Babies are scary and mysterious. But Isabel Mohan is here to hold your hand through those early anxieties...
Ugggggh. Thanks to hormones, sleep deprivation and that crazy all-consuming love, newborns don’t half make us worry. I am not, by nature, an anxious person (a chilled-out entertainer, that's me…), but in those first few weeks of motherhood, I found myself fretting about all sorts of things that my pre-mummy self would roll her eyes at.
But… it’s totally normal. This list could have touched on at least 87 different worries but these are the big ones, the concerns that have every mum of a newborn asking strangers on the internet really specific questions at four in the morning.
1. “The baby is too hot! The baby is too cold!”
When you first bring your baby home, irrational concerns about their body temperature will plague you. My little boy was born during a heatwave but the first time we took him out we had him in three layers and a blanket because… actually, I don’t know why, because we were clueless?
Always remind yourself that your baby is a human being, not a weird otherworldly creature who experiences their environment completely differently from you, and that there are babies thriving around the world in all sorts of weather conditions.
If you’re a bit hot, they’re probably a bit hot too. If you’re a bit cold, they’re probably a bit cold too. Adjust their layers accordingly, just as you would with your own. It’s not an exact science. And the whole "they should wear one more layer than you" thing that everyone bleats at you is a mere guide. Use your common sense, which can be reclaimed down the back of the changing table, under a sick-scented muslin and some discarded breast pads.
2. “They’re feeding too much!”
If you’re breastfeeding, this will drive you mad. I still have manic notes in my phone from last summer, tracking my weeny 6lb-er’s feeds, so I know that when he was six weeks old he peaked at 20 boob sessions a day. It’s fair to say, not much got done. Well, apart from six seasons of Pretty Little Liars and approx 327 packets of chocolate Hob Nobs.
I’ve since learned that it was his cunning way of building up my milk supply and that advice about newborns only feeding every four hours is outdated and potentially dangerous. Just follow their lead, they’re clever little things and as long as they’re gaining weight and filling nappies it’s all good. Plus when they’re older and won’t stay the eff still, you’ll yearn for those long cosy days on the sofa trying to reach the remote with your toe.
3. “They’re sleeping too much! They’re not sleeping enough!”
I know someone who faux-moans that her baby sleeps too much when she’s teething. To which I, and every other parent in the land, screams: GOOD FOR YOU. When they’re tiny, sleeping too much is only a concern if they’re jaundiced and/or not gaining weight quickly. And as for not sleeping enough... it’s mainly because they hate you. Or, you know, THEY’RE A BABY. Just remember, they’ll sort themselves out one day. Probably about a week before you get pregnant again.
4. “Their poo looks weird”
I bet your poo looks weird sometimes too.
There’s a wide range of normalness when it comes to baby poo – googling it’s a bit like a gross version of a Dulux colour chart – but if you’re really worried, you can mention it to your health visitor who will have heard, seen and smelled it all before.
Weird poo without other symptoms is generally nothing to worry about. My little boy’s poo was often green and abundant when he was little (I do hope he stumbles across this when he’s older. Hi Raf! Just remember, Mummy bought you some really cool Duplo with her fee for this piece) but settled when he started on solids, just in time to make way for a whole new list of anxieties around choking and food allergies.
5. “Why do they look so gross?”
I blame nappy adverts and Instagram filters for this. Turns out real newborns don’t all have soft, flawless skin. They all have phases of being spotty, flaky, wrinkly and/or red, and it’s totally normal and a result of living in the luxurious confines of your body for so long.
Always get proper rashes checked out, but the zits and the flakiness are generally just a brief, un-photogenic preview of adolescence and old age.