First Time Mum: Bringing Home the Baby

I’ve been a Mum for over a month now and have no idea where the time has gone. Looking back, the last 6 weeks are a haze of euphoria, love, tears, feeds, broken nights, nappy changes, washing, gifts, visitors and cake. It’s been the toughest thing I’ve ever done and I know it’s a cliche but it really is also the most rewarding.

I’ve learnt a couple of things about myself during this time too. Firstly, I have a lot of patience and secondly, I’m pretty good at multitasking. I’m sat writing this in bed with Connie attached to one boob, the breast pump on the other, having just finished a telephone conversation with one eye on the TV in the background.

Connie’s first few weeks haven’t been the smoothest of rides and there’s so much I want to share with you all but for now, here’s my take on labour and birth and the few days after.

My labour was straightforward and lasted just 23 hours. I was very lucky and got the birth that I’d hoped for. I spent almost half the time at home with a TENS machine for pain relief. On arrival at hospital, I had a short stint in both triage and the ante natal ward before being moved to the midwife led birthing unit where she was born, pretty rapidly, in the pool using gas and air. As she came out so quickly, I needed a lot of repair work and ended up in theatre afterwards. That part wasn’t what I’d hoped for but once Connie had arrived, I couldn’t have cared less about my own body.

Can you prepare for birth?
I’d read somewhere that to have a positive birth experience, it’s not about the way you give birth, but instead it’s being happy with all of the decisions that are made during your labour and birth, whatever happens. I didn’t have a birth plan. I had written down a few preferences in my maternity notes but had always wondered how I’d know what I wanted if I’d never experienced any of the feelings before. I went in with an open mind, hoping for a natural as possible water birth but open to any sort of pain relief should I need it. After all, there’s no golden pelvis award for doing it without drugs. I knew that if I’d written down a detailed plan of how I wanted my labour to go, I’d always feel disappointed if it didn’t happen that way. I truly believe that having an open mind is the best preparation you can give yourself.

Your Hospital Bag
You’ll find endless lists in books and online to assist with your packing. You’ll most likely take a lot that never gets taken out of the bag. I would suggest packing for one night only but have a second bag ready at home with extra clothes in that your partner or a friend can bring to you in hospital should you have to stay in for longer. You don’t want to be explaining which pair of comfy knickers you want and where they might be in the chest of drawers.

Take a look here for a great list of things that you’ll be very grateful for that you won’t find on most other lists.

  • My own top labour bag items were the following:
  • A bendy plastic straw -enabling water intake from any angle.
  • A bath pillow which I used in the pool.
  • A flannel for brow mopping.
  • A playlist of my favourite songs on the iPod.
  • A sandwich for my husband which he ate while I was in theatre. It’s a long and exhausting experience for them too. Forget the food for you, you won’t want to eat!

The First Few Days
Your baby will most likely sleep a lot during it’s first 24 hours. They are sleeping off labour. Although it’s really hard to sleep when you have so much adrenalin running through you, not to mention a newborn to stare at in amazement, I can’t recommend enough that you try and make the most of sleeping during that time. I had to stay in hospital for an extra night and so the Grandparents visited us throughout day 1. The moment that my husband left that night, Connie came alive. I hadn’t slept for almost 2 days and had a fractious newborn to cope with. A couple of hours sleep during the day would have certainly made that night a little easier for me.

When you get discharged from the hospital, there’s nothing like coming home as a family. It’s an important time to be together as a family and start to get to know your baby so really think about who, if anyone, you’d like to visit. We had a few days on our own which I can’t recommend enough if you’ve had a relatively straightforward delivery. If you do have visitors, make sure they’re useful at the same time. Ask them to bring meals or pick up some shopping for you. You certainly shouldn’t be the one organising the tea and biscuits.

And finally, there’s no escaping the fact that having a baby is painful. If the thought of giving birth fills you with fear, please don’t fret. The pain will be virtually erased from your memory very quickly by Mother Nature. I’m sure it’s her way of ensuring the continuation of the human race. In the short term however, these are the things that I swore by to aid the healing:

  • Arnica tablets for bruising
  • A salt water and lavender oil bath twice a day if you’ve had stitches or are tender. I did this religiously for 2 weeks.
  • Lansinoh nipple cream – use it from day 1 if you are breast feeding. Don’t wait for cracking or soreness.
  • Plenty of fluids, lots of iron rich food, and a serious dose of rest.

So readers, did you have a labour bag essential? Any advice for the first few newborn days? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Love, Becky x

28 thoughts on “First Time Mum: Bringing Home the Baby

  1. I’ve been waiting for this post – HUGE congrats Becky!! I’m sat reading this with my own 4.5 week old boob monster attached and the 18month old reading one of the many books she’s strewn across the floor!
    Firstly well done on the breast feeding!
    My labour was super quick and I ejected myself from hospital just hours after birth BUT my bag essentials were:
    a lovely shower gel to use post birth
    I would recommended tea bags as hospital tea is AWFUL! (Confirmed by my midwife!)
    that and sleep when the baby sleeps, housework etc can wait, I learnt that the hard way post c-section first time round!

    Oh and you can’t spoil a newborn despite what your Nan tells you :)

    • Bigger Congratulations to you Gemma. How on earth you cope with a newborn and an 18 month old I have no idea!

      Totally agree with the not spoiling thing. They’re far too young to form bad habits and who wouldn’t want to be snuggled up to Mum or Dad permanently at that young age.

      Hope you’re managing to get some sleep
      B x

  2. I’m not much of a commenter but I have been avidly awaiting your next instalment as I am currently just over 5 months pregnant at the moment and your posts are very insightful! Great advice yet again. And the pictures…..wow, so cute! I particularly like the one of Connie in the car seat – she is almost smiling! Adorable.

  3. A lovely and realistic post – great as I’m just starting to think about the whole birthplan/hospital bag thing. Love the picture in the car seat – she looks so small!

    One question – how do you keep the visitors away? I very much want to be just with my new mini family for the first few days but it’s the first grandchild for three sets of excitable grandparents so not sure if I’m going to need a doorman – hopefully they’ll understand!

    • Hi Kate,

      We had the Grandparents to visit on day 1. It was so lovely to see them all and to see how happy they were with their first Granddaughter. We’d discussed our preferences for our first few days with them a month or so before I was due so they all knew that after the initial visit, we wanted to be on our own to find our feet. I think the key is to just say what you want, rather than hoping your visitors will pick up your subtle hints. Everyone will understand and respect your wishes.

  4. Lovely post. I look forward to all baby posts Becky. You are always so sensible. Thank you.

    I love the top photo, of mother and daughter. So beautiful.

    Good point KateQ. I don’t think we have any chance of keeping grandparents and siblings away. They all live locally, and are very considerate, so hopefully it’d only be short visits. Friends and more distant family members, would telephone first, and so presumably we could let them know, when we want them.

    Would it be silly to spend my evening compiling a labour playlist for my iPod? I’m thinking Norah Jones, Katie Melua?

    xx

    • That sounds like a perfect way to spend an evening Katie. I was lucky that my husband organised mine for me and I just edited it a bit at the end. I wasn’t certain I’d even notice the music and during the contractions & pushing there was only one track that I found distracting. The playlist came into it’s own though the minute she was born (Doves – Winter Hill) and the hour or so we had in the room immediately after birth.

  5. My little girl is 16 months old and time has flown by so this brought back a lot of memories.

    The one thing I couldn’t have done without is snacks! I didn’t have any dinner the previous night and had my daughter at about 8 the following day so missed the hospital breakfast. I was so hungry afterwards – I took loads of breakfast bars and oat bars and they were just so nice with a cup of tea afterwards (good idea bringing your own tea bags).

    For the first few days I also recommend rest (if you can) and just make sure you eat healthy meals and drink plenty of water as its so easy to forget!

    Prior to giving birth, I attended a pregnancy yoga class which really helped me get into the right mind set and helped with breathing whilst in labour. Finally I’d also make sure you know when and where your nearest breastfeeding support group is – if you find breastfeeding painful, getting help as soon as possible will really help and you’ve more chance at succeeding with it.

    I can’t wait to go through it all again and will be trying for no. 2 after Christmas x

    • I totally agree with everything but particularly the Breastfeeding comment. Nobody warns you it could take 6 weeks to get it all properly established. Support is so important. I’m hoping to write a post about my trials and tribulations!

      • The Thursday morning group at Moss Side Sure Start centre, near Alexandra Park is amazing. Tracy, the support worker, is fab and I attended until Isabelle was 6 months ;-)

    • Forgot to say I had to wait ages for something to eat too so yes snacks for you for after are very important. They’re also very handy if you end up staying in hospital for a few days.

  6. What a beautiful baby – congratulations! Thanks so much for all these really helpful ideas and thoughts. I am pregnant with my first baby and have just 9 weeks to go so the timing is perfect! One question: did you mean to include a link to hospital bag items in your post? If so I couldn’t find it!

  7. This post is so fantastic, honestly one of the best and most helpful things I’ve read on this subject! I get so excited to read your posts, Becky – you just sum it all up perfectly and tell us exactly what we need so THANK YOU.

    Great suggestions that I will definitely use. I know that my hospital bag will be full of snacks because my hubby gets pretty grumpy if he hasn’t eaten! And you’ve definitely given us something to think about re people coming to visit straight away. I’ve never heard that before, so good tip.

    Hope you’re doing well. Looking forward to your breast feeding post.

    xxxx

    • Thanks Esme, glad you’ve found it useful. We discovered quite quickly that although it’s lovely to have visitors, the baby will more often than not be asleep during their visit. That’s the time you should be sleeping and it’s a tough balancing act between the two. I’d suggest only booking one group of visitors per day and give yourself a day off every few days. The daytime naps will make the nights more manageable!
      B x

  8. This is such a great post! Congratulations Becky on baby Connie she is adorable! I don’t think there’s much of a gap between our babies as Emma is also seven weeks old this week!

    I can’t agree more with your post! The only other things I would recommend are some sugar boosters like Lucozade (with the nozzle so its easy to drink) and Haribo. A friend also bought me a set of lovely bath gels, creams and face mist which were a delight! I didn’t pack any cotton wool and needed them to give Emma a wash as the hospital wouldn’t let me bath her – luckily they had a secret stash for me to use!

    I can’t agree more with all of the breastfeeding advice above! I really struggled for the first few weeks and could have easily given in. My mum noticed this and after having four children she knew exactly what I was doing wrong! I now love the experience! Don’t be afraid to ask for help!

    Hope you and Connie are doing well!

    Diane x

  9. Hi Becky congratulations again on your beautiful little girl :-) I have been looking forward to hearing how you’ve been getting on.

    I would probably reiterate most of what’s already been suggested above and straws were my lifesaver during labour! Also make sure your partner knows where everything is in your hospital bag so you don’t end up trying to explain it to him through contractions! A few weeks before your due date, you can get maternity sheets to put under your bed sheet just in case your waters break, it saves your mattress!! I think they’re about £5 from Boots, so glad I had mine!

    Definitely try to have an open mind as to your birth plan, mine certainly didn’t go the way I had hoped and whilst it was a difficult birth I pretty much forgot about it as soon as I held Isabella. Do make sure you have plenty of food to keep you going after, I hadn’t eaten for over 24hrs when I gave birth yet I wasn’t offered any food until a good 6 hours after she was born, I can’t fault the midwives as they were amazing but they were just too busy once I was on the ward. I was so grateful for my little snack box!

    I’ve found since having a baby that nearly everyone has an opinion on breastfeeding and whilst some women and babies take to it naturally, others don’t. Please don’t berate yourself if you don’t manage to breastfeed. I always assumed I would just be able to do it, but I found it near impossible and I just could never get her to latch on, I was on the verge of tears all the time and it was bloody painful. One of my midwives was very pro-breastfeeding and whilst I know she was trying to help she did make me feel somewhat inadequate that I was not able to do it. I was also going through an incredibly difficult time as my dad was terminally ill and I just couldn’t deal with it all. I was in a cycle of expressing constantly (imagine being sat up at 3am watching who knows what on the telly getting ready for your babies 4am feed, it’s exhausting!!) and then having to feed her via a bottle. Thankfully after 2 weeks of trying another midwife just said to me, that I should give myself a break and do what was best for me and Isabella and I ended up giving her formula. It was the best thing I could have done at the time. At the end of the day you need to do what is best for your sanity and your baby and not what other people think you should do. Of course I wish I had been able to but it wasn’t meant to be with her. Perhaps with the next one :-)

    As for visitors, just make sure you only have one set a day, I made the HUGE mistake of arranging two separate lots of visitors with an hour in between, unfortunately the first lot were late and the others early so we had a house with 5 children & 5 adults with everyone wanting to hold the baby. I just wanted to grab Isabella and run up into our bedroom with her, it was just too overwhelming for me. Give yourself time to enjoy those first few days as your new family, good friends will always understand.

    And of course just enjoy those few precious weeks, I know everyone tells you but it really does fly by. My munchkin is now a little girl instead of a baby and I can’t believe how quickly she’s changed.

    I hope you enjoy every minute of it and I look forward to your next instalment xx

  10. Great post, brilliant advice. My bundle of joy is 7months old now I exclusively breast fed for 6 months and the Lansinoh cream tip is 100% true. I also took a flask of hot chocolate to bed so that at the 4am feed I could have a lovely sweet hot drink. It was a real treat! I agree with the labour thing too – people love a good drama and you only ever seem to hear a out nightmare labours but I had a 9lb 2 first baby without any horror story, but its not called labour for nothing it’s hard work!.

  11. Lovely to read. I have a newborn who is 7weeks now and a two and half year old. The first birth was long and exhausting, the second a doddle! Still, bringing home a baby is a shock to the system, but a lovely one. I too didn’t have a birth plan – it’s the best way, I think :)

    x

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