Being prepared for life with a new baby is crucial – crucial for your overall wellbeing, crucial for your mental and emotional state and crucial to help you adapt to this major life change.
Being prepared is not just about having the right pram and the nursery decorated. While this is important and a natural nesting process it is also about what I call ‘the big stones’. Prams can be brought in a matter of minutes and your baby will actually be ok if you don’t even have one. While not everything will go according to plan, there are some big topics, which if discussed and looked into BEFORE the baby comes, will really ease the load especially when you are exhausted and time is non-existent – plus they will help safe guard you and your family when you need it most.
I asked our wonderful Facebook community for their advice on this – the response was just incredible.
Not only did mums share their ‘big stones’ advice but also wonderful messages of support in self care and being prepared that things just may not be exactly how we think – and that’s ok.
Let’s talk about the big stones first; topics like childcare, support networks and and income changes – getting your ducks in a row – so to speak! I know this is not what we want to talk about or deal with but research strongly supports this.
Here are some suggestions:
- “A health policy for bubs before any issues arrive that may create exclusions.”
- “Life insurance especially if one of you is taking time off from your career.”
- “Make sure you both have wills. Often this gets put off because you don’t want to make a decision about guardianship in the event both parents die, but just get something in place – you can review at any time.”
- “An important one for us was reassessing our wills.”
- A big freezer/fridge “so you can cook double dinner (in morning before witching hour) and chill or freeze half for another night.”
- A 4 slice toaster (“especially with the addition of baby #2!”)
- A car and car seats (from a mum who unexpectedly had twins! “Wish we had thought more about the car as had to sell and buy another. Also car seats, not many fit 3 wide.”
- A bigger house! “ We often have kids then decide we need a bigger house. If you are lucky enough to own a home then this means selling with kids around which is hard and also if you are off work you can find it hard to get a mortgage without the income – thing to plan for!”
- Talking about visitors/expectations before the baby comes – might help to solve issues when they arise as you have spoken about it prior hand….or at least make it easier to talk about at the time! “You don’t want to be rude but sometimes enough is enough.”
- “My big thing would be limiting visitors & putting boundaries in place to your comfort level & finding time to bond as a family.”
- “Setting some expectations around how finances will work.”
- “I wish we had started living off one income as soon as were found out we were expecting.”
- Commonly mentioned in research as a major contributing factor to a mum’s wellbeing in the postnatal period.
- “A new mum friendship circle ~ friends or family who you can call on at absolutely anytime including the early hours and they will come round, even if you just need them to go to the supermarket for milk and toilet roll!”
Reviewing insurance came up a few times – this is something I too would highly recommend looking into – with our first baby we looked into getting life insurance but he arrived nearly two weeks early, and while we had started this process it wasn’t until we checked AFTER he arrived we realised that we were not actually covered – and we just got something sorted quickly (not necessarily the best option but life got too busy to do much more). It was when we were having our second baby we really prioritised this and wished we had got help sooner. I meet Nicole of Lifestyle Cover through a women’s networking group and she came over to our house after dinner (seriously bubs slept) and at NO COST she looked through all our financials/insurances and sorted us out far better deals then we were currently getting saving us money AND more comprehensive cover! Check out Lifestyle Cover here.
Also just a side note on the wills – again we didn’t get even talk about this first time around and I recall my husband and I having one of those tired, grumpy arguments in the carpark at Pak ‘N’ Save while our baby slept trying to figure out what would happen to our little man (we had 1 at the time) – trust me this is NOT a conversation you want to have when you have a new baby – talk about it before!!!
So I am a little biased with this one BUT it makes a HUGE difference! This is exactly why I created my cook book Healthy Easy Dinners for Busy Mums – so before baby comes you can practice these meals and have them in the freezer for when baby comes!!
- “I had no idea absolutely no idea how hungry I would be while breastfeeding along with a baby who never slept I started to eat less until my mother in law dropped off frozen homemade meals which were a god send.”
- “If people ask if you need anything, ask them to cook you a casserole or a lasagne or something. Cooking in those first few weeks is exhausting!
- “Snack packs, draw / box near where you will feed full of snacks and water bottles, to remotes and phone. Frozen healthy meals for you and hubby, lots of freezer food, and signs for baby and mummy sleeping please leave parcels don’t knock or ring bell (for couriers)”
- “Healthy snacks when you’re breastfeeding…. I lived on Muffin Bakes and Up & Go for the first 12 weeks and I paid the price later..”
- “Countdown Online is a godsend! Especially in Winter, the supermarket is the last place you want to be with a newborn”
P.S I have loads of easy snack recipes on the blog as well such as my Banana, Walnut & LSA Muffins!
Self-Care and Acceptance
Especially for a first time mum reading this these quotes and advice from other mums are just pure gold and I wanted to leave you with them (maybe book mark this post for when you are having a day that all goes pear-shaped)
- “Plan for the worst; hope for the best. Everyone wants the perfect pregnancy, perfect birth, perfect post Partum period but few people get that. Be mentally prepared for whatever shit might hit the fan. From an emergency c-section to breastfeeding problems.”
- “No one tells you how hard it actually is- all of it. Yes it’s the most amazing thing but no one tells you you may not be able to shower some days, you may not wash your hair and straighten it for a week, you may have to walk up and down the hallway holding your baby for hours because they won’t stop crying and you tried everything. And no one tells you it’s even harder when you already have another child. I think if someone has just told me all this I would have been prepared and happy about it. The biggest thing I could tell a new mom is about acceptance. Accept its not going to be all perfect and mom’s on social media don’t actually have it all perfect, they go through exactly what we do they just post stuff on the good days, when they had time to put makeup on. But the best thing is- this to shall pass and trust me one day they will sleep through the night, they will stop crying and you will be able to wash and straighten your hair whenever you want. Accept its going to be hard but you will smile when they smile and laugh when they laugh no matter how dirty you are or how many dishes you have to wash”.
- “I wish I was more kind to myself – I know deep down I’m a great mum because my son his healthy, he is smart and above all else, he is loved. But it’s easy to get caught up in an internal dialogue of not being good enough.”
- “Be prepared for breastfeeding to be hard – it might be easy for some women but I know a lot who’ve found it tough. Ask for the help and support, persevere if you can, and know that what ever the outcome you are an amazing mum because you are keeping your baby fed – because at the end of the day that’s what matters over how it’s done”. (You can read my personal experience on this too here)
- “Being mentally prepared for getting 2 hours sleep at a time – found this a lot easier second time round as I knew what to expect. First time it really threw me as throughput pregnancy I was more focused on birth than on what it’d be like to actually have a baby.”
- “I’m a mom of 4 with unknown on the way, I’ve learned to always expect the unexpected. No matter how much you plan and save and get ready for, things will always fall into chaos at one point or another.”
- “Even if you have had a bad night and all you want to do is stay in bed all day or not get dressed, try and have a shower and get dressed – it does make you feel better and gives you mental clean start for the day. You can always get back into your pjs later!”
- “Allow yourself a day ‘off’ occasionally – stay in your pjs, don’t do any housework, easy/lazy meals; do the need minimum to keep you & bub alive.”
- “It’s okay to do the minimum to get by each day, you don’t need to try to be the “super mum”, and put yourself first”
Just a final little note:
I know this may all seem a little overwhelming – that is ok, it’s a normal response to a massive life change – I am STILL adjusting to life as a mum, just have a couple of seasons under my belt to fall back on (and plenty more seasons to come!) BUT I still get thrown, I still get overwhelmed, the fatigue still affects my overall wellbeing – being prepared truly is a secret weapon here!
xxx Dr Julie Bhosale