When I became a mum, I was mentally breaking at one stage. Thankfully the rough patch in the early days was short lived. I quickly came to learn that no matter how many books you read, there is no manual or set way of doing things when it comes to parenthood. People will offer up advice and guidance, but I started to get into the habit of only taking on board the advice I felt was most suitable to me and my baby. After all, nobody knew my baby more than I did.
Keep reading for my tops tips in the early days….
Pregnancy- the only way is stretchy!
If you are anything like me, stretchy leggings are THE one! I lived in them when I was pregnant as well as stretchy tops and non-wired bras. Definitely grab yourself a few pairs with some stretchy maternity tops. I didn’t spend much money on my maternity wardrobe as I lived in the same thing. When my bump first started to grow, I would thread a hair band through my trouser button hole and loop over the button. I’m sure we have all been there!
Stretchy is the way with pregnancy, especially if you are eating for two like I did! Food is what curbed my morning sickness, so I got my eat on!!! Foot long Subway sandwiches for breakfast was just the start of it!
Tip: Maternity leggings are a Yes!
Emotions- it really is like a roller coaster!
Becoming a mum is a massive deal. Our bodies go through so much in the process and it is only natural to feel massively emotional (a bit like how I am once a month!). Our emotions can spiral out of control into something a little deeper and unhealthy. Never in a million years did I think I would have dark thoughts after having my beautiful baby, but I did. In the beginning, I cried, felt up and down and I think that was because I was not used to going without 8 hours of consistent sleep.
After a few weeks, the random crying continued, and then came other unhealthy thoughts about not being good enough. If you get to this stage, it might be time to consider seeking help. Fortunately for me, my mum was able to support me back to a place of mental healthiness. Have you got somebody around you that you love and trust that you can talk to?
Lesson: If it all gets too much, speak to somebody close to you or failing that, contact your GP as they will be able to asses if you have post-natal depression.
Is that the time?- they grow so fast!
Cherish every moment because they really do grow so fast! It feels like just yesterday I was waking up in the night to breastfeed my son and wishing he would sleep for longer than an hour! Soon he will be starting school! Take lots of pictures and videos as they are invaluable. Do you like looking at pictures from your childhood? Do you wish there were more? I know I do!
When my son was born, his dad and I decided to set up a private blog on Tumblr that only we can access. We regularly place updates, videos and pictures on there so that he has something to look at when he grows up. When he says something funny or does something naughty (which can often be hilarious to me!) I write it on his blog so I can remind him of all the mischief he used to get up to. Oh! and it’s something to talk about to future girlfriends!
Tip: Make memories and capture moments because once that moment has gone, you can’t get it back.
A fed baby is a happy baby- end of.
How you choose to feed your baby is entirely up to you. I don’t believe in ridiculing and judging people for the way they choose to feed their baby. You never know what the story is behind the feeding choices some people make and it’s so easy for people to jump to a conclusion that is completely different to the reality.
For me, I didn’t consider formula feeding as I wanted to give breastfeeding my best shot. I read lots of things around techniques to feed a baby and the best breast pumps to buy. But, one thing I wish I had known about it the complications that can come with breastfeeding, such as tongue tie and latching issues. If I had prepared myself with at least an awareness of breastfeeding complications, I think my post-natal depression would’ve been that bit easier. My son didn’t latch on to the breast and I tried EVERYTHING! I was at the end of my tether but determined not to give up.
For the first six weeks, I was exclusively pumping and tried to latch him on every two hours. It felt like my nipples were on FIRE! Then during his sixth week in the world he miraculously latched. 18 months later, he didn’t want to unlatch!!
Lesson: Never judge people for their feeding choices as you don’t know what they are going through or why they’ve made those choices.
Tip: Have an awareness of breastfeeding, possible complications, pumping, storing milk, formula, sterilising and warming milk to equip yourself for every eventuality.
Reach out- parent and baby groups
Becoming a new mum can feel very lonely. People that were there before your baby came along might not be so available once the baby is here. I would advise you to get out to parent and baby groups if you can. I really enjoyed attending the groups and have now met some lifelong friends. The groups are good as there are qualified staff on site who will be able to give you guidance and answer any questions you may have. It also gives you a chance to speak to other parents, grandparents and carers about parenthood and you will find others who are going through similar experiences which you can relate to.
ALERT: some people do like to paint a perfect picture! No child or parent is perfect, we are all different.
If you’re looking for your plans, they might be out of the window!
The people around me and who know me well, would describe me as an organised person. I like to have things in place well before a deadline and am not the sort of person who can throw an amazing event at short notice. My hospital bag and birthing plan were in place at least 2 months before the baby was due! (covers eyes with hands).
I hold my hands up, I am a bit of an organisation freak! But motherhood has taught me that some things, in fact most things, just do not go to plan. I had a vision of a water birth and my son latching on with no requirements for me to explore bottle feeding. Epic fail! I ended up being induced with 2 epidurals and a baby who didn’t latch.
Also, give yourself as much time as possible. It used to take me four, yes FOUR! hours to get out of the door when my son was a baby. With pumping milk, ensuring everything is in the bag, getting myself ready, getting him ready, changing him again because he messed the 1st outfit… the list goes on. Four hours later, I would be out of the door.
Lesson: Do not beat yourself up about things that do not go as planned. Take it in your stride and where possible, have a backup plan, even if it is just a mental note. This applies throughout motherhood!
Overall, motherhood is a breeze, NOT! Kids grow and change so much and once you have passed one stage, you will soon be faced with a new challenge.
As the old saying goes, Keep Calm and Carry on!
You’ve got this!