To celebrate the launch of VOYA’s new Mum to Be range, this month VOYA are putting the spotlight on pregnancy, labour, postpartum and being a mum. In earlier blogs we spoke to guest blogger Mary Tighe from DoulaCare Ireland who shared some frequently asked questions about the benefits and purpose of hiring a Doula. Local lactation consultant, Pauline Mc Loughlin provided us with 10 excellent steps to Get Breastfeeding off to a Good Start and lastly, Lauren from Full Circle Health talked us through the process of Hypnobirthing.
In our final part of the series, we are bringing the blog in-house and asking our VOYA Mum's to give their top tips on parenting and how to prepare for the arrival of your new baby. We are aware the internet is full of information, which can be quite overwhelming, and, in our opinion, experienced Mum’s and Dad’s, who have been there, sometimes have the best tips on life with a new baby. Real-world stories can often help cut through the noise and therefore we hope you find the below useful.
Jacqueline Mellett - VOYA Marketing Executive and Mum to Art (Age 3) and Olive (Age 1)
Getting breastfeeding established was a big thing for me and I found having a lactation consultant to hand really helped. So, if breastfeeding is something you want to do, I would really recommend contacting a Lactation Consultant prior to baby’s arrival. One of the ways you can do this is to join a good breastfeeding preparation workshop, these meetings are usually run by lactation consultants and they will help to increase your confidence in your ability to breastfeed, while also giving you the opportunity to discuss your concerns and if required, allow you to book private one to one sessions with a lactation consultant to help get your individual needs met. You might find our blog on 10 helpful tips to get breastfeeding off to a good start helpful, read more here.
Once baby arrives and you are breastfeeding, don't get too hung up on the weighing scales, that the home nurse comes with to weigh baby in the weeks after birth. If all other signs are looking healthy, there is no need to worry about baby's weight gain! Being honest, the focus on the numbers around the baby's weight was stressful for us, but thankfully our local lactation consultant was there to reassure us that all was fine. Another tip on the breast-feeding front is to invest in Angel Silver Healing pads, they are a life saver and have helped so many breastfeeding mums I know. Also, in the hospital, every time you need to feed your baby, ring the bell! Get all the assistance you can while it is available!!
There were two key purchases that I'm so glad I invested in. I loved my Himalayan salt lamp as it gave a lovely soft tone for those night feeds and I also loved my swaddle blanket as I really believe that swaddling works, it gives baby a cocoon feeling leading for a longer and sounder sleep.
Adjusting to Motherhood
Other advice would be to prepare yourself that sometimes motherhood can feel lonely. Despite spending an entire day with another human glued to your chest, you feel like you've been in complete isolation. You haven't spoken normal adult words, in a normal adult voice, to a normal adult human, and in fact, you haven't actually done anything productive at all (apart from nurturing your new born that is!). This is a normal feeling & will pass.
In the early days after the birth of my babies, I kept visitors to a minimum which really helped as I was trying to figure out breastfeeding. After a few weeks, I loved having visitors, but after 40 minutes, I wanted them to leave! Don't feel bad about limiting visitor numbers and the duration time, always do what is best for you and your baby.
Lastly, remember everyone has a different experience so try not to compare. Some women have easy pregnancies, some have a harder journey. Some have easy births, some have a less straightforward experience. Some mothers find the first 8 weeks hard, while some may be flying it with baby sleeping 8 hours a night! I personally found the 6 month mark the hardest, underneath it all, everyone has their turn of a difficult patch at some stage. Don’t compare! We are all new to this and trying our best to figure out this crazy busy, but hugely loving and rewarding world of parenting!
Gayle Kelly - VOYA’s Sales and Training Executive & Mum to Cara (Age 1)
Nothing can really prepare you for what’s to come (in a good way!) but one of my biggest tips would be is to…. RELAX! Relax and enjoy the time before baby - enjoy sleep ins, early nights, reading a book in complete silence, spending the day watching back to back episodes of your favourite TV show, a meal out with your partner and being able to eat with two hands, all of which seem like simple tasks, but you will appreciate every single one so much once baba arrives!
As Delivery Day approaches
When it gets close to D-day, try to relax in the run up to it and all the way to the finish line – its sounds impossible but trust me give it a go and trust your body and the team that you will have in the hospital! I took the time beforehand to practise pregnancy yoga and hypnobirthing (read our blog about Hypnobirthing here), all of which I feel played a huge part in me, thankfully, having a quick and easy labour!
Once Baby is Here
Finally, relax once baby arrives, trust your maternal instincts, understand that all babies are different, and all mums are different too! There is no right or wrong way. For me, I breastfed, meaning Cara woke every 2- 3 hours, she hated to be placed in her crib so generally slept on me for the first few months and she hated tummy time…oh and our routine was practically non-existent! However, the mum next door had a baby, 1 week older, who slept 12 hrs a night, and essentially done the complete opposite in perfect sequence! Would I change anything though? Absolutely not! The time goes by so fast, it's a lot to take in a first but try to take everything you’re told with a pinch of salt, go with the flow and do what works for you and your baby!
Katherine Durcan - VOYA HR Manager & Mum to Twins Matty & Ella, Age 4
My first tip is to try to take lots of videos and pictures in the first few hours after your baby or babies are born, the memories of these precious first hours will be invaluable in the years and months to come. Secondly, don’t guilt yourself into doing everything, we are not super human! If you can. treat yourself to 2 things - a cleaner when things are getting too much and a babysitter while you sleep. Building the relationship of trust with a babysitter and allowing you to sleep during the day, does you good as a parent!
The are 2 key areas I would invest in, the first is a good pushchair that can transition as your baby grows and the second is a good cot that has high sides and that can transition into a toddler bed when the time comes. Other devices I found helpful included the clevermama fruit feeder which was an excellent way to introduce fruits like organic strawberries and bananas at the weaning stage and also helped with teething, if cooled first. An automatic swing was also helpful, as it would send baby to sleep and has a number for different settings, depending on baby’s needs. I also found that lullaby music and baby lamps, which I rotated frequently, gave a sense of relaxation and were very soothing for us all.
How you decide to feed your baby is your personal choice. However, if you are considering breastfeeding, I found breastfeeding classes very helpful, as they gave me an insight on how to manage breastfeeding with twins. I would also recommend trying to get into double feeding ASAP with multiples otherwise you’re feeding every other hour, I had a great system for night time using a bottle heater beside the bed, due to the number of bottles (20 per day for twins) is was invaluable, as it meant I didn't have to wait for the kettle to boil.
Trust your Instincts
Finally, trust your instincts and don’t allow other people to persuade you to into changing your mind when it comes to you and the welfare of your baby or babies, listen to your gut! Everyone's instincts are different, what works for one parent doesn’t necessarily work for another. Babies all work differently, what my son needed during the first few months after birth was completing different to what my daughter required. You will know what do.