By the time your baby has celebrated their first month in the world, you may start to feel like you’re slowly getting the hang of this parenting caper. Or, you may still be adjusting to the physical, emotional and mental changes that come with a brand new baby; it’s a huge time of adjustment! That’s why month number two is all about getting into a good routine — for mum’s sake, just as much as the baby’s.
One of the biggest mistakes I made when I had my first baby was failing to establish a routine. I didn’t really know what routines were all about and I definitely didn’t understand why they were important.
And honestly? I thought I didn’t want a routine. I felt like having a schedule would bring about a loss of independence. The last thing I wanted was to feel chained to the house, stuck at home between certain times of the day because those were baby’s nap times.
So we avoided a routine and embraced chaos. And it was exhausting.
Your first month as a new mum: What to expect >>
What I didn’t realise is that establishing a routine doesn’t kill your independence — it gifts it to you on a platter. A routine doesn’t have to be about strict timetables, scheduled feeds and rigid naps (unless that’s what you want, for some mums a regimented routine is a Godsend) but it is more about communicating to your baby in a reliable, consistent way so they can learn how to interact with their world.
As Supernanny Jo Frost, author of Confident Baby Care, explains, “Your baby is not meant to be living by a rigid schedule from day one. But a routine does give stability. It allows you to get the rest you need, your other kids to get a piece of your time, and you to keep your relationships going. It also gives the baby time to grow and develop.”
Routines promote sleep
With our first daughter, Lila, we were never consistent or reliable when it came to sleep time. When we put her down for a nap, we would help her fall asleep by either rocking, bouncing or nursing her, or we let her fall asleep in our arms… where she stayed, for the rest of her nap. It was exhausting for her and for us.
Finally, when she was 12 months old, we sought the advice of a wonderful baby nurse who showed us how important it is to be consistent, confident and calm when establishing sleep time routines. Within two days, our little girl was sleeping 12 hours through the night.
Teaching your baby to sleep through the night >>
Working out your own routine, Frost believes, is about having the confidence to “listen to the voice inside you.”
“Mums know what is right. Don’t worry about what other people say you should or shouldn’t be doing,” she says.
Therein lies one of the challenges new mums face: sorting through the bucketloads of opinions and advice you receive from friends, family, well-meaning strangers and baby books. It comes in thick and fast and is almost always contradictory, and cherry-picking the right helpful information without getting overwhelmed is difficult.
Try to come up with your own way of sorting through other people’s advice — changing the subject is a tactic I often use if I’m not in the mood for unwanted child-rearing guidance! — and when comparing notes with other new mums, try to listen and share experiences without questioning yourself and your own decisions.
“Listen to your intuition,” adds Frost. “As a parent, you’ve got to be confident enough to go with your instinct.”
About Your body
Six to eight weeks after giving birth, your body should be almost back to normal. Your uterus is back to it’s pre-pregnancy size by this stage and your hormones should be settling down. You may still experience a little bleeding right up until the two-month mark (this is true for natural deliveries and caesarians), so investing in cheap knickers to get through this period is a good idea!