Our first few days together
I know this is going to sound a little weird/silly but I still can’t believe you are just left to look after your baby by yourselves hours after they are born! That was one of the main things that appealed to us apabout a home birth, the fact we would already be at home by ourselves instead of potentially in hospital for a short while. But, still, the prospect of looking after little Hudson alone was still rather daunting initially!
You should have seen us trying to dress him in his first outfit after the midwives left us. It was like a scene from a comedy show! Apparently 1 baby + 1 vest + 1 sleepsuit + 2 nervous new parents = the longest it’s ever taken to dress anyone ever! We were both so scared about hurting him by putting his arms and legs through the clothes, especially since his little legs were all curled up and he was unwilling to help us out at all! Needless to say we are much better at it now and there is less crying each time we get him changed.
The day after he was born we had visits from my Mum, sister and nephew in the morning then four of our best friends in the evening. We had already agreed that we would be very strict about the number of visitors in the first few weeks (partly to let us all settle in as a new family unit and partly so Sam could make the most of being with us during his paternity leave) but we definitely wanted all of our family members to meet him before everyone else started coming round. It was lovely to see everyone that first day but I have to admit I did find it a bit overwhelming as we were just trying to get used to breastfeeding and I found it a little daunting doing so in front of so many people!
Hudson still has lots of our friends to meet so I’m hoping we’ll get lots more visitors over the next few weeks now that we are a little more used to our new family set-up.
They tell you at your antenatal classes that it is perfectly normal to feel emotional in the first few days thanks to a dump of new hormones and getting used to all the changes. I was mostly OK really apart from a few tears one night when my milk was coming in as I was pretty uncomfortable and tired.
What we weren’t expecting was Sam getting full-blown baby blues in the second week of his time off. He was struggling with the broken sleep he was getting (I think having a long sleep with lots of interruptions can sometimes feel worse than my situation which was little bits of sleep in between long periods of being awake and feeding Hudson) and I didn’t even change a nappy until Hudson was 5 days old so I think he had just burned himself out. Sam can be quite a stressed person at times anyway and there was a sudden change in responsibilities in the house in that he was literally waiting on me hand and foot with meals and drinks, not to mention endless cups of tea for visitors so it was completely understandable that he had a bit of a wobble. We weren’t really told about how much the first few weeks could impact the dad so I hope this helps other couples and dads to prepare a little more for the first few weeks after the birth of their child.
Feeding, feeding, feeding…
It was never really a question as to how I was going to feed Hudson. We had both been really amazed at the huge benefits of breastfeeding when we learned about them at the antenatal class and we were equally shocked at the difference between the nutrients in formula vs breastmilk – i.e. how much formula we’d have to feed him to ensure he get all of the nutrition he needs. I know everyone makes their own choices based on what works best for them but I was hoping that we could get on well with breastfeeding.
My older sister had been really helpful with telling me all about breastfeeding as she had just finished doing so for 6months when Hudson was born and she had found it much harder than she had expected. So I felt as prepared as I could be for what it was going to be like. However, I didn’t realise just how much time I’d be spending feeding Hudson all day and night. You read everywhere about people feeding “to a schedule” of every 2-3 hours but we had been told that I should feed “on demand”. This basically means I offer him a boob whenever he wakes up or fusses. That means he is being fed almost constantly for hours on end every day. He did seem to get into a bit of a routine of sorts for the first two weeks of cluster feeding (2-3 hours of constant feeding) in the morning, sleeping for 2-3 hours at lunchtime then cluster feeding again around tea time, another 2-3 hour sleep then cluster feeding from midnight/1am. That has changed a bit now but you can’t expect any sort of routine for the first month or so anyway so I think we just had a lucky couple of weeks!
Luckily Hudson has taken really well to breastfeeding and we’ve had no issues with him latching on at all even when my milk came in on days 2 and 3. I wasn’t quite expecting those few days to be so painful thanks to very swollen boobs but it was short lived thank goodness. The thing I have found hard at times is feeling that feeding him is all I am doing. I’ve never done a lot of sitting down and doing nothing, I struggled with that during my maternity leave before he was born. I’ve especially been struggling with feeling I’m not doing any cleaning/tidying or cooking but, the reality is, you just can’t do any of that whilst feeding on demand – it’s practically impossible. I mean, I feel grateful that I’ve managed to have a shower and wash my hair every couple of days as he’ll stay calm and settled with Sam for around 20minutes on a morning between feeds!
This adjustment to not being able to do or plan anything has definitely been the hardest for both of us. We’ve already had whole days in the house as we couldn’t get a walk in due to Hudson either constantly feeding or me sleeping when Hudson is. We’ve also had to pull into a petrol station 5minutes after leaving the house for me to feed him for 40minutes! But it is all worth it as I know how amazing breastmilk is for him and it is very calming for both of us as well as a fantastic way to bond. My sister recommended following The Milk Meg on Facebook and leant me her book Boobin’ All Day, Boobin’ All Night which has been invaluable and I would urge any new mum or mum-to-be who is planning on breastfeeding to read it.
Social Media Embargo
I’m not giving myself a Facebook ban, how else would I get through all the late night feeding sessions!? But we decided early on in my pregnancy that we didn’t want to put photos of the baby on Social Media as, no matter what privacy settings you select there is a good chance anyone in the world could see them. My friend told me about an app called Lifecake that allows you to share photos privately with select family members and friends. You can all upload photos, comment on and “love” the photos so it’s very much like Facebook in that respect. And it automatically puts the photos in chronological order based on the baby’s date of birth and you can click a button and see a cool slideshow video of their life. All in all a great option for those not wanting to fill their public profiles up with photos of their child!