So you've left the hospital with your new baby and you're probably bubbling with nerves and excitement! For the first few weeks after you've given birth, you'll be getting to know your baby's needs, learning how to be a new mom and possibly welcoming lots of excited visitors too! Whilst settling into a routine is important, the best thing you can do at the start is be led by your baby and cope just as well as you can. Once you've got a couple of weeks or so under your belt, then you can start building in a routine.
Follow your newborn's routine
Babies follow their own routine, sleeping and eating when their bodies need it, so trying to dictate a routine can be difficult. Instead, you can try to differentiate between night and day by adjusting the way you feed and interact with your baby depending on what time of day it is.
Don't worry too much about sticking to a rigid schedule but a daily routine is good because it helps you give your baby stability and enables you to plan your day better – giving you the rest you need. It's also about having the confidence to listen to your own intuition – most mums know instinctively what's right for their baby but are worried about following their own gut instinct. Try to watch your baby and you'll gradually get used to what they need – whether it's time for a feed, a nap or even just a cuddle!
Look out for your baby's daily pattern
It'll probably feel as though your baby is changing their habits every day to begin with but you'll soon notice that these will change from week to week and then every two weeks. Every baby has their own pattern and it's important to watch how their habits relate to each other.
If something seems to be wrong, it's usually because your baby's natural pattern has been interrupted in some way, so just take another look at things and perhaps try making sure that they are feeding well at regular intervals. Often, once you get their feeding pattern sorted out, everything else will follow! Your baby will be contented because they have a full tummy and will sleep well rather than dozing. So when the time comes to wake up, they'll be refreshed and ready for anything!
Establish your own routines
It's natural to have your own way of doing things so why not make the most of having an individual routine when looking after your baby? For instance, when you change a nappy at home, you could have your own special changing space with everything you need to hand and perhaps a hanging mobile above your baby's head to give them something to look at while you change them.
When you bathe your baby you could line all the bits and bobs up that you need and create a special bath-time environment to make things easier for you and safer for your baby. Having everything ready with a particular order in how you wash your baby will stop them from getting cold and will help remind you which bits you've cleaned!
You can even have your own routine for feeding – choosing a comfortable chair, getting yourself a glass of water ready and a muslin square or cloth for when you burp your baby afterwards. Doing little things like this each time will help you form your own natural pattern as a mum, make caring for your baby easier (you'll be able to pay more attention to them) and enable you to feel more relaxed and in control. It might mean a bit of preparation to begin with but you'll soon get used to picking everything up that you need and turning daily routines into some proper bonding time!
Ask for help
Finally – nobody is judging you or expecting you to be perfect. All mums need help from time to time – some more than others – so if there's anything you want to know, just ask for advice from doctor.
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