Oh man, nobody warned us that being a mum would be like being an executive assistant to the world’s most demanding and irrational boss. As well as the small matter of keeping your baby fed, clothed, rested and entertained, there’s a whole heap of admin attached to motherhood which will keep your diary full over the early months. Here are a few of the “highlights”…
The 6-8 week check
This happens with your GP and is for you AND the baby – it’s to check how you’re healing up (physically and emotionally…) post-birth and to weigh and measure your baby, as well as being a chance for you to bring up any concerns about their health. An excellent chance for you to chat away about all the stuff you’ve been having late night chats about with your mum mates.
Health visitor appointments
Although the schedule can vary regionally, most families will have a couple of home visits in the very early months, followed by checks between 9 and 12 months and then two years. Health visitors can get a bad rap for being unhelpful and out of touch, but try to remember that they are Just Doing Their Job. Plus, a good health visitor is a lifeline, there to help you with anything you might be struggling with.
Some new mums go to the weighing clinics religiously – and not just to keep track of their baby, but just to get out of the house and chat to other mums. You’ll usually leave with an anecdote about your baby peeing all over the scales, plus it’s a great place to get reassurance about feeding, weaning and your little one’s general development. Second time mums are conspicuous by their absence.
Your baby’s vaccination schedule will be in your red book (officially your new mum bible – well, after the Mush book obvs), but generally they start kicking in from about 8 weeks, feel awfully regular for a while, and then tail off. None of them are compulsory, but your GP and health visitor will strongly advise you to take up everything offered. Yes, your baby will probably be deeply unimpressed by being poked with needles, but it’s all over very quickly, and we guarantee you’re more traumatised than they are.
Money money money
Most families are entitled to basic child benefit (what we called “family allowance” in the olden days), but make sure you do your research to find out what else you might be able to claim. Plus, now’s a great time to set up a bank account for your little one, since you’re likely to have received a few cash injections from kindly relatives (well, assuming you haven’t blown it all already on multi-packs of particularly cute overpriced muslins).
You might have just gone on mat leave, but if you’re planning to send your baby to nursery at some point in the next year, you might want to start doing your research now – or you could just bury your head in the sand and freak out in a few months. Waaah!