Being a first time mom is tough. Everyone has an opinion that they want to share with you even if you didn’t ask. You try and prepare yourself for the coming baby by reading books, blog posts, listening to advice from friends and family but inevitably, it can all be a bit too much. With so much information, you’re going to hear ideas that clash, you’ll be given horror stories that make you want to close your legs for all eternity, and basically, it feels like no one has any viable answers because there’s just too much going on.
With the second baby on the way, I love that I’m going into the birth with my eyes open. I’m going to be holding my newborn baby and feel a little more secure in my knowledge and experiences, knowing that whilst there are certain things I have to face, I can overcome them.
Here are my top 10 things I’m glad I now know:
- Nothing goes to plan but don’t let that stop you from having a birth plan. I was determined not to have any pain killers. I wanted to give birth “naturally”. Perhaps, if I hadn’t have been induced, I might have been able to go without drugs but, at 8 1/2 cm dilation, I got myself an epidural and whilst I still felt the ring of fire, I was very happy not to feel as though my stomach was trying to break through my skin. This might not have been in the plan, but it’s okay. I stuck to my guns on not having forceps used on me and I made sure Mr H knew what I did and didn’t want. Expect that it might not be perfect.
- Having your waters broken is uncomfortable. Rosie was a week overdue and I was beyond it, I asked to be induced and we tried the liquid form first but I was already dilated so the next step was to have that nice knitting-needle style apparatus shoved up my V-jay. The first time didn’t work properly, but the second time, within 30 minutes I was in full labor agony. Whilst I knew there would be pain, no one had told me that there wouldn’t be the nice ebbing and flowing of contractions, that it would be constant and unrelenting. If the same has to happen again, at least I know now that the experience will be intense.
- There will be blood. I don’t know how this escaped me in biology or sex-ed, but I really didn’t know until reading up on labor that I would need sanitary towels afterwards. Thankfully I read a very honest and graphic blog post on items you should have after a natural birth (like a water syringe for cleaning the “downstairs”) and it definitely helped.
- You don’t need to bath your baby straight away at the hospital. I wish I didn’t let the nurses bath Rosie. I actually found this a little traumatic and unnecessary experience, one which doesn’t make sense. A number of studies have shown that vernix caseosa, the waxy coating on your newborn’s skin, is a natural moisturizer and cleanser – it even protects against infection. This time I will be holding off.
- You will need breast-pads! If you’re planning on breastfeeding and it works out for you, make sure you stock up on breast-pads. I advise staying away from the reusable/washable ones too! The reusable ones have no sticky backs and become sodden rags against your raging boobs. They shift around and end up being as useful as pissing in the wind.
- If you’re breastfeeding, prepare to buy more clothes. I loved the way my body sprang back after giving birth, but I couldn’t wear what I wanted to because I needed to have easy access to the breasts. I should have been more prepared with nursing tops and I won’t make that mistake again.
- Breastfeeding hurts! I read stupid articles that stated that if feeding is hurting you, you’re doing it wrong and in the beginning, I took it as gospel. But why on earth wouldn’t it hurt?! You’ve got a hungry mouth attached to a part of your body that is naturally sensitive. After two weeks, the pain went away but I was grateful for lanolin nipple cream and freezer-cold cotton wool pads that I had soaked in water. Don’t panic if it’s hurting (unless of course the pain is unbearable). You know what you can withstand, but don’t let your first thought be that you’re doing it wrong.
- Get out as much as you can with a newborn. Up to 3 months, on the boob, a baby can go anywhere with you. Revel in this freedom and hit the road.
- A sleeping child trumps everything. I take nap time and bedtime very seriously and I don’t like breaking it for anything. Whilst Rosie has fitted in with our life in a beautiful way, when it comes to sleeping, her needs supersede everything else because we know what happens when she doesn’t sleep. Yes, this does mean that we have to say no to going out at certain times and having dinner by friends is difficult. But, Rosie getting enough sleep, at the right times, is just vital for everyone’s sanity. I thought, in the beginning, that she might fit around our lifestyle but when I finally relinquished control of the sleeping aspect, it has made life so much easier.
- Your motherly instinct will kick in as if by miracle. All the things you really panicked about will probably happen, but you will be so much more prepared than you actually think. It’s amazing how in-tune you are with your kid and how you can actually face issues with a clear mind then they arise. Trust your instinct mom!
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