Since having my baby boy I have spent a lot of time (hello night feeds and cluster feeding) reflecting on advice and anecdotes I had heard whilst pregnant and what, in hindsight I actually wish I had known. Nothing can really prepare you for the roller coaster that is motherhood but I hope this post helps or at least amuses you if you are currently pregnant, it certainly would have helped me! If you have had your baby I would love to hear your thoughts on these as well.
P R E B A B Y
‘Oh you think you’re tired now, just wait until the baby is here!’ | This is both true and untrue. Yes, those early newborn days are exhausting but it’s a different kind of tired to the tiredness you feel when you’re nine months pregnant and carrying a giant watermelon engaged in a boxing match around with you. Although being a Mama of a newborn is totally exhausting, you also have this gorgeous little person who looks at you like you are their whole world and whom only your arms comfort. That makes the tiredness a lot easier to cope with (sometimes…).
‘Babies don’t need very much.’ | This is true, babies need relatively little but that did not stop me from making many a late night Amazon Prime order in the hope of finding the magic solution to every sleep/feeding/I just need 5 minutes to myself problem (google the fourth trimester instead and save yourself a lot of time and money!).
‘Labour is painful but you’ll forget the pain’ | Every mother I spoke too told me that this was the case and I really did not think it was possible but my goodness when my lovely midwife Debbie put Freddie into my arms I could not feel the pain anymore. And as time has gone on I know that labour was really, really painful but I really can’t remember what it felt like. Mother Nature is a curious thing!
‘Breastfeeding isn’t meant to hurt’ | Now I know this might be the case for some women, but for everyone in my antenatal group it did to varying extents. Had I known that, I would have saved myself so much time worrying about what I was STILL doing wrong even after numerous calls to breastfeeding helplines, visits from midwives/health visitors and even paying for a lactation consultant. Turns out my baby was just struggling with his tiny mouth and my gigantic boobs. At around five/six weeks the pain disappeared and I honestly believe that was because his mouth had grown.
’Your life will never be the same’ | This is so true. But not in a bad way, at least not for me. Yes some days are incredibly tough and both Freddie and I have ended up in tears on many occasions but he has also enriched our lives in ways I had not envisaged. Freddie has made me less selfish, much braver and more confident. Putting his needs first has forced me to do things that used to scare me and although I question whether I am any good at this motherhood lark, I will always put him first.
W H A T I W I S H I H A D K N O W N
‘Newborns need help to nap (and in my baby’s case, a whole lotta help!)’ | I don’t know where I got the notion from that babies just sleep anywhere and everywhere but once Freddie got to around eight weeks, day sleep became a huge battle. It was like one day he suddenly woke up and decided the world around him was far too interesting. He stopped calmly dozing off during our cuddles or after a feed and instead I had to work incredibly hard to get him to nap. I wish I had known this because it would have saved me hours of wondering what was wrong with my baby because he wouldn’t just nap in his co-sleeper or the pram.
‘All babies hate the swaddle when its first put on’ | We tried swaddling Freddie during the first few weeks and he cried whenever he was swaddled so we assumed he must HATE it. After some very helpful online information (sought after Freddie was waking every 40 minutes or so at night!) we learnt that it’s not the swaddle that helps the baby to go to sleep, it’s what you do after it’s on. We tried the swaddle again around six weeks and Freddie began to sleep for much longer stretches and was generally a lot easier to settle.
‘Your boobs will resemble a pair of watermelons’ | I have never been one to shout about how great any part of my body was pre-baby but I will admit I had a rather nice pair of boobs. During pregnancy they started to balloon and I really believed they couldn’t get any bigger. Well, it’s safe to say I was very much mistaken! They grew exponentially when my milk came in and are still humongous now.
‘You will cry at the same time every day for the first couple of weeks’ | This may win the prize for the oddest post-partum ‘symptom’. For the first few days I cried a lot, probably due to a combination of exhaustion from my almost four day induction (read more about that in Freddie’s birth story here) as well as all of the hormonal changes your body goes through. What surprised me was that for another week or so after, like clockwork between 5pm and 7pm I sobbed my heart out. My mum kept saying ‘You just need to get to one week/ ten days/three weeks and it will get better’. Sure enough, she was right and I realised one day I hadn’t cried at all.
‘Exhaustion can do odd things to your mind’ | After Freddie was born, I realised I hadn’t actually slept in three days. Not properly. The effect it had on me was really quite scary and I wish I had known that it was due to lack of sleep. I remember my husband taking Freddie to the communal room in our ward so that I could get some rest. Except I couldn’t. Every time I drifted off it felt like my body was replaying everything that had happened during the last few days and I had really vivid awake dreams. I also felt really wired and hyper alert. Luckily, once we were home it went away but it was really frightening!
Can you relate to any of these? What is the one thing you wish you had known pre-baby? I would love to chat with you in the comments. Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram and share this post if you think it might help another mama to be!
Thanks for reading,