Preparing to be a new mum is a mixture of excitement and nervousness. With so much needed to prepare for your new bundle of joy it can be overwhelming. People start giving advice before the baby’s even been born- do this, don’t do that. It all becomes a bit confusing. With this in mind I have written a list of things I wished I’d been told before I had Lily. I’m sure there’s loads more things it would have been good to know, but these are the main ones. I’d love to hear other mum’s words of wisdom in the comments!

OK let’s start off by talking about labour:

1. After the birth, your down below will feel like it’s swollen up to the size of a house and you will walk like you’ve had an accident in your massive pants for a good few days. You will be petrified to do a number two, but it’s OK all your insides won’t fall out when you do one I promise. Prunes are your friend.
 2. You will not care how you look down below during labour, and whilst we’re on the subject of down below you also won’t care if you’re one of the 1 in 3 women who poo either! You just do what you have to in order to get that baby out! I was booked in to have a wax on the Monday… Lily came the Thursday BEFORE. As I was having contractions I was in the shower trying to bend my massive body over so that I could tidy things up a bit before heading the hospital (NOT very possible when you are 38 weeks pregnant!). Yes I know it’s ridiculous. I also straightened my hair before heading off. I know… My point is: your hair will become a sweaty mess; you will poo/bleed everywhere and your midwife will see it all so she really doesn’t care if you are nice and tidy down there or not; make up- you’ve got to be kidding me.
3. You have to wear MASSIVE sanitary towels after the birth. I’m not talking Always Extra Heavy, they won’t do the trick. I’m talking 3 inch thick beasts. Ask the hospital if they have some they can give you, they were the best ones I found! Pack a LOT in your hospital bag (you can get some from Boots) in case the hospital doesn’t have many spare as you will go through them. It’s important to keep the area nice and clean to prevent infection so change them often. I used a hairdryer to dry myself down there after a shower to avoid putting a rough towel on a sensitive and sore area, making sure it was properly dry!
4. This may sound obvious to some but it’s something I hadn’t thought about: You still have a bump after the baby has been born. Your insides all take a while to settle down after you’ve given birth, and your tummy keeps it’s bump for a little while after. It sort of reminded me of a squishy deflated balloon. You will need your maternity clothes for a few more weeks! Joe and I drove to a local midwife led unit after we had Lily to stay for the night whilst I recovered. As I hobbled out the car and sat down at the reception waiting for Joe to park and walk over with Lily, an elderly man said to me “Don’t worry dear, that baby will be out soon and you’ll have a beautiful son or daughter.” I didn’t have the heart to tell him actually I’d already given birth, and instead just smiled and scuttled off when Joe and Lily found me.

Once you’re home with the baby:

5. The journey home from the hospital you will feel so nervous in the car. You will feel like you are transporting an unexploded bomb and every bump you go over you will look at the baby to make sure they’re OK. You will sit in the back and stare at this baby that you’ve just given birth to and want to protect it with every fibre of your being.
6. You can never have enough muslin cloths! Or baby grows, or clothes in general, or bed sheets! You think you have a lot but once those poosplosions start happening you will go through more washing liquid than you thought possible! And it’s not just the baby’s clothes, your clothes will get covered in poo, wee, sick and milk. Wherever you’re going with your baby you will need a change of clothes for them and you! You can never have enough nursing bras either.
7. You WILL survive on no sleep. You may be a walking zombie, you may be grouchy and snappy but you will get through it. If you’re breastfeeding it may be quite a while before you get to sleep through the night again. Breastfed babies are known to be worse sleepers as they have to work harder for their milk and often this tires them out so are less full and tend to graze. But I promise eventually you will establish a routine and your baby will start to sleep better (usually!). Read my tips on how to cope with sleep deprivation here.
8. Sunshine gets poo stains out. Hang the poo stained babygrow on the line or in the window if it’s cold and the sun will do the trick! (That and a bit of vanish soap if it’s being extra stubborn or it’s a bit dried on!) Also, baby vests are designed so that they can be wriggled down over the shoulders downwards, rather than having to lift a poo covered vest over the baby’s head.
And what about you:
9. Breastfeeding is a struggle for most women. You can read more about my struggle here. Usually, women can get through it and go on to have a much smoother ride, but it took me about a month to get there. Look up how to get the latch right, what positions you can try holding the baby in. Invest in nipple cream, nipple shields, an electric breast pump, lots of breast pads, and a cabbage. OK let me explain that last one: Cabbage has something in it that when put on an engorged breast can help to relieve it. Bonus tip: put it in the fridge first and the coolness is amazing!
10. You and your partner will go through a rocky patch. You will snap at each other, you will bicker. You may even question whether having a baby together was the right thing to do. You may resent him for getting more sleep than you and being able to shower and get himself ready without having to worry about leaking boobs and organising a tiny baby. He may feel rejected, useless, redundant and maybe even jealous. You will be OK and get back on track once things settle down.
11. You will worry about your child and become that paranoid overprotective parent you swore you wouldn’t be. What weight the baby is, what their poo looks like, just try not to google – it can scare you more! And yes you will struggle to sleep because you’re constantly checking that they’re still breathing! It can feel overwhelming at times, I was told by the midwife I had postpartum anxiety- But I haven’t met a mum who hasn’t worried like I have, and still do! Eventually, it becomes more controllable.
12. Your life will change unrecognisably. You think you’ll leave it a few weeks and then go on a date night. You think you’ll be happy leaving the baby with your second cousin twice removed whilst you go to get your hair done – think again, in fact, the list of people you trust to look after your child will be teeny tiny. Think you can go back to having a glass of wine at the weekend once they baby’s born? Not if you’re breastfeeding you won’t. I was alcohol-free for over 2 years in the end. It’s safe to say I am even more of a lightweight than I was before now!
BUT your life will change in the BEST way as well. That baby will become your world and you will feel so much love and happiness. You actually don’t care about that other stuff anymore. Eventually, you will be able to do a few more bits like going out with the girls or going to get your nails done, and it is fantastic if you can get some time to yourself at some point, but you may not feel ready for quite a while, don’t feel pressured.
So those are the things I wish people would have told me before having a baby, any other things people wish they’d been told let me know in the comments!

To learn more about Bethany and her family, please take a look at her blog: Click Here.
To read more of Bethany’s posts at We Made a Baby: Click Here.

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People tell you about the surge of love you will feel when you have a baby. They will tell you how your baby will become your whole world. The worries that come with it as you want to protect this precious little human. And that is all totally true. But what nobody seems to talk about, is that having a newborn can also cause a massive strain on your relationship.

This is something I experienced, and actually I think most people experience but don’t want to admit. When Lily was born I felt all those normal emotions: love, a lioness type protective instinct, I worried obsessively as all new parents do. I also had physical troubles such as breastfeeding, with constant bouts of mastitis. Chuck in sleepless nights, Lily’s first cold at just 2 weeks old, and Joe having to go away a lot with work on courses, it was hard.
However alongside all of that, I still had a relationship. Going on this ride with me was Joe, my partner, and who until Lily was born the person I gave my entire attention to. We would go on trips out, we would go for meals, we would sit around and just do nothing. I really can’t even think what we did with all that time we had on our hands before having a child!
Suddenly we had no time for each other at all.

“You don’t have to speak to me with THAT tone of voice!”

How can he ask me to wait when I’m feeling disgusting and really want a shower, and if I don’t shower now I won’t get the chance to later because Lily will need a feed and then it’s dinner and then it’s her bath time. How can he be so selfish?!

What do most people do when they are tired, emotional and hormonal? They take it out on those they love. We all know we shouldn’t, but it is inevitable that sometimes you will snap just because you are feeling grumpy. When you are a new parent because of the level of stress it can end up happening all too often. Not only that but as emotions are so high things can seem a much bigger deal than they really are.
This happened to me when Lily was a newborn. I would be up all night, then spend most the day on my own with her, and don’t get me wrong I would love it. But by the time Joe came home from work I was tired, I hadn’t spoken to anyone or seen anyone all day except the baby. I had washing to hang out, dinner to cook, and I just felt overwhelmed. So when I would say to Joe something like “Can you look after Lily whilst I have a shower?” and he would say “In a minute I just want to get changed and have a cup of tea first.” I would snap at him.
Now what I should have really said was, “Yes no problem of course get changed, and then if you could look after Lily whilst I have a shower we can have a cup of tea together afterwards” or something like that. But let’s be honest, when you’re tired and feeling emotional you just don’t have much patience, especially with your partner.
Being new parents is really hard and it’s so easy to take things out on each other. I have also heard of men who feel extremely neglected. After having all that attention on them prior to the baby, their partner suddenly just seems to ignore them. It’s all about the baby now and no longer all about them. Well, “tough!” some might say, but if either party in the relationship is feeling unhappy it needs to be addressed somehow. Sometimes couples have been together 10 or so years before they have a baby and that sudden change can really cause a problem.
I’m sure when Joe had come home from that tough day at work he didn’t think asking to get changed and have a quick cup of tea was the worst thing in the world to suggest, and it wasn’t. But at the time it felt like a massive deal.
After a few weeks of this snapping and bickering, I started to hate myself. I knew I was being so difficult to live with. I felt so emotional that I struggled to control it. I would say to myself be more patient, but in the spur of the moment it would happen again. It took time but eventually I did manage to regain control of my emotions and my patience, or maybe my hormones calmed down. Joe and I got back on track, and things got a lot better.
However, unfortunately sometimes the relationship doesn’t get out of that state, and that’s when it can start to be really destructive. We love our babies and are so happy to have them in our lives, but it really can be a tough time. The newborn phase was undoubtedly the happiest I’ve ever been in my life, but it was also the time I cried the most and questioned myself as a person the most. Was I being a good mum? A good partner? Who am I now that I’m not the girl I was before I had Lily, but I feel like I don’t know who I am yet as a mother either. I’m suddenly responsible for this little person and I just want to protect her and look after her, but am I doing it right? It’s exhausting.
Are you going through this stage? Or did you? I found all that helped was just time, for things to settle down including my hormones! That and trying to reflect more on how I was acting. Talking to someone other than Joe about how I was feeling, friends or family. Of course if things get really bad it’s best to tell the health visitor or the doctor. Behind all the Instagram photos and happy Facebook statuses, I’m sure everyone experiences this on some level when they have a newborn.
According to the Office for National StatisticsAround a fifth of marriages end within five years of the birth of the first child. So this stress must be happening to a lot of us. Yet we don’t seem to talk about it.
To learn more about Bethany and her family, please take a look at her blog: Click Here.
To read more of Bethany’s posts at We Made a Baby: Click Here.

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