With a few friends about to pop out their first (and consequent) babies, I’ve been thinking about birth and what life is like after having a baby. As one of the first in my group of friends to have children, I sometimes wish I’d had someone close around to tell me all of this, so below would be my advice to my friends (and my lovely readers) about to embark on the crazy journey into the Wilderness:
1. First up, there is no such thing as ‘too many’ maternity pads. You will always go through so many more than you think you will… and you’ll find that your partner now brings home a bag of pads instead of flowers for you. Who says romance is dead, eh?!
2. There is also no such thing as ‘too much’ tea or cake. Losing the baby weight should be the farthest thing from your mind as you enjoy newborn squishes, so eat the cake. The tea will help all manner of problems too, ranging from sleep deprivation to emotional, hormonal tears. Because, even if you’re not usually a crier, there will be many of the latter.
3. If someone you trust is kind enough to offer to have the baby while you nap, bathe, or just go to the toilet by yourself, accept. Of course you’ll feel like your heart is breaking by not being in the same room as your bundle, but it will do you the world of good. I promise.
4. Nothing can ever prepare you for the sleep deprivation. Not even your pregnant bump keeping you up in the night. Sorry! But know that I am always here for Mumpathy on this matter. Especially at 3am.
5. Don’t push yourself to try to get back to ‘normal’, because I’ll be honest, your ‘normal’ has now changed. This is especially true when you have your second or any consequent children; you thought leaving the house with one child was bad enough, try leaving the house with your first child AND the Baby…
6. Don’t beat yourself up if you’re still in your pyjamas at midday. And you’re three months into Parenthood. It’s a BIG change, and some days getting dressed isn’t high on your list of priorities once you’ve spent the morning cluster feeding…
7. Also, if you are breastfeeding, you’ll probably find yourself wandering around the house with your boobs out. You are a beautiful Goddess, embrace the nakedness because it’s far easier than whipping a tit out every 10 minutes. Just don’t forget if the postman knocks on the door…
8. Be kind to yourself if your birth didn’t go to ‘plan’. If you’re feeling traumatised by your birth, please talk to someone – your birth experience IS important, and don’t fob yourself off with “Even if I didn’t have a positive birth, at least my baby is healthy and well.” YOU are important too.
9. Take each day as it comes. If you’re having a bad day, breathe, drink tea, eat cake, and remember that tomorrow is a new day. It doesn’t matter if you didn’t make it out of the house, or out of your pyjamas, or if you spent the day binge watching Netflix and the house is a mess. You grew a human, remember? Your amazing body grew that human. You rock. And you deserve to rest.
10. Motherhood is hard. But believe me, you are doing a brilliant job.