Friends who have children already will tell you that other parents are an invaluable source of advice in the first months of parenting. From help with feeding and advice on sleep methods like the Ferber method (the big stuff!) to tips about the best baby kit, insights from more experienced mums and dads can help enormously. To get these helpful tips from parents can really boost a new mums self-esteem, knowing that they are all in this together to help each other through is a comforting feeling, if you want to learn more about a different type of feeding practice check out the dream feeding faq at best for mums, to see how you can combine two things together to help you on your new journey.
You may find, though, that parents who don’t have arthritis may not understand fully your particular needs, despite their best efforts to try. That’s where the lovely mums of Arthur’s Social can help. For this article we put a shout-out on the Arthur’s Social group forum, on Facebook, asking for tips for new mums, and were overwhelmed with the support that came back.
Here are 30 gems of advice from the Arthur’s Social mums, to get you going. We would also invite you to join Arthur’s Social yourself, if you’re not already a member, to ask for specific tips around your particular area of need. The group will always do it’s best to help, and you can guarantee that these parents know what it’s like to experience not just parenthood, but parenthood with arthritis.
1. “Make sure you rest lots in the first few months. It doesn’t matter how untidy your house is, don’t spend time cleaning, spend it resting.”
2. “Not just related to people with arthritis, but one of the best things we did was batch-cook loads of healthy meals and freeze them, so when the baby arrived, we were eating healthily but not having to worry about cooking. It made a huge difference, especially after having an emergency C-section.”
3. “Don’t decide to buy and fully renovate a house three months before your due date!”
4.“Don’t isolate yourself. Even if you are struggling it’s important to meet other new mums. You need a support network. (I wish someone had told me this!)”
5. “Most importantly for me is to try and stay as positive as possible. Easier said than done, but it definitely helps make difficult situations feel more bearable.”
6. “Enjoy those tiny baby snuggles. As exhausted and vulnerable as you are at that stage, I promise you will miss them later!”
7. “My main advice would be to ignore everyone’s advice and do what’s right for you!”
8. “Remember that it’s not just women that suffer post-natal depression. Make sure your partner has someone they can talk to and confide in too. They may be struggling to adjust to this new life but too scared to admit it.”
9. “Ask for and accept help!!! This is something that I struggle with, but since my diagnosis am trying to be better at.”
10. “When the baby arrives, I’d say definitely take all the help you can get. Partners, family, friends, even a professional like a doula if you can afford it. They can take care of food, housework, etc and let you just focus on the baby.”
11. “With visitors, be as direct and assertive as possible about when you’re happy for people to come, how long you’re happy for them to stay, and what you want them to bring/do. Some people will bring food, make tea, load the dishwasher etc. (the dream). Others will sit on the sofa and expect you to make THEM tea. If you’re clear in advance when planning visits, they’ll know what to expect.”
12. “If you can afford it get a cleaner.”
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13. “Mastering side-lying breastfeeding was a life-saver for me as it meant I could ‘sleep when the baby sleeps’, as everyone tells you to do, but is impossible if they won’t let you put them down.”
14. “I would recommend a good pumping bra. Holding the pumps up causes so much stiffness in your shoulders, arms and hands. I am having to exclusively pump with my baby boy and doing that every 2-3 hours really sets in the stiffness.”
15. I found night feeds tough as ‘morning stiffness’ would kick in after the first few wake-ups. So, my husband would take the baby out of her bedside crib, put her on the feeding pillow for me, then wind her and put her back in her crib when she’d finished feeding. This meant I could breastfeed her without having to lift her. We carried on doing this as she got bigger and heavier too.
16. “Pick your pram carefully. You want one that’s not too heavy, such as a lightweight stroller that is easy to fold, and without hard to fasten/unfasten straps.”
17. “I had an iCandy which was 10kg without a child in it, and quickly became too heavy for my poor wrists to contend with. I now have the BabyZen Yoyo which is much better.”
18. “I have the BabyZen YoYo pushchair and my word do I love it! So easy and light and perfect for people who would struggle with a heavy pushchair.”
19. Test out prams as much as you can, including putting it in and out of your car. A lot of the shops have heavy beanbags to mimic baby weight. Try pushing the pram with it inside, it might change your choice of pram.
Our mums in Arthur’s Social say this about prams, too:
Joie Litetrax – “I found the Joie Litetrax a lifesaver. It’s a one-pull-up handle so folds in half.”
Baby Jogger City Mini – “It can be collapsed with only one hand and isn’t at all fiddly.”
Baby Jogger Mini GT – “The Baby Jogger has a single-handed fold so no fiddly buttons.”
Baby Jogger – “Baby Jogger all the way. I got one with my second child and it was amazing. I couldn’t have done without it. Wish I’d got one sooner.”
BabyZen Yoyo – “I have the BabyZen Yoyo and it’s amazing. I am so very happy with it. Very lightweight, can push and turn with one hand and it is easy to put up and down. And takes up little space in the car.”
20. “Get a car seat which you can turn to face you. It’s much easier for fastening baby into or taking them out of the car. We have a Joie Spin 360.”
21. “Get a rucksack changing bag, although I advise all parents to do that, as a heavy shoulder bag is bad for everyone!”
22. “Slings can be great. If you can join a sling library, you can find out what suits you. I found them great as it distributed the weight across my back and left my wrists free, which was great in a flare.”
23. “Sling libraries are a fantastic way of experimenting with a variety of slings without investing. Ours is £10 a month and is run by NCT. The volunteers that run it are really experienced, so can help you find the right sling for you. For example, I can’t have one with hard to unclip buckles.”
24. “A good baby carrier has been essential for me. I like the Lillebaby as it has the back support, but every person has a different build, so experimentation is key. Try to borrow one before you buy, if you can.
25. I find a fabric sling the most comfortable (I use a Moby wrap) as the fabric sits really wide on your shoulders and distributes the weight more evenly. Plus, there’s no fiddly clasps or anything. I still use it now she’s nearly one.
26. “Have upstairs and downstairs versions of the essentials – such as nappies, wipes, spare clothes, changing mat – so you’re not going up and down the stairs all the time.”
27. “I second the changing table recommendations. It was so much easier to change my daughter at that level than getting up and down off the ground.”
28. “Changing tables are brilliant, to change baby without having to get on the floor. I have a chair next to both of mine (upstairs and downstairs) which helps loads.”
29. Before my baby was rolling, I changed her on a mat on the dining table as it was the right height and I didn’t have space or money for a changing table. Other times I would sit on our bed and change her. She crawled at seven months and walked at nine months, so nappy changes got a lot trickier. We invested in a large padded play mat which was soft for my knees as changing her on the floor became the safest option. I use my forearms to get up and down rather than hands and wrists. It’s not elegant but it works.
30. “If family and friends want to buy clothing, ask for tops and trousers, clothing with zips or bigger buttons as they are easier to dress the baby in. Otherwise you end up with lots of clothes you cannot use. My mother-in-law went to a sewing shop and several nice clothes I liked with poppers changed to have velcro fastenings which is much easier to use”
31. “I would say try and find clothes with zips rather than poppers. It’s just way easier when dealing with a fussy baby and stiffness in your hands. Also, having a change table with everything on it is super helpful. The other thing I would suggest is finding a car seat that is easy to handle. As my baby gets heavier the harder he is to manoeuvre while in there.”
32. “We had a co-sleeper crib (a Chicco) next to me which was a godsend.”
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