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!
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