Tips needed from experienced mums on how to survive/enjoy maternity leave...(58 Posts)
My baby is 12 days old and on Monday my DP returns to work. I'm dreading being at home on my own all day. I'm already feeling a bit trapped by the house and too unconfident with breast feeding and a screaming baby to leave the house on my own.
So, although I'm now very aware that this year 'off work' is actually going to be pretty hard, I'd still like to make the most of it and... if possible... even enjoy it
Pretty much everyone I talk to tells me to sleep when the baby sleeps. I'm finding this virtually impossible during the day. I just can't switch off. And I'm getting around 2-5 hours a night. I think my body is getting used to it.
So what did you do to survive maternity leave? What did you wish you did? Do you have any tips on how to make it an enjoyable experience?
Baby groups and other mums. Find out if there's a breastfeeding group in your area, I've found that to great for getting used to feeding in front of people and learning how to get boob out without flashing for all the world to see.
The sleep when they sleep thing is all well and good in theory but I've never managed it and I think I've just adjusted to the minimal sleep I do get. I'm 4 months in now and am never bored and cannot imagine going back to work - ever. Try to have one thing for each day and build from that.
Honestly? I wish I'd relaxed more!
My advice would be try to find a couple of friends with babies a similar age to socialise with. I found group very difficult. DD is a live wire, wouldn't sit still at groups, showing 'affection' to other babies. Much easier to manage 1:1.
Your local children's centre! There's something on every day that I can go to, get involved with their parent forum you soon get to know people and have lots of fun. I've learnt so much from my Centre and met so many lovely people.
Baby swimming class once a week and regular meets with my nhs ante natal kept me sane at first.
In the early days the most relaxed meet ups re bf etc were at friends houses but by 12wks or so cafes were easy.
Mum and baby groups. I found out where they were and had a list in the fridge of what was on every day. U didn't always go, but I knew they were there if I wanted them. They're not for babies at all - but fabulous support for mums, who won't bat an eyelid about you bf'ing.
I found groups at - Surestart, sports centre, NCT coffee mornings, church halls, libraries.
Also "activity" groups - baby massage, mummy and me Pilates, pram walks, Buggy Fit, baby Swimming (took both dc from about 7 weeks, after they'd had their first jabs).
I met some of my best friends at such groups.
There are NCT coffee mornings all over the country. You don't need to be a member.
Yes definitely check out the local sure start centre.
they'll be able to tell you about other things which are happening locally too. Or try your local NCT, they usually have coffee groups,bf groups etc for new mums..
Is there a cinema near you? Some of them do parent and baby screenings (of films for grown ups!) these are great as you can bf in the dark of the cinema and watch a film with a coffee.
Maybe a baby yoga / postnatal yoga class, a nice way to meet other mums..
Oh and the local library, depends on the area I guess but the one near me has a great selection of activities and groups from tiny baby to toddler, and a book group for parents too..
I cooked loads at the weekend when dh was around and froze into portions so that stopped me feeling under pressure during the week.
Mum and baby, swimming, coffee shop visits daily. I loved it but was getting a bit lonely at the end
Break up the day....plan a morning and an afternoon 'activity'....even if its just going to the supermarket! I felt a lot more in control having a 'plan' for the day / week. The days felt very long otherwise.
I found buying a sling (soft, wrap kind) invaluable. It was really easy to get baby to feed in the sling without anyone being able to see anything, and made getting around much easier. A buggy isn't very easy to get down aisles in shops and is a right pain tbh. With baby in a sling, you can walk anywhere, and carry on with life as normal (if baby's hungry, a quick adjustment and they're invisibly feeding as you sit/walk/chat/whatever).
DO get out of the house - I used to think I had to stay in if my baby was fractious and crying when in fact he just was bored and wanted to get out and see things! With my DD now, we've just carried on with life and she's very happy with that situation - lots of things to see, activity, interest.
Yes, essential to get up and get out the house. If too much baby stuff worries you, or just for balance, try joining a local walking/rambling about club and out the baby in a sling. Mother and baby cinema is good, better once you feel confident feeding, and baby swimming. Finally, and I never did this as I was too anxious but find a gym with a crèche and do done stuff for you!
Baby groups of all sorts! Breastfeeding, baby singing/dancing, baby yoga/massage/ free play/ baby signing/sling meets. Whatever appeals to your interests! They will help build your confidence in those areas! You make friends, set up opportunity for you baby to socialise when older, get some exercise(I walked to a lot of classes). You make friends, do birthday parties/ coffee and cake and share difficulties/ triumphs etc
As another poster said, if you enjoy it, batch cook some food, I like crafty stuff so I made shaker toys/ sensory boards for DS to use when he was older.
It's all a bit daunting at first but it gets more fun as your baby gets more interactive!
Congrats on your new squishy.
For starters, know that it gets better- the newborn weeks are by far the hardest. Once you've got the BF a bit more sorted (normally takes a few weeks), the worlds your oyster. As well as all the baby groups mentioned above, I used to love taking my babies for walks in the sling or pram. If I was really lucky they'd fall asleep and I could nip into Costa for a cuppa (the noise made them sleep better, weirdly).
Take advantage of the days when they're still immobile and transportable and get out and do things you want to do!
The groups made me feel lonelier. Library rhyme time and baby cinema on two days and to something free and cultural another. Went for a walk every day rain or shine. I timed it to avoid public feeds as much as possible until I was more confident. I also saw old friends more. Definitely wish I had spent less time worrying about whether I was getting out enough
It changes so much as baby develops ( congratulations btw) surestart, baby yoga, baby massage...just fining a few mums and a coffee shop with room for a few buggies. What kept me sane was baby cinema when I got into the swing of things at about 2 months.
I was also terrified of DP going back to work but it wasn't as horrible as I thought and I got lots of lovely, gorgeous one on one time with DS which actually helped lots with breastfeeding too.
I aimed to do something every day - not necessarily a group/class, but a small walk if possible, but don't beat yourself up if it doesn't work out because leaving a house with a baby is incredibly difficult (finding a time slot).
Sign up for baby massage, mummy and baby yoga, swimming or whatever takes your fancy. Some classes are even free or massively subsidised. Find a nice baby group. No need to hang round with people you don't like - not every mum will be your cup of tea, so find people you click.
It gets better - about the 3 month mark you see the light at the end of the tunnel, most people seem to find.
BF can be nightmarish.
Make sure you get time to do something for yourself - have a bath in the evening, go out for a walk on your own, go to an adult only yoga class. Take all the help offered and if your partner/parents don't offer, then ask.
Biggest tip for me was that a baby can be tired after only being up about 1-2 hours and needs a nap again. I used to just over-stimulate them, thinking the grizzles were boredom.
Agree it's important to build in some structure routine to break up those long days/ weeks.
Groups were good, breast feeding, mum & baby yoga, stay and play, baby music at the children's centre (free), swimming from a couple of months old, baby cinema, baby massage. Met some mummy friends through bf group, baby swimming & massage...
But also coffee shop / lunches with other mums, art gallery's are free, walks in the park when weather ok
Even taking buggy out to shop entertains baby & gets you out of house.
When baby is small & you are breast feeding a lot, enjoy snuggling up on sofa & watching box sets, series etc.. It goes so quick.
But I found it's also nice to know you are going back to work too, makes you value that time more...
For the first few months take it easy. Catch up on books, tv films etc. Maybe go to some bf groups or baby groups to get used to feeding in public.
When you are more confident you can start getting out more. Babies are pretty portable really, especially if you are bfing. By the end of your mat leave you may well be finding things pretty easy.
Also, I expect at 12 days after birth you are probably still full of adrenaline, it will get easier to relax during the day.
I've just remembered baby cinema - brilliant! Esp for bfers. I would normally feed ds then stick him in a soft sling, pace a bit at the back of the auditorium then sit back down once he was asleep. The occasional film was a two-feeder.
Post natal Pilates was great and run by MWs who were soooo supportive.
Then at six weeks I started buggy bootcamp which was great too. I did a few circuits of the park to get ds to sleep just before the class started.
Lots of great tips above about activities and leaving the house.
Other things to think about:
Showering - when are you going to shower and what are you going to do with the baby?
Food - do you have breakfast and lunch available that you can cook and eat one handed? I used to freeze multipacks of chocolate croissants, take one to bed each night, and it was all ready and defrosted by the time I was ravenous at 4/6/7am.
You may find yourself going to a different supermarket every day. That's ok.
Things will settle down: you will get more confident (in breast feeding and leaving the house) and you will be more able to switch off (and sleep). Also your DD will sleep better and you will get more sleep.
My tip re sleeping during the night is "feed an all out hungry cry", but "try to settle a grumbly cry, whinge" (which can be "unsettled trying to get back to sleep" rather than hungry). A child who is settled when not full on hungry will learn to go back to sleep without feeding. If she is properly hungry then you will know about it.
I would say, look for activities now - like Waterbabies and Baby sensory. They get booked up, so if you look to book now, you can start at their next term (probably mid feb?): you will probably have confidence by then and, if not, the "push" will help. Activities add structure to your day and give you interesting things to do.
How about postnatal yoga or other postnatal fitness? Ones that you can take your baby too and they lie in the middle. Great for you. You can get to know other mums. Everyone is in the same boat!
Do you have an NCT group or other antenatal group?
After the first 2/3 weeks, we would go out for a walk every day. Have a mid-morning feed (about 10), wrap up, then out! Most of the time DS was happy. It gave us both a break, fresh air, me exercise and some structure to our day.
What does your DP do? What time does he leave? When DS was little, we would always have an arrangement where I grabbed a quick shower, washed my face, quickly sorted my hair out before he left for work. Ok, I wasn't "Catwalk ready", but I was "ready for the day". It meant that there was minimal effort for me to go out (just had to put my coat on and get DS ready). Have a changing bag packed always packed and ready to go.
Also - very importantly - what did you like yo do before DD was born? Did you go to the gym, swim, do classes? What would you like to do again? Breastfeeding WILL settle down, you will see patterns and you will be able to identify times when you could pop out and do something for yourself. It is very good to go out and do something just for yourself. (I started swimming/gym again when DS was 7/8 weeks old - at first I felt a bit lost, but it really helped me find me again...).
Consider expressing a little. I expressed one feed a day from 4/5 weeks. DS had one expressed bottle a day - so he was completely used to taking a bottle. Meant DH got to do a feed. Originally DS would do the night feed (4am). If I expressed whilst he changed, fed and settled DS we would all be back asleep in 30 minutes. If I fed and settled DS it would take 2 hours. When DS dropped night feeds (12 weeks), DH would give DS his morning feed (whilst I expressed). Sounds complicated, but it worked. It also meant that we could leave DS with the inlaws and go out by ourselves occasionally...
Enjoy your maternity leave.
Definitely second the expressing - my DS is very distractable when feeding in new places and pops on and off, exposing me to the world! It made me uncomfortable about breastfeeding in some public places so now I take a bottle I'd expressed milk instead. Plus am going back to work when he's six months so needed him to be used to the bottle.
Baby cinema is great too - bf there is a doodle and a good way to build confidence. And everyone is feeding and dealing with crying babies so no one judges!
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