you don’t feel is right for your family. So long as the health of your baby is at the forefront of your decisions, nothing else matters.

004. Take advantage of the services which are there to help you on this exciting and challenging journey into motherhood. Whether that be popping your Health Visitor a call if you have a question, going to your GP because you're unsure about something or going along to your local Sure Start Centre to check out the baby groups or even just have a little break somewhere where people understand how tiring motherhood can be.

These services are free to use and there for your benefit, don't be shy! It's also worth checking out your local Baby and Toddler Groups, some of which will be run through your local Sure Start Centre, some of which will be run by your local nurseries and some independently set up by local businesses; your Health Visitor should have a list of all of these for you, so why not ask during your next appointment? 

005. This too shall pass. My favourite quote and applicable in all areas of life, but something I think we should all remind ourselves during our first years of motherhood. The sleepless nights, the tears (from both baby and mama!), the tantrums and mess. I'm sure I'm not the only one who sometimes wonders "Is this my life now? Mess, tears and nappies?".

Just like everything, as our little ones get older, things will and do get easier. You'll find a routine for you that works, you'll come to compromises on how to do things, you'll harness your own tips and tricks, and impart them onto friends and family as they start their own journey as new parents! Until then, ride this amazing rollercoaster, take a deep breath and remember, 'This too shall pass'.

If you have any tips and tricks for new mums, I'd love to hear them! Have you been given some advice that has been revolutionary? Learnt anything along the way that you wish you knew sooner? Be sure to let me know.