So I've done this motherhood thing for three months now and whilst I am by no means an expert (believe me I flounder on a daily basis) I thought I'd pass on a few tips I've learnt along the way. I've tried to cut this down but it is a longish post so bear with me.
I had an induction with Matilda, we went into hospital on the Wednesday morning and she was born at 1:11am on the Friday. I had a few midwives over the course of those 36+ hours but they were all wonderful. I was very lucky to have midwives who were happy to let me abuse the gas and air and have an epidural. Which leads me to my first point...
▲ In labour, it's ok to take the drugs.
I know there are some midwives who will try and discourage you from all pain relief but if you want it you should insist. There are many times when you will feel you have no control over what your body is doing so I strongly believe this is one area where you should exercise control. I have a lot of admiration for women who do it without pain relief and I should add that my labour was by no means pain free but it definitely helped me cope a lot better.
▲ Make people bring food when they visit.
The best thing anyone did for us was bring us food and for that we will be forever grateful. My parents did a shop for us with some ready meals and ready prepared veg, friends brought us homemade food and Nick's family got us a takeaway or three. It was such a simple thing but so amazingly helpful. So if anyone ever asks if you need anything, tell them you need food.
▲ Don't beat yourself up about breastfeeding!
Matilda had quite a bad tongue tie when she was born and it has been snipped three times in total because it kept healing back up. This made it very difficult to breastfeed and caused us and her a lot of distress. I really wanted to breastfeed but in hindsight I shouldn't have put so much pressure on myself. Breastfeeding is a wonderful thing but if you can't do it or don't want to do it you should never feel bad. I am still breastfeeding about 30% of the time - usually at night - largely because I refuse to give up just yet. But now I don't feel guilty for giving her formula, it has helped her grow into the little 13lb 2oz chunk that she is today. Rachel at Make a Long Story Short wrote a brilliant post on breastfeeding here and it was so reassuring to know that I was not alone in my breastfeeding woes.
▲ It's perfectly ok not to shower for three days
but if you get the chance, you'll feel like a whole new woman.
▲ Try and leave the house, even if just to go to the post box.
Giving birth at the end of November meant I didn't really take Matilda anywhere until the start of January because it was dark and cold but getting out the house is so helpful. We sometimes go to a local babygroup on a Monday and Baby Sensory on a Friday, plus we have Aldi ten minutes walk away so we get out the house most days if only for half an hour. It gives me an excuse to put proper clothes on and maybe even makeup and remember that I am half human.
▲ Try and do something for yourself.
I've taken up a lot of arts and crafts since Matilda was born, sometimes I might only do 20 minutes a day when she naps but it helps keep my brain going to think about cutting and sticking instead of nappies and spit up. I've also really worked on developing the blog and I still find time for baking.
▲ Don't worry about your size.
Remember what an AMAZING thing your body has done and give your belly a break. But do try and eat well, it's hard to fit it in and I've found the following were quick to make and quick to eat (I've even managed to eat the jacket potato with one hand):
- Bagels and cream cheese
- Microwave jacket potatoes and tuna mayo
- Avocado on toast
- Any kind of sandwich
It also helped making a little extra for tea the evening before and reheating leftovers for lunch the next day.
It used to drive me mad when people made the age old jokes about not getting any sleep when the baby arrives but it is kind of true. Matilda sleeps much better now but the first month was awful and I completely see why sleep deprivation is a form of torture. I fell asleep with her feeding many times and I used to prop a cushion behind my head on the sofa incase I nodded off.
▲ Let the house be messy.
There just aren't enough hours in the day for you to worry about the house. It does make me feel better to straighten up but I don't make it my priority. There are just too many other things to do. The house is clean but not necessarily tidy and I don't think that's anything to lose any sleep over - you're already losing enough sleep.
▲ Finally, Do what you feel is best for your child.
You know your child better than anyone else so trust your gut. I've had people pull faces at me when I say we co-sleep a lot and I've felt guilty for formula feeding but at the end of the day I have a happy and healthy baby and co-sleeping has allowed us to get enough sleep to be better parents so I try not to question every decision I make anymore.
Whatever your are doing, you are doing a great job. I hope this has been remotely useful and if you aren't pregnant yet, I hope one day this comes in handy.