Here is a list of my TOP TEN TIPS for first-time expectant Mothers. After having my children, these are my favourite tips which I often pass on to friends (or anyone who cares to ask!) during the lead up to that very special arrival.
1. Ok. now lets get our priorities straight. First things first: before your baby is born, take some time out from thinking about cots and babygrows and purchase a little luxury treat for you to enjoy after the baby has arrived. Giving birth is a gruelling, physically draining event and you absolutely need something nice for afterwards. Maybe a nice cosy cardigan or a gorgeous dressing gown. Choose something, then squirrel it away until you come home from hospital. A gift from you … to you, if you will!
(I got myself a new coat for after my baby was born, it meant that I could throw it on over old stretchy clothes and still feel a tad glamourous to the outside world. I think things like that – however silly they might seem- are really good for your post-natal morale)
2. Once you are home with your baby, everyone will likely offer to help, but realistically it’s down to you and/or your partner to do all the baby work at the end of the day, so why not request that any kind gestures from friends and family come in the form of a freshly cooked meal delivered straight to your doorstep!
DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE THE IMPORTANCE OF FOOD when you return home from hospital. Trust me, food is where you’ll get your kicks for some time to come, and when your baby is born you will likely feel starving and tired; you will need to recuperate so don’t forget to nourish your depleted body and build yourself up again.
3. Take what you read on the internet/Instagram etc. with a pinch of salt. As a blogger I am also a prolific reader of other people’s blogs too, and I find that a lot of the bigger, more popular Mummy sites fall into two main camps: The wine drinking sweary criers who actively share their woes on a daily basis to their followers (albeit in a very funny way) This camp tends to make everybody feel better about themselves as mothers. And then there is the glamorous, heel wearing, manicured, supermum camp who seemingly ‘craft’ their entire way through parenting making ‘happy memories’ everyday with their family (albeit through an Instagram filter feat. juxtaposed peonies and perfectly baristered cappuccinos …) The reality for most however, is that parenting a new baby usually lies somewhere in the middle of these new modern stereotypes. And I think It’s super important to remember that both of these commercially popular mothering examples are just that: examples. You will grow and learn to be your own version.
4. If you have a partner, be prepared to miss them a little over the coming months. You just won’t have time for each other in the same way for a while, but that’s ok. You will come back to each other again once the new baby haze has settled. But you will both need to impart equal parts patience and support for one another right now, and the reality is, neither of you are the priority once a baby hits the scene.. It’s a temporary division of time and relationship devotion is all. It’s not permanent, so just relax and allow each other the time to adjust without putting pressure on one another. Date nights and baby free evenings together WILL RETURN!
5. Get out and about as much as possible. This needn’t be something that’s over-planned. Just pop baby in the pram, load it up with a few essentials. Shut the door behind you and let your mind relax while your little person invariably (fingers crossed) falls asleep. It’s the best therapy, honestly. Grab a coffee, window shop or catch up with friends. Staying cooped up indoors for too long leads to a stagnant mind-set which isn’t healthy for you. Plus, all that fresh air helps your baby to sleep which will help build-up your daytime sleep and feed routine. Its win/win.
6. If you haven’t already, join a local NCT group. I am telling you: one of the greatest gifts on earth is knowing other women and couples who are going through all of this stuff at the EXACT SAME TIME as you; the reassurance that you can all take from each other is truly invaluable. I can’t tell you how many middle of the night texts my NCT group sent around to each other during wake periods of despair. Sure, some of those NCT classroom scenarios can be pretty cringey at times, but just grin and bare it. They are worth it; its just so comforting to be able to share feeding quandaries with other people who can totally relate. And things like ‘Help! My baby hasn’t poo’d for 2 days now!’ and other such like business is a perfect example of hot topics covered at 3am with your new NCT friends who are also wide awake WHILE THE WHOLE WORLD IS ASLEEP!
Plus, you can all meet for mid-morning cake in the early days, and then transition your meet ups into evening ones, with wine and stuff as the babies get older. Awesome! (Plus it’s great to be able to take one of those pictures where you place all of your babies’ heads together on the rug) Knowing real-life people with babies is so important and stops you feeling isolated or separate from the rest of the world. When I had my first baby at age 19 (16 years ago) I knew no-one else having a baby. Not a single friend (of course I didn’t know anyone – at that age all of my friends were all at uni or out clubbing or attending “festivals”!) so I remember it was all very lonely for a while there. If I were to go back and do it all over again, I would make more of an effort to make friends with other mums.
7. Don’t -for one second- let your baby make you feel that you can’t do stuff. And by ‘stuff’ I mean going on holidays; going out for dinner; day trips; visiting people etc if that’s what you want to do. Because contrary to popular belief, babies are immensely portable. Sure you need to take some extra stuff with you, but it is what it is so just crack on with it.
8. When it comes to your birth plans: expect the unexpected. I’m not saying that in a scary ‘shit’s gonna hit the fan’ kind of way, but simply that things can change. I’ve had 4 babies and I can honestly say that every birth has ended up being wildly different to that of my expectations. Equally the feeding has differed with each of them too. Two of my children breastfed like a dream, whilst two of them, just kind of, didn’t. I consequently learnt to take things like that in my stride. Make a lose plan and prepare to have that plan challenged.
9. Don’t fear the baby blues before they’ve even hit. Because it’s worth remembering that this may or may not be an issue for you anyway, equally, these are common occurrences so there is no shortage of help and advice out there if you do need it.
I honestly believe that the possibility of negative emotional or hormonal side-effects after giving birth ranging from feeling a bit low to experiencing post-natal depression has so many possible influences and personal variables, that this can never be a ‘one size fits all’ topic.
One thing is for sure – your hormones will be up and down and you will no doubt feel at the mercy of them from time to time in the early days. So expect that bit and allow yourself some understanding. Surround yourself with people whom support you and learn to avoid those who don’t. If you do feel the urge to reach out for help, seriously girl, don’t hesitate. Parenthood is not a competition and many of us need a shoulder to lean on and some expert advice from time to time.
10. I’ve saved my number one tip till last. It’s simply this: Just relax! Relax, relax, relax. As much as you possibly can. We woman are such fuss-pots sometimes, and we have a tendency to worry about things which JUST DON’T MATTER. It doesn’t matter if your house looks like a total mess. It doesn’t matter that your skinny jeans don’t fit you. Of course they don’t!!
Just try to rid your brain of all outside influences and pressures and focus on the important bits. Close the metaphorical door on everything else for the time being.
I’ve found having a baby is a bit like stepping out of life for a while. A kind of ‘life hibernation’. And I found that adapting to that mind-set helps immensely. Its like it takes the pressure right off.
Take your time to settle into things and the rest of the world can wait for now. And so can the housework … and the skinny jeans … and your social life. It can all wait. Okay?
I hope all of that helps you a little. Please do feel free to leave your comments below, I’d love to hear if any of you can relate?
Thank you for reading, please do share if you found these tips useful 🙂