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Although I wrote this one a while ago it seems appropriate to start a blog on life and parenting at the beginning….the arrival of your first new born! Whatsmore, I still think what I wrote holds true.
There’s an abundance of books, articles and classes meant to prepare you for motherhood, so why, despite this, are the first weeks (hell, months) such a shock for most new mums. Being a recent new mum myself here are seven things I wish I’d known.
- It hurts like hell.OK so first things first, getting that baby out after nine months of ‘eating for two’ was never likely to be a doddle and we are aware of that. But what no one mentions is the after pain. Whether you have a natural birth or a c-section, physical recovery takes time. The first few days leave you reeling, like the after effects of an M6 pile up, while your pelvis feels like it’s been bludgeoned by a sledge hammer, not to mention the stitches! This pain, on top of the sleepless nights (oh yes, we are coming to that), is only added to by the grand arrival of the milk! One of the more painful side-effects of the breastfeeding is dehydration and the wonderful associated constipation – and yes, as you may have guessed, pairing out of joint pelvic bones with stitches and constipation is not a happy combo.
- Sleep when baby sleeps – err, not! I was all prepared for a new haphazard sleeping pattern, having a winter baby I was even looking forward to it – after all, who wants to go out in the dreary British weather, let alone with a newborn. According to my antenatal class my sweet little newborn would be sleeping 23 hours a day so all I had to do was curl up next to him. Alas, what I was not prepared for was that many newborns – my own included – only like to sleep in someone’s arms, invariably yours. With the NHS emphasising the dangers of co-sleeping, this leaves you in a bit of an exhausted quandary.
- Breast is best. We’ve all heard the breast is best argument and there is lots of evidence of the great benefits it can bring (though of course it’s not for everyone). However, perhaps a little bit of realism would actually help the campaign. Before my newest addition I sat with eight other expectant mothers and learnt how pain free the experience would be. In fact, we were assured that if we werefeeling pain, it meant something was wrong and could be rectified. One month down the line and of that group less than half are solely breastfeeding. Although I am continuing to do so the pain has made me question this decision on many an occasion. Blocked ducts, cracked nipples and a baby with a dodgy latch has exacerbated the pain that no doubt all new mums feel. I can’t help but feel if we had been more realistically prepared we might have fared better with this and had more confidence to persevere with the belief that practice makes…well, practice makes improvement, if not perfect.
- The love is immense.So enough of the negatives, one thing’s for sure this baby will become your all and everything. That doesn’t mean it will happen straight away, god just getting through the pain and sleepless nights at the start are hard enough, leaving very little time to actually look at your bundle of joy and feel anything other than a massive urge to fall straight asleep. But it comes, and when it does it’s immense. Enough said.
- Your instinct will develop.Let’s be honest, in the first few days you don’t know what you’re doing, no-one does. You try to remember what you have read and been told, but you soon realise that your baby isn’t quite how they describe in the text books/ antenatal classes/ blogs (delete as appropriate). The first few times my baby cried on visitors they handed him back quick-sharp, chirping, ‘he wants mummy’or, ‘I don’t know what to do’. I’m not sure if they saw the panic through my forced smile, all I could think was, he doesn’t even know who I am! I just prayed he would be quiet and they wouldn’t notice I was just as clueless as to what he needed. But in time, you do know what to do. Now I catch myself telling my (more than experienced) mum how to settle him. I catch him before he starts to cry and I know how to soothe him (ok, so not all the time, but a good chunk of it). Your instincts will kick in, just give them time and space and you’ll even surprise yourself.
- Family relationships will improve. OK so this might not be a guarantee, but the arrival of a newborn can help to adjust family power dynamics. You will no longer be the child in the relationship; when your parents see you providing for a helpless baby they may come to think of you differently. You may also find a new found respect for everything your parents did for you over the years and the love they must feel. And at the end of the day if that doesn’t work, a new born is a welcome distraction to any family tensions!
- Throw away the advice.If you’re reading this then you are probably already aware that for every piece of advice there is a contradictory piece. So, I’m not here to give even more, but what I will say is, what’s here today is gone tomorrow. And that goes for the good, the bad and the ugly. So make the most of it. Make the most of the nappy changes, the sleepless nights, the sore breasts and the rest because it will soon be done. Just when you feel like you can’t cope anymore, it will change, for better and worse, but I guarantee you it will change. Your pelvis will realign, your breasts will calm down and if you’re lucky you might even start to see a routine emerging out of the chaos. As you move forward you will find an approach that suits you. That may mean ignoring your best friends’ advice and telling your mum to back off; what works for you and your baby will not necessarily work for others. Just give it time and trust your instincts – there’s plenty of right ways to bring up a baby after all, and very few wrong!
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