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what to expect when having a baby

Having a baby: What to expect in the first 6 months

What to Expect in the first 6 months

Why am I so passionate about making sure that support is available right from the beginning of a parenting journey?
Having had 2 totally different experiences, the first being extremely traumatic with little knowledge or support, I wanted to make sure that others don’t end up going down the same path, and have access to the right support as I did the second time around.
The difference it can make in a parenting journey is unbelievable. Today, I am sharing my experiences in order to help new and expectant parents plan ahead. No one can predict the future, and you can’t know what you don’t know.

Please take a look at this week’s YouTube video or read the transcript below

If you’ve been following me for a while, you’ll know that I am a sleep coach for babies and children, and I support families, in the majority of cases from six months through to about six years old, with their baby or their child’s sleep. However, what you might not realise is I work with families from birth as well, supporting parents on that journey with gentle sleep shaping, and supporting them through what can actually be quite a difficult time, especially if there’s any trauma involved during the birth.

I’ve been meaning to create a course covering the first six months of parenting for a long time  But because of how utterly huge the topic is, I’ve been putting it off, because how do you get something right for somebody who’s never had a baby before and doesn’t know what they don’t actually know? How do you give them all this information that is going to help them on their journey without it being scary but informative enough that actually they’ve got their own toolkit there to help them on that journey?

And it took me a while, but I’ve done it. And the reviews are amazing, absolutely incredible. What’s come back is that this is something that every expectant parent needs. It’s helped lessen the anxieties. It’s helped them realise that a lot of their feelings are valid and normal. And it’s amazing that my personal experiences have been able to help and support families and new families, especially on a journey that they didn’t know they needed support for

My first birth experience

My little girl Sofia, who was born in February 2016, decided that sleep was something that she was not going to do. So I do what I do because of that journey.

But what you might not know is why I’m so passionate about helping from pregnancy through to having the baby and what happens in those first six months of parenthood. And a lot of that comes down to my own personal experiences.

Now, what I need to clarify right from the beginning is this was my experience. This is not necessarily going to be your experience. In fact, it probably won’t be your experience, but it can happen, and it’s good to have your head in a space where you are ready to be able to deal with that if it all doesn’t go the way you hope it goes.

So I’m going to try and nutshell this because otherwise I could talk about this for ages.

Sofia was born in 2016. My plan was a water birth, not many medications, not many painkillers. Everything was going to be absolutely hunky dory.

I’d been told I wasn’t going to be able to breastfeed because of medication. And then I was told, yes, I can. I was like, yes, I’m going to breastfeed, I’m going to do this, all these amazing things.

And guess what?  After 23 hours in labour, they came and said at 06:00 in the morning, we need to get her out now, and 17 minutes past six she was there. So it was a really fast, very emergency C-Section and the whole experience around it was not great. I’m not going to go into detail because you probably don’t need all of that, but it didn’t put me on a great start to our journey as parents and especially me as a mum.

We didn’t get that immediate skin-to-skin. She is rush off. I was dropping in and out of consciousness, possibly because of exhaustion. But I didn’t know this till years later. That was that. We were in hospital for a few nights. She had an infection. We had a massive breastfeeding struggle. They kept coming around trying to help, but she just wasn’t going for it. We had a situation where the nurse was going to give a formula without my consent, which I basically really hit the roof with and it just drove me more to go down the breastfeeding route.

Eventually, I got home and the breastfeeding journey still wasn’t working. I was in a lot of pain, found I had an infection, was then incorrectly told that I needed to stop breastfeeding while I was on antibiotics. So I pumped and dumped for a week while I gave my baby formula for a week, which was not what I wanted to do.  I didn’t know that there was a breastfeeding network out there, medication and support, help out there to help with whether you can breastfeed or not. When you’re on certain medications, you have no idea. So I was just going along with it all.

So things were bad. She isn’t sleeping, she isn’t feeding, and she is latched for hours. And when she was about four and a half weeks old, I went to stay with my mum in Blackpool and my mum’s going, this isn’t normal. This isn’t right. I was thinking, no, but this is what everyone tells me they should be doing. Apparently, it’s fine. Yeah. My nipples are supposed to be cracked, so I’m supposed to be in absolute agony and my babys suppose to be attached to me all the time.

So I thought, no, that wasn’t the case at all. Mum went off and got a dummy, which I was against. But we didn’t really have a choice in the end because it was just desperation. So we put it in and it gave us a little bit of respite. It wasn’t great, but it kind of gave me a little bit of I can put her down and breathe.

And then I remembered the lady that ran the breastfeeding section on my NCT course. So I got in touch with her and she says, Right, when you’re back in Manchester, come and see me. So when Sofia is five and a half weeks old, I went to see her and literally within an hour, she is latched and feeding. That is it sort. I cannot get over how getting the right support can make such a difference. So that was our breastfeeding journey. And after that it went from strength to strength. So for five and a half weeks of absolute trauma to suddenly, boom, everything was amazing. I couldn’t get over it.

It didn’t fix the sleep though. Obviously, we were already in a downward spiral to the point that come July, bear in mind, she was only born in February. Me and my husband were in marriage counselling. We were ready for divorce. Things were that bad because I didn’t know any different. And this is what I need to stress – you don’t know what you don’t know. If you are pregnant and you’re about to have a baby, you can have all the most wonderful ideas as to how you’re going to be. You’re going to be the best mum you can. So maternal, you know what you’re doing. You’ve read all the books.

I did the same. And I just was not ready for what came next.

You know what? Pretty much nearly everybody that comes to me with a baby that doesn’t sleep has had some kind of experience that they weren’t expecting and they’re struggling. It might not be that way for you, and I hope it isn’t. And you know what? I hope the course that I’ve created is part of the reason why you don’t end up in that same situation that me and so many others end up in.

Eventually, we ended up getting help to get Sofia to sleep. And I ended up changing my career, hence why I’m here now.

A better birth

When I had my second baby four years later, she was a category two emergency planned section, so I was meant to have a planned section on Monday, but I went into labour on Sunday. I didn’t want a section, I had decided I was going to have my water birth again. I thought, yeah, everything’s fine. And about 30 weeks pregnant, I found out that I had to have a planned section due to health issues, it turns out I should have had that the first time around, but I hadn’t been given the right information.

And what I didn’t realise until this point is why it’s so important to have your head in a really good place with things and be directed to the right support when you need that support. I didn’t realise until I was told I had to have a second section, the deep scars that were left from the first time around and I just broke down. We broke down into tears. I was like, I can’t do this, I cannot do this, but I didn’t have a choice. And I know that you will always get told there is a choice, but for me, the choice was I either do this and they go down that route or I try to go down the natural birth and potentially tear and become incontinent with my bowel. So, yeah, that’s not really much of a choice.

So I did some digging. I asked around, I found out about natural Caesarean sections and we went down that path. So even though I went into labour the night before, they were incredible. I went in, everything was calm, it was amazing, absolutely amazing. So they’re chatting away to you while they’re doing everything. They dropped the sheet. Alyssia came out and I watched her being born. It was amazing. We got the cord clamping, there was no rushing, and we got immediate skin-to-skin. She is relaxed and feeding within five minutes. I cannot get my head around how different things were, but what I hadn’t realised is how much I had been affected from the first time around until I broke down.

And it turns out I should have had a debrief, which apparently they did do when I was in and out of consciousness. I don’t really remember that she was back to back, but I didn’t know this and she was never going to come out naturally. But it shouldn’t have taken till four years later for me to find this out. It shouldn’t have taken me to be at the point of having a breakdown because of something that had happened four years earlier. There are links out there, there is such a thing as birth trauma counsellors.

Getting Help

There is help available for everything to do with having a baby, but it’s just knowing where to look for it.  That’s the bit that’s so hard. How do you know where to start? It’s a minefield.

Start looking for what to expect in the first six months. Hit that into Google. Your mind is then just blown because there’s just so much what do you trust and what do you believe and what’s right for you?

So this is why the newborn course is created and what to expect in the first six months. If you are pregnant, this is for you. If you have just had a baby, this is for you.

Got yourself prepared. Know how you’re going to manage things in the first few weeks of life? What are you going to do with visitors if you’ve already got a child? How are you going to introduce the baby into the family? What are you going to do? This actually happens in those first few weeks of life. What happens if breastfeeding is a struggle? Where can you get help?

What if your birth hasn’t been the way you want it to be? Where do you actually get help? What should you have done differently? Are you feeling guilty because you weren’t able to do what you plan to do? All these things that kick around but you don’t know until you’ve actually experienced it?

What are these feelings that you’ve actually got? Are they normal feelings, this roller coaster of emotions that you’re suddenly on? Are they normal? Or should I actually be asking my GP for help?

How do I make sure my baby’s sleeping space is safe? Honestly, it’s an absolute minefield. It really is.

Picture of a newborn baby - this image links to the purchase page for the Newborn guide

And I put everything together within a what to expect when having a baby course for you and I’m going to keep adding to this course. The great thing is all the parents who’ve watched it have gone “This needs to be in every single expectant parent’s life because it’s helped alleviate their anxieties, their worries. It’s given them tools and strategies to help them through the first six months. They’re not panicking about this dreaded form of sleep regression that you’ll have heard about. They’re actually going at it and going, do you know what they’re going through? A development. It’s a positive thing. And now I’ve got some ideas about what to do to help them through it rather than getting stuck in it and feeling really anxious about it.”

When parents like your parents, for example, or somebody else around you says you’re spoiling your baby, this gives you the confidence to say, no, I am not, I am not spoiling my baby. I’m giving my baby what they need. So it’s about empowering you as a parent, giving you those tools, helping you get through those first six months, giving you those links to support where you need at a time when you didn’t actually know that you needed that help.

You cannot know that you need help. Your baby is in you at the moment. You have got the most amazing, wonderful visions and keep them, enjoy them because they’re going to help you with bonding, but prepare, know that if things don’t go the way you go them to go, you have access to a range of different support networks to get that help

My Newborn Guide online course costs £39 –  that’s all because the way I work is I don’t want to be available only for the people that can afford it. Everything I do is about making sure that everybody can afford it.

Nobody should be in a situation where they cannot afford help to get through parenting. That’s the same for all of my stuff right through to six years old. Okay, I will help you on your parenting journey. You’ve just got to take a leap with me and trust me because I’ve lived it with two little ones I’ve lived two completely different experiences I have studied under Lindsay Hookway with BabyEm through holistic sleep coaching. I am not about leaving babies to cry alone.

I look forward to helping you on your journey to becoming a parent.