10 things you need to know before giving birth
When I was pregnant with my first child, I was determined to be the very best mother I could be. I read everything I could find; magazines by the dozen, mommy blogs devoured in their droves, every pregnancy book I could get my hands on. I immersed myself in the world of baby products. Nothing could stop me.
Once he was born there were so many times I thought, "Why did noone tell me it was like this?" The stitches were still in place, my breasts were agony, and the pregnancy hormones made my body shake. I wondered why nothing was ever written about these:
No angelic choir
You read about the overwhelming love that you feel for your child as soon as it comes into the world. Many mothers do feel this, but not everyone is immediately attacked by fireworks of joy, of parades of unicorns and dancing Disney princesses. Some women just feel very overwhelmed, so take comfort in the fact that you're not the only one.
Baby makes his presence known when he's born, and going to the toilet afterwards may be very uncomfortable, so take your time. Seriously.
I wanted to breastfeed immediately. I thought I could open my shirt and baby would home in like a magnet. Sorry, but that's not how it works. I've had bleeding nipples, congestion, and a baby who had difficulty in attaching. Eventually I figured it out with lanolin cream, a flask, and a whole lot of expressing. Breastfeeding is not always easy, despite your best intentions.
Around four days after birth, your hormones crash and you get cramps and emotional. You cry everywhere, your life is over, your partner doesn't understand you, you're in pain and everything is going wrong. Enjoy the crying. Talk to your health visitor and have a cuddle with your little one. It will all be okay. Motherhood tears are natural and normal and every mother has them. However, if really feel like you're in a pit of despair, there is help available so seek it out.
You'll no doubt want to be "normal" as soon as possible. You want the pregnancy belly gone so you can get back into your old clothes. Keep calm and take care of yourself, this will come in time. Buy some nice pyjamas and enjoy the little baby bubble you're in for now. The reality of ordinary life hits you hard, so enjoy this while you can.
On the fifth day, when someone asked me about baby, I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. Newborn babies just refuse to sleep! They don't have a circadian rythm yet, and their needs during the night, for food and for nurturing, seem to be especially high. It can take a long time before your baby will sleep properly at night, and there's not really anything you can do about it. So what does help? Speaking with other parents, lots of coffee, and some night time television.
Look for help
Being a first time mother is difficult. One day you're only looking out for yourself, then before you know it a helpless little life relies on you for absolutely everything. Contact with other mothers is essential, they are full of advice because they've been there before. Everyone is in the same boat. Where can you find these mothers? Everywhere! The supermarket, swimming classes, online forums, libraries, all sorts of places.
It's okay to complain
There is nothing wrong with being realistic. Motherhood is beautiful and creates so much joy, but it's also extremely difficult and changes your life forever. You're allowed to complain about your lack of sleep, and that you want to shower until you have no soap left. Just because you want to scream doesn't make you a bad mother, because you love your child above everything, no matter how high the water gets sometimes.
Don't be afraid to get help. Take that shower when a girlfriend comes around. If your mom offers to babysit, seize the opportunity with both hands. If a friend fancies bringing around some food, give a hearty "yes please!"
Take it in
In those sleepless nights, you can forget that baby grows like a vegetable! Take in all those moments, because everything changes so quickly. Their newborn hair will change, those cries will sound different after a few weeks, those little tiny fingers will soon not be so tiny. So take in every moment while you can.
So, now you're up to date and you can get rid of all those motherhood books you still have to read ;-)