Some of my friends are entering motherhood for the first time (others for the 2nd or 3rd) in the next few months, & I promised I’d put together some tips for them. Here they are:
No 1: Pram/Stroller
don’t bother with the big do everything stroller! Get one thats easy to lift, use, cart & store! I went for the Quinny Zapp with a Maxi Cosi car seat for the infant stage, & Zapp seat up to 3+. This was the best designed solution I could find in 2008 when I was looking (& as an Industrial designer & design lecturer, I refused to pay up for rubbish). I loved it & never had any reason to complain! But you might even be able to do without entirely though… Or just get a cheep umbrella pram when they are older. Most people I know with fancy ones NEVER use them because they are cumbersome.
No 2: Baby Wearing
wear your baby close to you (very close), & in an upright position, especially if they have colic, or are breast fed & you are having trouble keeping up with supply that day (eg due to growth spurt). It calms you & baby, helps get the burps out & keep the milk in, & it seems to stimulate the milk (just have personal observation on the latter). I used a stretchy wrap for my 2nd (& heaviest) practically from birth, & found it much more comfortable for my bad back & my baby, than both the Baby Bjorn & the other less comfortable carrier I borrowed with my 1st. My mom made my wrap, but you can buy them online. The sooner you start wearing, the more comfortable it will be for both of you & your strength will grow with your baby.
No 3: Bicarbonate of Soda! (Wonder powder…)
This has so many uses in a house with babies and small kids that I always have at least one spare 500g box in my cupboard (& I can still run out when the poo hits!)
Use 1: sprinkle liberally on baby poo while still whet (esp. After muconium is over & it is yellow goo… Only bicarb gets the stain out!)
Use2: any other poo, esp. useful while potty training! Or during illness eg gastro…
Use 3: as per 1&2, but for vomit… Baby, child or adult. Yes, I’m serious. & I will get beyond bodily fluids, I promise.
Use 4: to absorb that phantom smell your toddler brought in.
Use 5: use with vinegar to remove the mildew from bath toys (and anything else thats moldy & comes in contact with your kids… )
Use 6: just add a little (about 1T) with your washing powder instead of using softener… Cheeper, better for your cloths & less likely to irritate sensitive skin (your & baby’s). Also less work if your machine requires softener added partway… Cause you just add it WITH the powder. You may find that you can reduce your powder usage like this too… i use 1/2 to 2/3 what I used too when i add bicarb unless it is very dirty, but that depends on your water type.
No 4: Rooibos! (Wonder liquid)
Use 1: soothing cleaner for red bums – make really strong!!! Almost black & cool with tea bags in. Gently apply with clean soft cloth or cotton wool & pat dry. Ideally should be blood temp, but too cold is better than too hot! Do not put dirty cloth/wool back into tea if you want to use it later, it is for cleaning, not dirtying. This sound obvious now, but not so much when you’re sleep deprived.
Use 2: burping – mix with colic waters/colic drops instead of water (or even use neat) to aid burping.
Use 3: my kids also drank lots of rooibos when they weren’t drinking my milk! & great for disguising subtle milk changes while weaning…
No 5: Good Breast pump (my no1 baby product!)
I’m a stay @ home mom but the hand pump I had for my 1st was such a blessing that I upgraded to the electric version for my second. It meant that I could sleep through an entire feed every day! It also helped for those days when they are having a growth spurt, or I really just need to get out without baby, or we wanted a date night… (They will come! When you start getting enough sleep.) It also meant that I could donate milk with my second (yes, not enough milk with no 1, but excess with no 2: miracles happen every day). I actually got to feel good about staying home, sitting in a chair & watching TV for 30-40min (while pumping) & relaxing while hubby dealt with the kids, because I was saving prems by doing so. When you’ve had post-natal depression you’ll understand the importance of this feeling.
I recommend Medela. Mine are the Harmony & Swing. I have lent them to friends & they have either decided that hey don’t need a pump at all, or that those are the best… Some of them had pumps that broke, or they weren’t happy with, or were borrowing others & needed to return them. I just wish I had commission for every Swing that was bought based on the joy that borrowing mine brought someone…
No 6: It is Worth It
One day they will smile at you, or giggle, or say mamma, or say I love you… Each age has its moment that pays for everything. All the poo. All the vomit. All the tears. All the screaming. You do not need as much sleep, space, silence, comfort etc. as you think you do. All you need is God. Rest on Him & when He guides you to a good pediatrician or shows your gut that something is wrong, go with it! Sometimes He’ll let you hit despair because otherwise you’d miss the road sign up ahead… When R slept a total of 3hrs in 24 in 20 min bursts, I thought I’d either die or murder after week 5… My gut said uhuh, so I marched straight to the Paed, who agreed & within 48 hrs she was sleeping! Dr Paul Sinclair is still one of my heroes for diagnosing my daughter’s food allergies & putting me on what my friends called my ‘food-free diet’. Totally worth it.
No 7: Phases
Things will change. If you are having a tough time, it will pass. If you are having a great time, make the best of it, don’t count on it lasting.
No 8: Napping
This is a little ironic coming from me @ the moment…
But nap/sleep when you can. Your house & blog etc will survive, but you need to look after yourself so that you can feed & care for your child. The only exceptions (according to my opinion) are when you need to take time for your relationships with your husband and God.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-2 (ESV)
1 For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
2 a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
Psalm 139:13 (ESV)
For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
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