Hi, I’m Jess Newman and together with my husband Rich, we welcomed our first child, Harry, in November 2019. Welcoming a baby into the world is one of life’s greatest joys. At the same time, it can also be the most challenging, especially for first time parents. Getting to know your baby and its needs, the journey of feeding, sleepless nights and countless nappies in between, it's a whole new world to us. Add to this, being an expat without the support network of family around you makes it all the more challenging.
Trying to navigate life with a newborn has meant learning to ask for help when needed and accept it when offered. I’ll be the first to admit that I thought I could manage my way through these early stages of motherhood with only the support of my husband. I was quick to realise that this change in our life was extremely demanding and overwhelming at times. So, for anyone about to be first time parents, here’s a few things that have helped me survive those first few weeks.
I was fortunate to have my parents fly in to stay with us and offer an extra set of hands. This meant between feedings, I had the opportunity to rest and rest properly without worrying if the baby would stir or wake at any time. If you don’t have an extra set of hands though, its true what they say, sleep when the baby sleeps.
There’s a number of post-natal services available to us here in Singapore. Breastfeeding has been a challenging journey and checking in with a lactation consultant has helped me build my confidence and overcome a few hurdles to establish a good routine. I've had good experiences with Mother and Child at Tanglin so I recommend dropping into their clinic when you need it. This network was crucial for me in the first few weeks to answer all of my questions, check on the baby’s health and discuss feeding, sleeping and emotional wellbeing.
Lower your expectations when it comes to housework. Being an organised person, I liked to have the housework in order and jobs ticked off every day. But life with a newborn means no two days are the same so it's ok to let that pile of washing build up and have those dishes sit in the sink – you’ll get to it in time. Remember, the baby is your first priority now so don't be so hard on yourself.
Your wellbeing is so important at this time. You’ve been through labour and delivery so take care of yourself. Go outside for fresh air each day, nourish your body with good food (meal prep in advance if you can) and stay hydrated. It can also be a long and lonely day at home on your own so welcome those visitors at your door. Even half an hour of adult conversation or a ten-minute walk in the humidity can do a world of wonder.
It really does take a village to raise a child!