Nurture Article | The Portland Hospital Parenting Magazine
Spring Issue 2012 | Lucy Elkins
Even though you have had nine months to adjust to the notion of becoming a parent, arriving home with a new little bundle who is totally in your care can feel a little overwhelming.
So what can you do to make the early days at home run smoothly?
The first and most important thing to remember is that you are not going to be left totally on your own.
All new mothers – whether they have their baby privately or on the NHS – are visited by an NHS midwife within a few days after they return home from hospital to ensure both mum
and baby are OK.
“It’s a good idea to write down any questions as it’s easy to forget what you wanted to ask during her visit,” suggests Philippa Bennett, an NCT teacher based in Hertfordshire.
Half hour private sessions with a midwife can also be booked at The Portland Hospital.
Around ten days after the birth, a health visitor will take over from the midwife and will advise on the baby’s development and health.
However, if your baby seems unwell, you don’t need to wait for the midwife. Call your GP who will normally find a slot to see a poorly baby even when all appointments are taken or call the Children’s Doc Around the Clock service at the Portland.
Don’t neglect yourself either. Many women get the baby blues for a few days after giving birth and feel tearful, especially when their breast milk comes in.
“I normally suggest that while dad is on paternity leave, it can help if he focuses on looking after the mum and the mum focuses on looking after the baby,” says Philippa Bennett.
“It helps maximise the amount of rest everyone gets and can reduce potential tension.” However, if you feel overwhelmingly down, anxious about the baby or guilty that you aren’t coping, then this may be a sign of post-natal depression.
Around 15 per cent of new mothers develop it, according to figures from Royal College of Psychiatrists, so don’t feel embarrassed about asking for help from your midwife or GP.
Being realistic about what is achievable with a newborn baby is also important.
“You have to accept that your life has changed,” says Margarita Atieh, a former nurse and midwife who is now a bespoke baby planner for a number of high profile clients.
“A lot of new parents feel they have to try and carry on as normal and be up showered, dressed and have a full face of make up on by 8am.
“However, in the first week or so after having a baby, it doesn’t matter if you spend the day in pyjamas as long as you feel rested and relaxed.
“So limit the amount of visitors you have and just enjoy being a new family unit.
“I often tell new parents to have a bath with their baby. Not only is it relaxing, it’s the most wonderful bonding experience for mummy, daddy and baby.”
There are also lots of practical things you can do to help you through those first few weeks of parenthood.
With a new baby there is little time to cook. So prepare bigger meals in the weeks running up to the birth and freeze them, or do an on-line order and arrange for food or even meals to be delivered to you.
Also have changing mats upstairs and downstairs, says Margarita Atieh.
“This is an especially good idea if you have had a Caesarean as going up and down stairs can be painful,” she says.
The baby market is vast but here’s what you really need at home.
* Vests, hats and sleep suits
* Car seat
* Changing mats
* Ready made milk cartons (just in case of feeding issues)
* Bottles, teats, bottle brush, steriliser and breast pump (if planning to breastfeed)
* Breast pads, maternity pads or sanitary towels
* Cotton wool
* Baby wipes
* Moses basket or cot/crib
* Scratch mittens
* Muslins and Bibs