When I was pregnant my friends with bubs were so nice - each of them said “if there’s anything you want to know, just ask”. There was only one problem… I had no idea what to ask.
After I had Davie, my friend Torie was in her second trimester. I asked her “Do you want me to tell you all the things I didn’t know I should have asked?”
Here’s a list I wrote for her, a list I’ve since shared with several other friends. It’s not glamourous. It may even be on the boring side. But damnit if it’s not some handy boring information!
In the early days you will be feeding your bub every 2 hours during the day and every 3 hours overnight. This is only really for the first few weeks so don't be daunted at the prospect.
My hot tip is practice practice practice in hospital. Ask every single midwife for their tips. If you don’t like a particular midwife, shout “next!” and show her the door! If you find one you get along with, ask her to hang with you awhile.
Here are my hot tips for a good latch:
- Your bubby's tummy should be parallel with your own, he shouldn't have to turn his head to find your nipple. To help with this I used to position my arm between his legs and hold his neck while my little finger was positioned under his armpit.
- Squeeze out some milk and rub it from his nose-mouth-chin so he gets a hankering for “nom time”
- Skin-2-skin will also help if, like Davie, your bubby is a bit clueless as to what he should be doing!
- Don't press his head towards the nipple, he will resist
- Ensure he is positioned with an "open throat", chin away from chest - think about the position your head is in when you drink from a glass. If you line up his nose (rather than his mouth) with your nipple then he will have to open is mouth nice and wide. And then BAM! Nipple him! Pressing the middle of his back gently will also aid this.
- Clenched fists and open eyes often indicate a good latch - he's all business and very determined! Then he may drift off to sleep once full.
For some reason some midwives in hospital say nowadays that breastfed babies don’t need burping. Well, why was my bub full of air then? Check out this guide.
After your bub arrives, chances are you’re going be exhausted already. Add to that the feeding around the clock and you might need toothpicks to hold those eyelids open! My husband and I worked in tandem so that we each had our turn sleeping. There’s really no need for you to both be awake all night long, share the load.
We did our babying in shifts! In the early days I would go to bed after dinner (after feeding Davie around 7.00pm) and then wake up at 10pm. I would then look after Davie from 10pm - 5am, snoozing when I could while my husband got a proper sleep.
Paul would take Davie at 5am (tummy full from his 4.30am feed) and then give him a bottle of expressed milk at 7.30am, I would wake at 9.00am and express for the following morning's bottle feed before feeding Davie again at 10.30am. Doing this allowed me to have around 6 hours of uninterrupted sleep per day along with whatever naps I could grab throughout the day and night and Paul would get around 7 hours. There’s no single way to manage this, just communicate with your partner/helper and find your groove.
If you want to save cash the manual pumps are very effective.
If you want to splurge and have the option to do hands free expressing then go for the Medella double pump. Medella is the brand that the hospitals use and is widely regarded as the best. This is the one we have.
Don't bother with a single pump, time is of the essence and the trepidation I felt about it feeling a little too "Bovine" went out the window! Ha!
You can also hire them if you choose not to buy.
For hands free pumping you can make your own expressing bra by cutting holes out of an old sports bra - no need to buy one of these fancy things.
There is no need to sterilize if you're bottle feeding using breast milk. Simply wash with warm soapy water and allow to dry on a rack. Store clean components in a sealed Tupperware so they don't get dusty or have flies land on them!
Storing expressed milk
Expressed milk can be kept out of the fridge at room temperature for 6 hours or stored in the fridge for 3 days - we wrote the date and time of expressing on masking tape and popped it on the bottle to keep track.
Tiny new bottoms often can’t handle baby wipes. Cotton balls and warm water are so much gentler than wipes. Baby wipes tend to drag and can hurt brand new little bot bots - keep them for outings only and for when your bub is a few months older.
Belly Button Care - Keep a bowl of water with a splash of Dettol in it by the nappy change area and clean your bub’s button at every nappy change. This will stop it getting infected while you’re waiting for the umbilical stump to drop off.
Download some Apps before you have your bub.
MamaBaby is great for keeping track of feeds and (in the early days) nappies. The midwives will tell you how many nappies to expect in the first week. In our case, Davie wasn't making enough nappies so it was vital to keep track and ensure they were increasing. Nappies = good feeding
The Wonder Weeks is a remarkable insight into developmental "leaps" and the signs that your bubby is going through them. I have had 3 different friends recommend this App and tell me how amazingly accurate it is! Knowing that sometimes your baby will cry for no reason is very reassuring that you're caring for them appropriately (i.e. you're not doing anything wrong!) and that all they really need is to be held and loved right now while they cry.
Stuff you just need
Buy a pack of old fashioned cloth nappies from Kmart - SO handy for all manor of babiness! Burping/spit ups/nappy changes.
While you’re at Kmart - buy a big packet or two of face washers also! I don’t know about your house, but we had NO face washers! You need them for bath time.
Online grocery shopping
I can't recommend this enough! Don’t worry about going to the supermarket in the first few weeks/months, just chill with your bub while a nice delivery person brings everything right to your door.
Coles has free delivery on Wednesdays when you spend over $100. Make sure your order is in on the Sunday before so you secure these popular time slots.
Write it on the fridge with a white-board marker and if people visit and ask "is there anything I can help with" you can simply say "choose something off the list" - it's less awkward than asking people to fold your laundry!!
Good luck mummas. You got this!