Leaving hospital to return home with a new baby can be frightening for parents, especially first timers. From the nerve wracking drive home, when you think every other motorist is a bad driver, to the absence of having your trained medical staff on hand. But there really is nothing better than being in your own home, eating your own food and sleeping in your own bed.
Here, midwife Cath shares a range of ways to ease the transition into parenthood:
Grandparents. Having your parents or in law’s visiting is extremely handy, especially in the first few weeks! From assisting with meals to ‘guarding the front door?’from an overwhelming number of visitors, they can provide immense support. My advice to new parents, especially those who may have friction with their mother or mother in law, is to write a list, and request their help in getting everyday tasks done. Chores such as vacuuming, running down to the chemist or buying groceries can appear insurmountable when trying to get through a new routine.
Visitor ‘etiquette’. Well-meaning visitors will often pop in unannounced for a cup of tea and a chat, without realising how weary new parents are, especially mums, who may be experiencing pain, discomfort and mixed emotions in the first few days and weeks, from excitement and pride to fear about how they will cope. Sending a quick text to family and friends, or getting the grandparents to gently let your network know that you appreciate all their love and support but aren’t up for visitors for the first few weeks is reasonable. Remember, a lot of the people you know have been through this before and can empathise and relate.
Are you immunised? It is all about immunisation now! Today’s mums are savvier about this, and brave enough to say that they don’t want visitors in the first 6 weeks who haven’t been immunised for whooping cough. This is a great shift in parenting, and thanks largely to a strong public health message, which I strongly applaud. For those people who aren’t immunised, why not suggest a catch-up via Facetime or Skype and celebrate your baby news that way.
Unsolicited advice. I’m an expert in babies and parenting, however I always wait for people to contact me if they want advice, I never give it, not even to family. Yet many people have one baby and consider themselves to be an ‘expert’. Right from the start, new parents will receive advice. In hospital, you receive mixed messages from different nurses on how to breastfeed, and when returning home, mothers, mother in laws, girlfriends and closed social media groups will all offer different views on parenting. This can be extremely overwhelming! I always say to new mums that you have got to learn to trust your instincts and know yourself. Listen to your obstetrician and midwife!
Whilst every new parent will have a different experience, each will cherish the love and support they receive from friends and family. And remember, don’t forget to ask for help, especially in those early days!
Midwife Cath, Cath Curtin, is a trusted expert in women’s health, pre-pregnancy, antenatal care and education, pregnancy, labour and birth, postnatal care, breastfeeding, and parenting. She has delivered over 10,000 babies throughout her 42-year career. Trained and fully-qualified as a nurse, midwife and maternal and child health nurse, Cath has an incomparable depth of experience. Her book, The First Six Weeks, was published by Allen & Unwin in 2016 and is being translated for international markets. Her next book will be published in 2018.