6 things first-time Mum's need to know

Becoming a new mama is exciting and amazing.

It’s also pretty daunting.

First-time motherhood brings with it surprises and challenges that you didn’t anticipate. It definitely won’t go as you’d planned and basically feels like 'on the job learning'.

By the time you have your next baby you’ll have muddled your way through it and be pleasantly surprised at how you managed.

That being said, there are a few things I wish I’d known as a first-time mama to make the initial journey that much easier.

#1: You can’t do it all
In this day and age, we’ve been convinced we can do it all, and do it perfectly, every time.

As a first-time mum, I felt guilty about accepting help from others. I wanted to prove to myself and the world I was coping in every way. It’s not until you’re in the thick of it you realise how impossible it is to do it all, with a big dose of burnout to boot.

There’s no shame in saying yes to offers of help like meals for your freezer, folding the ever-growing pile of washing, or holding the baby while you have a hot, uninterrupted shower (remember those?).

The saying goes, it takes a village to raise a child. The truth is, it takes a village to help a first-time mama find her feet as she learns the ropes. If you don’t have family or friends to rely on, consider finding a postnatal doula to help.

#2: Breastfeeding might be natural but it isn’t necessarily easy
Before I had my first baby, I thought breastfeeding would be easy - after all women had been doing it since the dawn of time, how hard could it be?

Boy I was wrong. While breastfeeding is natural, it doesn’t mean it comes naturally to everyone. Some women do find breastfeeding easy; others really struggle in the early days, weeks and months.

When breastfeeding was hard for me, I beat myself up because I felt like I’d failed. This meant I spent most of time in a negative headspace, feeling depressed and frustrated and not enjoying the early weeks of new motherhood.

If I’d been more prepared for breastfeeding to be trickier than expected, I would’ve reached out for support earlier, such as having a lactation consultant visit or speaking to a counsellor from the Australian Breastfeeding Association who have a 24/7 hotline (1800 686 268).

#3: Sleep will return to your life
If there is one thing you’re very aware of before having your first baby it’s the Lack Of Sleep Zone you’re about to enter.

Everyone talks about it - and they don’t spare the details about how awful it is to live like a zombie until the baby starts to sleep for longer. So you feel pretty prepared for not getting as much shut-eye as you’re used to.

The problem is, before I became a first-time mama I didn’t understand what sleep deprivation was. Sure, I’d been really, extremely tired in the past, thanks to cramming for exams (or self inflicted big nights out!) but I’d always been able to catch up with a bigger stretch of sleep.

Catching up on sleep doesn’t happen when you have a baby. And it’s impossible to be prepared for how sleep deprivation affects you, and how challenging it makes new motherhood. I felt like I was constantly in sleep deficit and would be forever losing my keys and finding my purse in the fridge.

But then my baby finally did sleep. And at some stage I started to emerge from my sleep deprived fog! Sometimes babies sleep in longer stints early, others take weeks, months, even years to figure that out. But rest assured, your child will sleep. It doesn’t feel like it will EVER happen, but it will. And when it does, it is AH-mazing.

#4: Trust your instincts
When my first baby was born, I had no idea how much I didn’t know about looking after a small, vulnerable human being. The reality is, you plan for having a baby more than you plan for what actually parenting a baby will be like.

Once your baby arrives, you question everything you do. Google becomes your best friend, you’re overwhelmed with advice (mostly unsolicited) from people you know and plenty you don’t. You constantly worry you’re messing up your child’s future in some way.

I could’ve saved myself a lot of stress by listening to my instincts instead of trying to align with what the ‘experts’ in books and on the internet were advising. I wouldn’t have taken as long to figure out what my baby needed when he cried, or that I couldn’t force my baby to sleep to a schedule.

When I tuned into my instincts to pick my baby up to soothe him or put him in the sling for a nap, we were both much happier. I realised that although I was new at being a mama, it didn’t mean my instincts weren’t worth listening to. I knew my baby best.

#5: You don’t need all the things
Part of the fun of becoming a mama for the first time is buying all the teeny tiny socks and singlets, finding the perfect pram and wondering if having the same outfit in different sizes is going a little over the top.

Most first-time mamas end up buying products they never need or use. Point in case, for my first baby I bought several swaddles (we used muslin wraps instead), at least 8 pairs of baby socks (they never, ever stay on!), and quite a few outfits that were worn once (onesies for the win!). I also acquired lots of spoons, lidded bowls and so on for feeding solids when out and about.

Newborns grow astonishingly fast and need very little in the first 6 months. Keep in mind all you absolutely and definitely need is nappies, a safe place for sleeping and plenty of onesies. When your baby gets to eating solids stage, you can pick up basic items fairly cheap and you don’t need much.

#6: Subo food bottle for when your baby is ready to start on solids
Of course, there are lots of different theories on when to start solids, and how to start introducing solids and all babies are different. But when you both feel, you are ready to ween of breast milk and/or formula, a Subo food bottle can be a handy (and mess free way) to start the transition. With our straw spout (just 5mm slits), the Subo food bottle is a great way to introduce new foods to your little one. Most babies take a few attempts to pick up the correct sucking technique, but once they have mastered it, you will love the freedom a Subo food bottle provides - to eat on the go, anywhere, anytime. Your baby will love the independence of being able to start eating all on their own. 

For more information how the Subo food bottle works, see our dedicated How I work page.

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