Just over a year ago, I shed my pregnancy status and became a mum to this little dude.
It’s been a roller-coaster year. After a really crappy pregnancy and labour, I didn’t entirely have high hopes for this motherhood thing. In fact, I wasn’t sure I was particularly cut out for it. If I could go back and give that panicked version of myself some advice, here’s what I would say.
1. You’re going to feel everything harder
Happier, sadder, angrier. It’s weird. Overwhelming. But great too. One thing I didn’t realise is that not only would I fall in love with this tiny little baby, but also love all the people around who help you through it more – your husband, family, friends. It’s going to be bloody hard work (yes, harder than any job you’ve had before), but the cliches are true – it’s far more rewarding too.
2. Get used to accepting help
It takes a village to raise a baby, and sometimes you just need someone to come over and look after your baby while you go have a shower and a little therapeutic cry. That doesn’t mean you’re weak – in fact it takes a lot of strength to say yes. This is especially true in the first few weeks, when the lack of sleep and overwhelm can leave you in tears. Note: Baby blues for the first few weeks are normal, but if you continue to feel like that, please do speak to your doctor or health visitor.
3. Download the Wonder Leaps app
Pronto. You’re going to be fairly lucky in that Oscar is a chilled little dude and sleeps well. But you’ll also sometimes be scratching your head/sobbing about why he’s crying/being stroppy/gone off his milk. The Wonder Leaps tells you what’s happening in their development and what to expect – and it’s surprisingly accurate.
4. Stop being so hard on yourself
This is what lots of people will keep saying to you, but you won’t really listen. Looking after a baby in their first year is a lot of work, so if you don’t have a thriving business during that time, or a tidy house, it’s ok. (You’ll actually do more than you think though). Someone once told me that having a baby sort of breaks you, so that you can rebuild yourself to be a mum, and I definitely think there’s an element of truth in that.
5. Lack of sleep is actual torture
Everyone will tell you putting him in a routine (a gentle but firm one) from 5 weeks will be pointless. When he sleeps through at 11 weeks, you’ll be able to function better and parent better. And your baby will be much happier and calmer. Equally, if being more baby-led works for you, do that too! There is no ‘right way’, just your way.
6. Birth trauma is nothing to be ashamed of
There is a taboo around talking about having a traumatic labour, as if admitting you’re struggling with the emotional and physical trauma means you’re not grateful for your child (and this applies to partners who have witnessed one too). It does, usually, get easier. There’s a great Birth Trauma support group on Facebook that can be reassuring (but speak to a doctor if you feel like it’s impacting on your daily life).
7. Parenting can be fun!
The first year is much more fun than you think, and you’ll get to do all sorts of silly things. Like watching Disney movies all day, and not wearing a bra. Oh, and maternity bras are ugly but the comfiest thing you’ll ever put your boobs in. As Oscar gets older, his personality will come out and he’ll be the funniest, cheekiest little chap.
8. A good 45 minute bath with a glass of wine can do miracles after a tricky day
In fact, self-care is even more important now you’re a mum.
9. Baby led weaning is AMAZING
Instead of pureeing things and carting jars of smelly mush around, you just give them a little portion of what you eat (as long as the salt and sugar content is low and you avoid honey and nuts). Then they feed themselves. It’s messier, but being able to get on with eating your own meal while they eat theirs is brilliant. Plus they’re less likely to be picky eaters or overeat.
10. Take time to go on dates with your husband
One of the best things we did from an early stage was accept offers of babysitting from grandparents so that we could go to the cinema or for lunch a couple of weekends a month.
11. Stop giving a shit about what other people have to say about your parenting decisions
No one, literally no one, parents in the same way. There’s a disappointingly high number of mums who tear other mums down for not parenting in the same way they do. Everyone has to find what works for their family.
Are you a mum? What would you tell pregnant you?
Join our tribe
We promise to pop a whole host of good stuff into your inbox every Wednesday to brighten up your week. Can't say fairer than that now can we?