What to expect in the first three months with your baby

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  • Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge
    Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge
    Wife of Prince William, Duke of Cambridge

From those first nappy changes, baths and projectile vomiting incidents to venturing into the outside world in sole charge of a pram, scary moments come thick and fast when you’re a new parent.

In fact on bad days you could probably give Stephen King a run for his money.

However many books you flick through or people you speak with, nothing can really prepare you for parenthood, but one thing you quickly learn is the art of compromise.

‘Perfect parenting’ only exists in films. Pretty much all of it is by turns utterly confusing and terrifying at first - things you thought you’d find easy are tricky, while others you might adapt to quickly.

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There’s no real science to it, and just getting through some days with only half a bottle of wine at the end will be an achievement.

So spare a thought for Kate Middleton and Prince William as they prepare to embark on first-time parenthood with the eyes of the world upon them.

As mum to two-year-old Imogen I remember the highs – when she finally started putting on weight having lost several pounds after birth, her first smile, being my sister’s ‘bridesmaid’ at seven weeks old.

And the lows – when I turned around from grabbing some baby wipes to catch a glimpse of her rolling off the edge of the bed.

But the good news is that even the experts second-guess themselves, so Kate will be in good company when it comes to crippling self-doubt and nerves. In fact they’re a given – along with the stretch marks.

Dawn Kelly is a paediatric nurse, health visitor and baby and child sleep counsellor with more than 20 years’ experience. She’s also mum to three daughters aged nine, eight and four.

‘When I became a parent myself I started to do my job as a health visitor differently in some ways,’ she admits. ‘You realise that things are a compromise and the advice I give tends to now take that into consideration!’

Trust your instincts.
From the moment you fall pregnant everyone feels they have a right to comment on everything from the size of your bump to whether or not you choose to breastfeed – and this will be much worse for poor Kate.

I well remember a cashier in Marks & Spencer telling me my scan was ‘wrong’ and I was in fact having a boy, and the woman who cut me dead at the supermarket for daring to purchase formula milk.

‘Kate’s going to have everyone criticising or commending every single thing she does as a mum, so it’s absolutely essential that she trust her instincts,’ Dawn says.

‘You automatically assume that someone else has all the answers and feel scared of making a mistake but if something doesn’t sit comfortably with you as a mum don’t do it.’

Confidence comes with time.
As Kate takes time to get to know her baby she’ll feel more assured as the weeks pass but she can expect to feel out of her depth at first.

Dawn says: ‘Going to stay with her mum Carole in the first few weeks is a really good idea as she’ll have people around her who she trusts.

‘It’s been reported that she plans to be very hands on but if she does get help it should be with everyday things so she can concentrate on her little one.’

Rest when you can.
Once you’re over the initial shock of those first few weeks at home it can be tempting to think you’re ‘super mum’ by trying to get every job done while your baby sleeps.

I can recall sticking on a wash, doing the dishes, tidying up then making myself a snack and hearing Immy’s first cries as I finally sat down to eat. Sure Kate’s ‘jobs’ are more likely to involve charity work and letter writing but she shouldn’t put pressure on herself to get anything else done.

Even if Kate and William produce a brilliant sleeper she’ll find motherhood absolutely exhausting so she’ll need to eat and get some shut-eye whenever the opportunity arises.

‘Equally Kate shouldn’t feel afraid to say ‘no’ to people who want to come and visit early on if it all gets too overwhelming,’ Dawn advises. ‘Everyone wants to cuddle the baby and it can actually be too much stimulation for them. The last thing you need to worry about is making endless cups of tea!’

Let the baby lead.
For the first three months Kate shouldn’t expect the baby to reach any markers and should let them set the routine.

‘I would suggest trying to encourage her baby to know the difference between day and night early on,’ Dawn reveals. ‘During the day be outside and a bit noisier and at night leave it dark and have a quieter, calmer atmosphere.

‘Let the baby sleep when tired, and feed every two to three hours. When you’re breastfeeding people say to feed ‘on demand’ but this doesn’t mean every time the baby cries otherwise they’ll just be snacking every 10 minutes and you’ll be going slowly mad!’

Be honest.
Becoming a new mum is unbelievably hard and first babies are a massive shock to the system – but talking honestly about how you feel can really help.

‘Kate always comes across as very together and there’ll be an expectation that she’ll simply copy because she is so capable – but in my experience it’s just these sorts of people who find being a mum even harder than most,’ Dawn reveals.

‘The best advice is to say when you’re having a bad day and don’t be afraid to ask for help. As a new mum you must be kind to yourself.’

For more information visit: www.sleepthroughdawn.co.uk

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