When we were trying to conceive, I was lucky enough not to be surrounded by many close friends or family who were pregnant. Even though the strangers and colleagues still got to me, it is nothing compared to to how I’d have felt if I was trying now. This year I know 9 women who are expecting and I couldn’t be happier. A few of these have also struggled to start their own little families and I have felt their pain with them. Now that their little bundles are on their way, I can’t wait to welcome them into the mummy club.
Like in any club there are just a few things they need to know. So to help my soon to be mummy friends, I’ve drawn up a list of some of the things I learnt.
- Everyone has an opinion | I mean everyone from your granny to the lady in the post office, your mum, sister and every friend will have their own thoughts on every aspect of your parenting. The decent ones will either keep quiet or show that they respect your decisions. However this parenting lark has some controversial topics and you may find yourself trying to tactfully navigate these when you least expect. Everything from feeding, sleeping, dummies, swaddling, and car seats are hot topics that can pop up anytime.
- Trust you gut | Try as you might, you can’t listen to everything everyone tells you and so you need to trust that you know your baby best and know what is right for you and your family.
- Breastfeeding is hard | If your are planning on giving breastfeeding your best shot, I strongly advise you do your homework before the baby arrives. Faced with a screaming, hungry baby, is no time to be googling. Watch YouTube video that show how to get a good latch and save them. Read about the different position to try and the possible barriers you might face. Forewarned is forearmed.
- Take all the help | If they offer say yes. No one is going to be offering and secretly hoping you say no. Even if it’s just so you can grab a quick shower or sort some laundry, there is no need to struggle alone. If no one offers, ask! It’s likely you’re putting on such a good show of coping that everyone thinks you’re doing just fine. Don’t wait until you’re overwhelmed. Your friends and family will want to be there.
- Buy second hand | Of course there is something special about buying some bits for your new arrival but the baby industry is full of pointless gadgets and gizmos that you just don’t need. Most of these get used for a few weeks and so buying second hand is a great way to get everything you want without forking out. I barely buy any clothes new. Between immaculate hand -me-downs, eBay, car-boots and Facebook selling sites, I’d be crazy to pay full price.
- Don’t get sucked in | Just because everyone else is doing something, doesn’t mean you have to. Personally, I wanted to keep my babies as babies for as long as possible and so I can count on one hand the number of times I actually dressed them in proper clothes in the first six months. Babygrows are adorable and so much more comfortable than elasticated waists and tops with buttons. They are also so much more practical for nappy changing. But hey that just my opinion – make your own choice.
- Take lots of photos | Obvious maybe but not just of the cute stuff. I have a few snaps of my living room in carnage. There is stuff everywhere and the room is full of bouncers and Moses baskets and play mats. This stage doesn’t last long and you’ll soon have a room back and forget what it was like. Snap the good, bad and ugly. They are all memories you’ll want to look back on.
- Get a cleaner | Maybe this isn’t realistic for some but you need to be prepared for the fact that raising a baby is full on and full time. Cleaning and general house stuff is going to need to go on the back burner for a while. Naively, I thought I’d have more time than when I was working full time. Nope!
- Get out | Yes it may be a hassle to wriggle a tiny baby into a car seat. Yes it’s easier to just curl up and pretend the world isn’t out there but trust me the fresh air will do you good. After your initial recovery, go for short walks or find a local group. However many mummy friends you have it’s also nice to meet some first time mummy’s in the same boat.
- Don’t make plans | Now is not the time to be thinking of a career move, a new house or long haul holiday. If possible, try not to make any big decisions until you have that little one in your arms. However much you think you are prepared, you just can’t predict how you are going to feel in the next few months. Avoid return to work conversations for a good while. Ideally you don’t want to be telling your boss one thing and then doing a complete u-turn.
Finally, enjoy as much as you can. Everyday won’t be amazing but there will be something amazing in everyday. Get ready for the roller coaster…it’s a fast one.