So you have had your baby and things are starting to feel more in control and you feel brave enough to go away for the weekend… perhaps you have planned this or maybe some over-zealous relatives have demanded your attendance.
Either way here are a few tips to help the weekend go smoothly.
For a few days before you go away, see how many nappies and wipes/cotton wool you use so that you have an idea of how much to take with you. Make a list of all the things you use so you remember to pack them all.
Take the baby’s bedding with you and if not, the Moses basket for sleeping. The baby may be unsettled by being in a different environment but if the bed is the same or the sheets smell the same this can help them to settle better.
A double coloured blanket is always handy to have – put the designated “dirty”colour down and always the same“clean”colour up so you always have an emergency surface to put the baby down on that you know is clean.
Pack enough outfits for the number of days and nights you are away and try to select outfits that are interchangeable – if you need to change the baby’s top due to a messy feed, then you don’t want to be rummaging around looking for something that will match – you will be very proud of your baby and may be doing a little showing off to relatives or friends so you want your little one to look their best!
Pack a few spares of everything – you don’t want to be running out of clean clothes or waiting for damp clothes to dry!
Your pushchair or pram allows for trips out in the fresh air … if you have space, take it with you. When you get back to where you are staying after a walk, leave the baby in the pushchair if they are asleep rather than transferring them to their bed. Remove hats or any extra blankets so the baby doesn’t get too hot. But avoid leaving your baby in a car seat for too long as this is bad for their back and also they can become too hot.
When you get to your destination, set things up as if you were at home – have a changing station and a feeding station so that when you reach for a clean nappy or the wipes/cloth/cream that you use, they are easily accessible and you don’t have to leave the baby to go rummaging through a bag to find anything. Similarly when feeding the baby, all your creature comforts are in the right place. This is particularly important if you are breast feeding so you can focus on latching the baby and achieving maximum milk transfer so the baby and you get maximum rest / sleep between feeds.
Try to stick to your normal routine– if the baby needs to feed don’t delay it as this may result in not enough eating in the day that may be compensated by extra night feeds… also in the early weeks if you are breast feeding, delaying the feeds can result in engorgement as the milk hasn’t been removed regularly.
Hand washing before holding the baby is the best advice, but purell is invaluable for you and others if you are out and about. It is ok to ask anyone who wants to hold your baby to wash their hands first. Blame it on an anonymous healthcare professional – “my health visitor says I must ask you to wash your hands before you cuddle the baby.”
Try not to pass the baby around too much. The baby will appear calm when being cuddled by others but they are often awake even if their eyes are closed. Later that night they can become unsettled if they haven’t had enough sleep in the day. If the baby is asleep then try to leave them sleeping and not pick them up to have an obligatory cuddle with a relative desperate to say they have held the baby.
Be realistic about how much traveling you can do – a relaxing holiday weekend in one destination is easier than driving round relatives – if possible ask them to travel to come and see you at someone else’s house rather than you going to them.
Plan activities around your baby. This is your first trip with your baby so don’t be too ambitious in what you try to achieve. You don’t want to make yourself more exhausted, especially as your baby is probably still feeding at least once at night.
About the Author
Beth is a midwife and a lactation consultant. She has been delivering babies and helping families since 1990. She has worked in hospital settings and attended home births working for the NHS, a private hospital and in private practice. She believes passionately that women have the right to the birth experience of their choice, be it a home birth or a hospital birth, a water birth or an elective caesarean so long as it is informed choice. She has the responsibility to help the woman and her family have the information they need at a level that is right for them to help them to make choices and provide the best care possible for their baby.
Her private practice provides confidential independent support for women in their homes for antenatal classes, postnatal midwifery care, breastfeeding and parenting support. From her experience of assisting high profile families, she endeavors to ensure that they have as “normal” an experience as possible without having to worry about what the carer may think. It is important to her that the family feel comfortable enough to trust her to ask any questions no matter how small or personal, while gaining confidence in their ability to care for their baby.
She will help you find a feeding strategy and approach to parenting that is realistic and right for you and your baby, leaving you feeling empowered by the choices you make and able to enjoy this precious time. She believes that happy babies have happy parents.