Bringing your newborn home, let’s keep it real.

Posted by on Apr 18, 2016 in News/Articles | 1 comment

This past month I have been talking to many mums who are struggling to cope with caring for their newborns. It’s a pretty intense learning curve in the first few months, particularly if it is your first baby.

During pregnancy there is lots of accessible, valuable support and advice available from health professionals and your planning will include where you will deliver your baby and your chosen birth plan. A common theme in the feedback from mums is that the birth plan can be the part of the journey that doesn’t quite go to “plan” and may result in some intervention to ensure a healthy baby and mum.  If this is the case it can change your physical ability to manage a new baby when you go home. Speaking with many mums the feedback has a common theme.  It can be the start of an unfamiliar feeling of loss of control and free fall in this new role and journey as a parent.

Maternity wards are not conducive to sleep. If you are breastfeeding then you will be feeding every few hours or more around the clock and this may normally take up to an hour each time as your newborn will be sleepy and you are both learning the ropes. Breastfeeding teamwork and getting to know each other takes time and practice. And you may receive different advice from the nurses with each new shift, confusing to know which advice suits you.

Dad nursing Baby imageTime for hospital discharge and taking baby home.

This is when you and the the real world meet face to face and the intensity of caring for a new baby starts.  And maybe this precious baby has been planned for some time and the enormity of her anticipated arrival can be overwhelming. It’s exciting and exhausting, a rollercoaster ride like no other. Emotional support and understanding is so important but not always readily available in today’s busy and high achieving world. Family support is not always nearby.

Dads are often expected back to work within a week.  Guilt is a debilitating feeling for both parents. Dads (also sleep deprived and unsure what their parental “task” list involves) feel guilty for leaving their wife and baby at home on their own. Mum may need to touch base with dad at work for reassurance/support. Dad needs to sleep at night if possible so that he can function and be “present” at work. Understandably mum needs some respite or support  with the overnight feeds and settling baby. This new routine is a lot to contend with and teamwork becomes really important so you can allow each other some respite.

It is normal for your baby to feed often day and night for the first 6-10 weeks, particularly if your baby has been born early or the birth has been complicated.  And I mean every few hours…and it is normal that it can take up to an hour from beginning to end of the feed. Your newborn will be sleepy and regularly fall asleep at the breast, their most favourite place on earth. And it can be really challenging to keep them feeding through the fore and hind milk which will help them settle whilst stimulating your supply. And they need frequent and small amounts to begin with as breast milk is meant to digest easily.

So you cannot expect your baby to find a “routine” for the first few months. After 6-8 weeks research shows that your baby can distinguish between night and day. So you can begin to establish some daily consistent rhythms to the end of “day” bath and feed to sleep.

It is well within normal expectations that your newborn will have unsettled periods every day. And those unsettled periods will often shift to different parts of the day and night. Their only way of communicating or signalling their needs to you is crying. And it takes time,  practice and confidence to understand and read their “cues” so you may successfully respond to their needs. If your baby is crying and distressed then hold them close to soothe and calm them. Leaving them in their cot to cry serves no purpose other than unnecessarily distressing you both. Your baby is crying for a reason, it is not behavioural. The skill is identifying the cause of your baby’s distress and needs.

There may be loads of well meaning advice from the internet/mother’s forums/ friends and family that may have worked for them and their babies very well.  But this may not suit you, your parenting beliefs  and your newborn’s temperament.

If needs be choose one or two trusted advisers combined with your wonderful maternal instincts and enjoy your baby.  When you can take a breath, take stock of your changing priorities and let some “stuff” go. Accept any food deliveries, offers of shopping or support and short home visits from vaccinated family and friends in good health!

Love, patience and emotional and physical resilience are the foundations for this wonderful and unique new relationship. But if you need support and help, professional or otherwise, put your hand up and reach out. It’s only a screen tap or phone call away.


This article was lovingly written by Beth Barclay from Mothercraft for Babies

Beth Barclay - Photo low low res

I am  a  registered and experienced Mothercraft nurse and a passionate Service industry professional with over 35 years experience.

I discovered from an early age that my love of babies and children was the beginning of a lifelong desire to help others.  So it was inevitable that my career began training as a Mothercraft nurse with Tresillian Sydney (Royal Society for Welfare of Mothers and Babies as it was known then).

After completing my training at Tresillian Willoughby in 1977 I joined the nursing team at the highly regarded Crown Street Women’s Hospital in Sydney.  I went on to work in Executive recruitment and Hospitality.

10 years ago I returned to my first love of Mothercraft nursing, working privately on a consultation basis with families in their home.

It became obvious that there was a real demand for this “at home” support and guidance  so Mothercraft for Babies was established in 2010.

We now also offer phone or Skype consultations  which offer provide quick and easy access to advice and support anywhere in Australia. .

Our expert Nursing team visit family homes in the Sydney metro, Newcastle, Central Coast areas and we work in partnership with parents. Our nurses are experienced and knowledgeable and their approach is supportive and reassuring.  They will show you age appropriate and gentle, responsive strategies supported by a written plan/guide if needed.

Today we have earned our enviable reputation as a specialist Mothercraft nursing agency by helping hundreds of families learn the skills and gain the confidence needed to truly enjoy the new role of parenting.

Beth Barclay

Founder and Director

Mothercraft for Babies

Ph. +61 2 8221 8877



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