Guidance I wish I knew before becoming a mummy!!!
Like many more before me, I have become a mother. Twice over now. And although these have become, hands down, the two most wonderful experiences of my life, they certainly didn’t come without their difficulties, their ups and their downs.
If I was going to do it all over again they’d be a couple of things I’d do slightly differently, little hints and pointers which I only wish I knew when I became pregnant.
And it is this knowledge, hindsight, past experience and lessons learnt along the way which has led me to impart the following recommendations of how to best get through and make the most of your journey into motherhood.
Become involved with local support groups
If this is your first baby – this will be a whole new experience for you.
Why not be joined on that journey by others in similar situations like at pre and post natal classes etc?
From a personal perspective I really wish I’d joined our local NCT class – I look at friends of mine today who still regularly meet up and socialize with their NCT friends’ years after giving birth, and think how wonderful it is that they’ve all remained good friends with children of such similar age all going through things at the same time. This could be especially important if you have no-one close to you, with children or looking to starting a family.
Otherwise – perhaps look and speak to others online – I didn’t do this, but having now become immersed in the world of blogging, there is without doubt a wealth of information and resource, and countless people with similar anxieties, situations and experiences all with advice and support who you could reach out to.
And last but by no means least, there will then be your friends and family. These people will become invaluable to you.
Don’t be bullied or swayed by others
If you don’t want guests round that morning to visit you and the baby, because you’re exhausted and all you really want to do is slump in front of Jeremy Kyle with a cuppa and a packet of Digestives, then politely just say ‘no’.
If you’ve had enough of breastfeeding, given it a good couple of months, got the bruised and cracked nipples to prove it and are now physically and mentally at your wits end, then don’t be bullied into carrying on.
If you choose to let your little one have a dummy/soother, then don’t let others get you down by all the tut-tutting and scathing glances in your direction.
If you’re not ready to go for a quick jog because your stitches were only taken out the previous week, then politely decline!
Honestly – it could be anything!
Believe me – everyone has opinions and feel they need to express these to you as you become a parent!
(look at me now with these tips!! You see!!)
Learn to stand up for yourself – I sure had to. Though I found it hard, it did get better with time. Before I had my children I was pretty meek and mild, but since having them, I’ve changed slightly in that I’ll certainly stick up for what I believe in a hell of a lot more, especially when it comes to the care and wellbeing of my beloved babies!
Don’t be too proud, stubborn, or polite. Just learn to say – ‘yes please’!
Help could be anything from having someone prepare some meals for you; taking away the washing and bringing it back freshly clean and ironed; cleaning up the bathrooms a little; watching over baby while you have a rest or a long hot shower (we’ve all been there when we’ve been afraid to wash in the fear that baby will wake and want feeding the very second you turn on the shower taps).
Believe me – this will keep you sane!
And if you are the independent type it really doesn’t have to last forever, just until you’re through the tougher first few weeks and have established more of a routine in your own home.
Ask for Help
On a similar thread – ask for help if you need it!
This is an important one.
Don’t be shy. Don’t think you’re being a nuisance or scared that you might be judged by asking a trivial or silly sounding question.
If you are desperate to breast feed but really struggling with it, then just speak with someone who can help. Likewise, if you feel down or at all depressed, seek medical help and advice. This is common, loads of women suffer anxieties, hang ups etc, you are one of many and can be helped if you ask. I’ve been there, and come out the other side. There are doctors, practitioners, specialists, midwives, health visitors; there are clinics, wellbeing centers, family centers and advice lines should you need them.
these are trained specialists who are there to help you, no matter what your concern. They are not there to judge you or laugh at you, just to help you through the tough times.
Get out of the house
This was an important one for me, as looking back; I think it contributed considerably to me going stir crazy and becoming depressed.
The walls of your house can soon become so much smaller, confined and insular if you just cocoon yourself up in the confines of your home and avoid going out. Personally, I was a bit scared and anxious to go out, as I was afraid I’d come across a sticky situation with my newborn and not be able to handle it, so I just cooped myself up. This led in part to me becoming rather lonely and depressed.
Fresh air though is good for you, its good for the mind and good for the soul!
Eventually there became nothing better than to trudge along the streets or take country walks, just myself, my buggy and my baby. Left entirely to our own thoughts.
Also – make appointments with friends or at baby activity mornings – if like I was – you’re a nervous new mum – just meeting for a coffee with a friend who can help you with the baby for ten minutes is seriously worth its weight in gold.
One thing I regret terribly is that I have very few photographs of me with either of my girls as babies. I was so ‘out of love’ with myself and ashamed of my body that I didn’t really like any that were taken and swiftly deleted them. Also, I have a husband that is. It that forthcoming at picking up a camera!
Having now become a blogger – I only wish I’d have started this through my first pregnancy. Ok so you have all the baby books etc but it’s hard to find the right columns, headers etc – your own personal experiences may not necessarily fit into those categories.
I also wish I’d done the monthly tummy growth photo charting for each of my children, and then onto the monthly growth piccies of them as they change and grow from teeny babies through to toddling twos.
I know you can’t do it all and it’s all quite time consuming, but I really do wish I’d have some of these things now for memories sake.
Make life easier for yourself
For example, I knew I was having a C-section the second time around, so I knew I’d be pretty immobile for the first week or so. With this in mind I made use of a mobile changing unit.
Otherwise, slightly less creatively known as, ‘a box with all the change stuff in’.
I made one from a white wicker basket and each morning when we descended as a family downstairs – this came too, along with the change mat. It worked wonders as I didn’t have to traipse up and down the stairs to change little baby’s nappy each time it was wet and dirty. It was hard enough to get up off the sofa, let alone journey around the house whilst holding a baby. We made sure the Moses basket was within reach alongside our little box of tricks!
It really is worth thinking through just a couple of ideas that you believe will make a difference.
Save yourself some pennies
You don’t necessarily need to have bought all the top brandnamed or new ‘in’ items!
Yes – it’s nice to have everything. All the new fashionable things like the expensive branded buggy, the cool mummy bag and the cute designer clothing, but seriously, it’s not that important!! We did some of this (not all – we really are not that rich!) and to be perfectly honest some of the items worked for us, some didn’t, and some are still practically new and unused as they didn’t go down well at all.
The baby world is a minefield!
And as soon as you label something ‘baby’ – just as I believe it is in ‘wedding’ – the price seems to shoot through the roof!
You really don’t have to go stressing about having to have the newest faddy item to hit the shops or the latest fan dangled thingamabob just because it had rave reviews from The Duchess of Kent!
There is just so much out there you will quickly become baffled, bemused and just overwhelmed with the whole thing!
As long as you have the main basic essential items that every mother and baby needs to start out in this world, you can just go from there. We’ve all been told that having children is expensive – so why not save up some of those pennies for things for you as a family a little later down the line!
Plus, you’ll more than likely be inundated with baby gifts and enough age 0-3 month clothing to fill a small shop!
And of course – if it’s baby number two – then just use the hand me downs!!!
Get the house as ready and prepared as you can prior to bringing baby home.
Have as much as you can organised and set out ‘ready to go’ as when you bring home your new bundle, it’ll be all hands on deck and will make life far easier and less stressful to know where to go when you need the spare pack of breast pads!
And most definately stock up on some good, hearty freezer meals!
This is an ‘oh so easy’ and obvious one. And without question it’ll be worth it! Once baby arrives, it’ll be hard to juggle bottles, muslins and nappies with pots, pans and cooking utensils to even rummage up a quick spag bol! Cheese on toast just might be possible but so as not to risk it just pre-plan!
Plus – you’ll be too tired to even want to walk into the kitchen! Or perhaps even feeling a little too fragile still to manage walking at all!!
Rest; Rest; Rest!!
The first six weeks are always the hardest, or so say all the mothers I know.
Everything is new, you are establishing new routines etc and nothing is quite fitting together. All I can say for sure is that when baby sleeps, you sleep! Ok so you might be a little house proud, and expect to have guests popping in left right and center – but seriously, they’ve not come to judge the state of the house, check out the dishes in the sink or to run their fingers along the dusty shelves – they’ve come to see you and your baby.
And don’t feel guilty for doing nothing either! This is your time to enjoy with your baby after all!!
And to have lots of cuddles!
Giving birth is hard in itself, let alone if you’ve had to have a c section or stitches; so you need to rest, recuperate and allow your body time to heal.
Plus you’ll be tired.
And if you’re not now – give it a few weeks and you’ll be exhausted.
Don’t get too het up if plans go awry – it will be what it will be!
As an expectant mother, you will want to plan everything as best you can. Especially the things I may have mentioned above. But just as equally, don’t stress over them if things go a little amiss.
Best laid plans and all!!
For example you may have discussed and created the most well thought out and elaborate birthing plan known to man, but if at the end of the day, if like me you have to get whisked quickly in for an emergency C-section, then so be it.
And although you’d made plans over a month ago to catch up with an old friend over lunch, but baby is suddenly throwing up all over the place and spiking a temperature, then it is what it is.
There’s nothing you can.
yes it may not be what you’d planned or really wanted but all I can say is not to stress about things. The last thing you or baby needs is a cranky mummy.
And if you just ‘go with the flow’ and be a little more laid back about things, I believe you’ll live a much happier little life!
Just enjoy it
It is by far the most amazing experience in your lifetime.
Yes it’s hard.
Yes, you’ll be totally scared as it’s the unknown.
No there isn’t a guide book; and yes every baby is different, so don’t start comparing them.
You will have your good days and your not so good days, but they are fleeting and one day you will look back upon them and miss them.
So enjoy them while you have the them.
Even the crappier bits!
Cuddle lots and spend the time getting to know your new baby.
Bond with them and hold them tight., as they don’t stay small and vulnerable forever.
Great tips! Eee, it was hard work! I really struggled with the sleep deprivation and my little one wasn’t a fan of sleeping anyway but me so even if he did settle in his cot, I couldn’t relax for fear he would wake me just as I was dropping off! Torture!
I read a great article by the sleep lady that became my mantra! The main bit was making sure you get three hours uninterrupted sleep every day, and that means some else has to be on baby duty! Hello expressed milk and daddy! Totally changed my life, I was human again 🙂
Thanks for linking up to #TheList hxxx
Beautiful words. Wish I heard/read this when I gave birth! So true with the rest, help and well just about everything. Thanks for sharing. #pocolo
No worries at all – I think I’ve probably missed a tonne more good advice – but us mothers could spout on forever sometimes couldn’t we. Hehehe. xxx
Very good advice. I’m 7 weeks into motherhood and have definitely had to learn to ask for help! #PoCoLo
Thank you so much – yes – I really think we can’t be too proud here – it’s lovely to be independent but let’s just accept and seek help to keep us mummies sane!! Hope you’re doing well with little one. xxxx
Good advice, particularly about not being bullied – I think that’s soooo hard when you have your first because you have no idea what is normal. x
Exactly. I found that very difficult as I was a bit of a doormat. You soon find the courage to stick up for what you want and think is best though. And unfortunately, although there are a very many people out there in advice giving positions who are totally superb and responsible, you unfortunately sometimes stumble across the odd one who is just too opinionated and stuck in the past! Thats what I found. Thanks so much for your comment. xx
This is such a wonderful post and made me feel quite tearful as I know I won’t ever have those first precious days with Little Miss H again. I agree with all this advice. It is so easy to expect too much of yourself when you’ve become a new mum. But you need to be kind to yourself and relax. I always love your posts Steph. Hugs Mrs H xxxx
Hey gorgeous! Thanks so much once again for a super comment – sorry you shed a tear – although I pretty much did too – it really is the most wonderful thing isn’t it! We’ll just have to coo over other peoples babies now. Big hugs and kisses xxx
Some great tips Steph and all really relevant to me with only 4 weeks to go. Wish I could cook, then I could stock the freezer, will cheese on toast freeze? Debs x
Thanks Deb!! Hows it all going?? Not to sure about the cheese on toast – but always worth a try!!!! xxx