I was given a lot of advice during my (complicated) pregnancy. Some of it was grand. Some of it, though, appears to have been taken straight out of text books without any consideration for the feasibility of its practical implementation. Allow me to elaborate:
“Sleep when the baby sleeps.”
Are you f***ing kidding me?! He spent the first month of his life sleeping in 90 minute stints. Unless I took my bodyweight in melatonin tablets or Nytol, I couldn’t possibly to fall asleep on demand every 90 minutes. And being under the influence of sleeping pills probably isn’t the best advice for a new Mum.
Seriously, no matter how tired I am, I can never, ever, ever simply fall asleep on demand.
I’d switch that advice from “sleep when baby sleeps,” to, “Sleep whenever and wherever you can. And if you can’t sleep when the baby is asleep, no big deal. Don’t beat yourself up about it.”
“Be prepared for him feeding every 3 hours at first!”
Every 3 hours would have been a dream. Try every hour for the first couple of weeks. But to be fair, he was early and a small 5lbs 9oz so his little tummy couldn’t hold a great deal.
It didn’t bother me that he needed to feed so regularly.
And to be honest, at almost 4 months he’s still feeding regularly. Every 2 hour during the day… and so what? He’s gaining weight, catching up and is a healthy baby boy. I’ll feed him as frequently as he needs it.
“It’s going to be so, so hard at first.”
This is less advice and more just comments made by lots of people. And you know what? I don’t think it’s useful. It sets new parents up to be expecting the worst.
Yes, it is hard. But it’s also the greatest experience my husband and I have ever shared. What people didn’t tell me is that for every sleepless night there’d be hours of joy. For every middle of the night dirty nappy change there’d be a phenomenal first – a first smile, or first gurgle. The difficult nights are so compensated for.
“Baby should be sleeping through by 6 weeks.”
I call bulls**t.
If your baby is sleeping through by 6 weeks, then fantastic for you. I’m really thrilled for you. But the majority, it seems, don’t. And my son is amongst the babies that don’t sleep through at 6 weeks. Since he was about 10 weeks, he’s gone down at 7:30, woke at around midnight and woke again at about 3-4am for a feed. Twice a night most nights and I consider that winning.
Setting people’s expectations that their baby will be sleeping through the night at 6 weeks is incredibly unrealistic and until I did my own research, I was beginning to wonder why on Earth my little lad wasn’t settling down for 12 hours straight a night!
“Don’t cuddle him all the time. He’ll get too used to it.”
As soon as he was born I knew I wouldn’t be following that advice. For his first few weeks one of us cuddled him to sleep each time he dropped off. We had plenty of skin on skin time and he was almost always in someone’s arms. You can’t spoil a baby that young and affection is a key bonding thing. We learnt that instinctively. He’s almost 4 months now and despite being cuddled to sleep in his early weeks, now has no problem settling himself down to sleep in his cot at night.
On the flip side, I was also given some amazing advice that I duly followed and benefitted from:
- Say yes to any and all help offered. Both mine and my husband’s Mum spent time with us in the first couple of weeks helping with cleaning and taking Oliver in the morning so I could have a couple of hours’ sleep!
- Between 2 and 3 months, think about putting him down to be earlier in the evening. When we started putting him to bed at 7-7:30, we reclaimed our evenings and it’s something we’ve really benefitted from
- Sod the house work! It can wait…
- Follow your instincts – possibly the best bit of advice I’ve ever received.