Nearly seven months into motherhood and I certainly wouldn’t call myself an expert, but I have picked up some tricks of the trade along the way. Would I have done anything differently so far if I could do it all again? In the most part, probably not. But, upon reflection, there are some things I wish I had known already before my bun exited the oven.
It got me talking to other mums about their journey so far. If they could go back to the beginning, what pearls of wisdom do they wish they had been privy to? Their insights were brilliant – so much so that I felt compelled to compile their answers and share them with the world.
So here it is: my ‘motherhood 101’ to help get you through those crazy, early weeks. Thanks for the help if you contributed!
Don’t fret – that baby will come when it’s ready!
Try the old wives’ tales if you must, but your baby will arrive when he or she is good and ready. Ralphie was a week late and in between deep cleaning the house, I tried it all – I even ate a whole pineapple in one sitting. But in the end, he came on his terms, regardless of how many curries or pineapples I consumed, or long walks I went on. You’re allowed to feel fed up and impatient – we all do – but try and relax. Put those feet up for the last time!
The pain of giving birth endures
Ok, ok – you’re rolling you’re eyes and saying “no shit Shirlock – of course giving birth is painful!” But no matter who I spoke to who’d already been through it and no matter how many episodes of One Born Every Minute I watched, nothing could prepare me for the pain. And if you’re yet to experience it, I’m sorry, I don’t even know how to describe it. All I will say is “wow” – it takes your breath away!
But us mums also wish that we’d been better prepared for the fact that things would be pretty painful for quite a while afterwards. I ended up having a c-section, so the pain endured for quite a long time in the end. Give your body as much of a break as you can – tricky when you’re not getting much sleep, I know – and allow it to recover.
Buy maternity pads – and thick ones. You will need them
While you’re at it, you may as well also buy a pack of big pants should the dreaded c-section happen. A friend gave me such advice and I ignored her. More fool me! It’s not fair to send your man out to shop for these things. It’s a minefield for them out there. One mum admitted that her fella came back with breast pads!
You can say no to guests
This one sounds a bit scroogey, but a lot of mums mentioned this and I agree – the initial influx of guests is totally overwhelming. We didn’t say no, and at times it did get a bit much. In hindsight, I think we would have spread the visits out a little more. One mum suggested the total opposite: have a big welcome to the world party and get everyone out of the way in one go! I like your thinking.
You will cry – a lot
I checked – this isn’t just me. I’m a crier – I cry watching films; I cry when I’m happy; gosh, I even cry saying bye to my mum sometimes! Add a few post-pregnancy hormones into the mix and blimey – that’s quite a lethal concoction! Cry away ladies; you’re allowed to. But if it’s all getting too much, please do say so.
Breastfeeding isn’t that easy to begin with
For some mums it’s a bloomin’ nightmare. I was one of the lucky ones, but even I will admit that it wasn’t exactly easy to start off with. Until my milk came in, Ralphie was feeding almost hourly, and it hurt! Pass me the Lansinoh, again.
And if it doesn’t work out, don’t worry. Formula fed babies are happy too! You’ve got enough on your plate to deal with than to be stressing about how you’re feeding your little one. Just get them fed!
Development milestones are a rough approximation
During my pregnancy, I regularly checked an app that told me what was going on inside that bump of mine, and I was totally fascinated. One week my baby was the size of a pea, the next an apple. The app continued after birth and within a week or so I had stopped looking at it altogether. Why? Because I’ve got my baby in my arms now. I can see exactly what he’s doing! And so what if he hasn’t rolled over by the time the app thinks he should have done. As all mums can testify, every child is different.
Sleep is overrated
Just kidding! Sleep is great! I’m just a bit bitter that I haven’t had a full night’s sleep in over six months. Does it bother me? Sometimes it does, and other times I’m happy to just go with the flow. I know a lot of mums whose babies slept through from a few weeks old – you lucky things. And I also know many more whose babies haven’t and still don’t. What are we doing differently? Probably not a lot. Again, refer to the last point: every child is different. They will all figure it out eventually, I hope.
Some days, getting dressed is an achievement
I have a whole new level of appreciation for mothers. When I turn up to our mum and baby groups, I look around the room and think, well done guys – we’ve all made it out the house and we’re dressed! Maternity leave is not the time for taking up a new hobby. If you get a chance then great. But being a mum really is a 24/7 job – no coffee breaks, no lunch breaks and no toilet breaks.
It’s absolutely fine to ring 111
Before my pregnancy, going to the doctors was a very rare occurrence. And then I was hit with regular midwife appointments, trips to the hospital for scans, and so on. It was all a bit of a shock to the system. I have really got my money’s worth out of the NHS this past year!
Since I’ve had Ralphie, I’ve needed the NHS just as much, and a lot of mums have done too. Being solely responsible for a tiny human is scary. If he develops a rash, or spots, or vomits throughout the night, or has a wheeze when he coughs, I want to know that he’s going to be ok. I called 111 for the first time ever the other week when Ralphie kept projectile vomiting. They booked us into an out of hours GP who checked him over and, thankfully, said he was fine. It really helped to set my mind at ease.
You will get through this
I wish I had the confidence I do now, back then. But the only reason I am more confident is because I’ve learned so much already. As mums go, I think I’m pretty chilled, but I’ve still worried, panicked and doubted myself along the way. Many of us have admitted to frequently checking our babies are breathing when they’re asleep (the irregular breathing noises they make don’t help!) and I think I will continue to do that for years to come.
These babies of ours are so precious, but they’re also pretty durable. Trust your gut instinct and you won’t go far wrong. And most of all, enjoy it. I already can’t believe where the last few months have gone. It won’t be long before Ralphie’s looking after me!