10 common mistakes made by new parents

Handy tips from those who've been there!

We spoke to first-time and new parents, Choi San Chan and Teddy Wray, to discover what really happens to mums and dads in the few weeks after birth.

Get ready for some home truths about breastfeeding, nappy changes, calling the midwife and curiously weighing your new baby.

1. Doubt yourself

Doubting yourself is normal, says Teddy, but don’t give in to paranoia: “Go with your gut feeling, do what feels comfortable for you, and don’t let other people try and tell you what or what not to do.” Choi adds “Don’t compare what your baby to others of the same age, or even what a book, or an article online says they ‘should be doing’. Babies do things when they’re ready.”

2. Dread breastfeeding
For Choi, finding a comfortable breastfeeding routine meant speaking up and seeking help: “Make use of local support and midwives. But use a lactation specialist if breastfeeding becomes really difficult and other support hasn’t been successful. Keep asking for help, it took me almost three months to get the hang of it! If you choose to go on to formula that’s ok too! It’s your choice!”

3. Freak out at the midwife because all their advice conflicts
In the days and weeks that follow birth, you may meet a number of midwives and each one will have a different view on best practice. Before tearing your hair out, Teddy suggests sometimes it’s easier to go with the flow: “Be prepared for each midwife to give slightly different advice, but keep trying until you find the thing that works for you.”

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4. Hanker after chubby cherub babies

If your baby isn’t a bouncing renaissance vision, Teddy reveals that small babies do grow into their chub: “We didn’t realise that our baby would lose weight in the first few days after birth, but it’s all normal.” Choi says: “Don’t be disheartened if weight gain is slow, especially if breastfeeding. It takes some babies a little more time to adjust, but while you might worry, enjoy your baby too. It really does go fast and they change everyday!”

5. Let extreme emotions give you the run around
Choi says her first few weeks were an emotional rollercoaster: “Be prepared to feel happy, sad and really overwhelmed all at the same time.” But you’re not riding the roller coaster alone: “Try to give your partner space,” she says “as both of you can be irritable due to hormones and lack of sleep.” Teddy agrees: “Do everything possible to sleep as frequently as you can because you’re pretty much worried all the time in the first few months, and it’s exhausting.”

6. How can you eat at a time like this?!
Choi recommends stocking the larder to the rafters ahead of birth, because there isn’t time for daily cooking and meal preparation once the baby arrives: “The first few weeks are about survival, so do whatever it takes. We weathered the storm by camping out in the living room, watching a lot of box sets and eating copious amounts of cake! Now we’ve settled into a routine, we have a cook-up and freeze healthy meals. Good friends and family might even make you some, if you ask.”

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7. Allow your spending to get out of control
Choi says: “There’s so much expensive stuff on the market now, so bargain hunting in second-hand sales (like at the car boot, or church bric a brac!) really  saved us loads of money.” Visit NCT Nearly new Sales and Kidsmarket sales to see what you can tick off the shopping list. Teddy adds: “When we buy new things, it’s for safety reasons. The baby’s car seat is a prime example. If you purchase second-hand you don’t know if it’s damaged, or even if it was in a crash.” Familiarise yourself with these safety guidelines and always visit an official retailer.

8. I want alone time

Keeping to yourself is a recipe for isolation. Choi says: “Join groups. Once you’ve had all the visitors, and hubby goes back to work, you can get a bit lonely. Some social events are expensive, and it can end up costing a lot. If you do your research, there are cheaper alternatives at village halls and community centers.” MumsNet have local events listings for new parents to explore.

9. Assume your partner is fine

Teddy reveals his preoccupation with caring for Choi and the baby, meant it was easy to forget about his well being, and the needs of their relationship too. He says: “Don’t forget to make time for your relationship, being a parent is hard and sometimes you do forget about each other.”

10. The first row may get wet

Mums and dads of baby boys will probably get splashed at some point, Choi says “Undo the nappy and put a cloth over the area, quickly! You develop quick reflexes after it happens the first time, ha!”

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