Few things are as overwhelming as being responsible for a tiny human being who is totally dependent on you: for food, clothing, shelter, warmth, companionship, everything except the air God gives for free. Even with a great support system, there are still certain things first time mums realize they could have done differently, although it didn’t occur to them at the time. Here are just 5 common mistakes newbie mummies make:
1. Playing super mummy.
You cannot do everything, and you shouldn’t even try to. If a loved one wants to feed your baby for you, give them the bottle. If they offer to bathe her or carry her while you have a bath, let them! If you can afford hired help (be it live-in help or someone who comes in a couple of times a week) to take care of the housekeeping while you care for your baby, go for it. There’s no award for suffering or going it alone in this thing if you can get help, and doing everything by yourself does not make you a better mother. Neither does accepting help makes you a bad one.
2. Not knowing what you need.
Speaking of help, sometimes you may have friends and family visit and they’ll ask what they can do for you. You don’t want to squeal in delight, only to scratch your head and wonder, what do I need sef? If need be, keep a list of things you need help with, so that whenever anyone offers to help, you know what chores they can help you do, or what they can help you buy.
3. Not getting into a routine.
This is one of the worst things a new mum can do. Like toddlers, babies thrive on routines. If you take advantage of this now, it will pay off incredibly as they grow. Without being rigid (which you really can’t afford to be, especially if you’re breastfeeding exclusively/on demand) you can create a structure that lets you and every other caregiver know what happens when. This way your loved ones, especially fathers who want to help with their newborn, can step into your shoes while you get some rest or fresh air. You need a routine for your sanity and your sense of wellbeing. Get on it as soon as possible.
4. Keeping only one diaper bag.
This looks like an inconsequential thing until you start going out with your new baby and have to start packing and unpacking, deciding what needs to go out with you and what should stay at home- scattered on the bed. Instead, you can have one “main” bag for home and a smaller bag for outings. That way you can have the smaller bag packed with the essentials – diapers, wipes, changing mat, nappy cream, even a rattle or other toy. Time to go out? Pick up the outing diaper bag and go!
5. Not sleeping when baby is sleeping.
A new mum is breastfeeding round the clock for the first couple of months (or even the first six months if baby is exclusively breastfed). She’s usually up at night nursing and rocking. Then during the day when baby is sleeping, she proceeds to get things done around the house, instead of getting her own sleep. Somehow this always makes sense, but it’s actually wiser to sleep when baby is sleeping, otherwise you’ll soon be sleep-deprived, cranky, low on breast milk… Get your sleep.
Thankfully, after the 6-month mark, it gets easier as baby starts sleeping at night instead of all day, and you generally get the hang of this mummying thing somewhat. Be kind to yourself!