Updated: Nov 17, 2020
5 things I wish I knew before my first baby – in hindsight, nothing can truly prepare us for motherhood. However, I’m sure you will agree, it may have made our life a little easier if there were a few things we knew beforehand!
1. Newborn may not be your favourite stage
Of course, you are completely smitten with your gorgeous little baby, but that doesn’t mean you need to feel guilty if you aren’t completely ‘loving’ this stage. I’ve often heard people say, newborns are so easy! They just eat, sleep and poop! While this is true to an extent, they also need assistance in doing all of these things! Having a tiny human, 100% dependent on you, is overwhelming and exhausting. As much as I did love the snuggles, I really struggled with the newborn phase, personally. I guess I just had no idea what to really expect, as I had little experience with newborns, and most sources lead me to believe it is a walk in the park! I never knew how many little noises a newborn makes and it used to freak me out. I would check on my son every 2 minutes and would feel scared to even fall asleep – until I learnt it is totally normal! If you are in the newborn phase and also not always loving it– take comfort in knowing you’re not alone! Just because you aren’t loving the crying and sleep deprivation, doesn’t mean you don’t completely love and adore your baby. Rest assured, even though the days can seem long - IT DOES END! I promise you. Before you know it, your tiny baby will be chatting back to you and crying because you won’t let them play in the toilet bowl (mean mummy!). I’m just saying, I wish I’d had a bit more of an idea of the truths about having a newborn and maybe it wouldn’t have been such a shock to my system.
2. Breastfeeding is complex
I could write a whole post on this topic alone. I was so completely naïve about the complexity of breastfeeding! Everyone makes it look so easy! The first three weeks, in particular, were a struggle. I felt awkward, and it became so painful I would cry every single time I fed. In saying that, once I got through the initial phase, it became much easier and a natural part of our day. Let’s just say nipple creams and nipple shields are amazing! The Australian Breastfeeding Association is also an amazing resource, you can call them or just go to their website. I was deeply disappointed I struggled with breastfeeding and wish I’d been a bit more prepared. On a side note, if you are unable to, or decide not to breastfeed, that’s ok too! I combo fed (breastmilk and formula) both my babies from just a few weeks old. You do whatever is right for you and your baby (and of course, if necessary, consult a health care professional). Fed is best!
3. It will change the dynamics of the relationship with your significant other
No matter how stable and awesome your relationship is with your spouse/partner, bringing a new baby into the mix is going to change the dynamics of your relationship. No longer can you give each other the undivided attention and time you once could. The sleep deprivation and emotions that come with being a new parent, can also mean you are both more irritable and irrational, possibly causing more fights than usual. It’s totally normal. It’s important to try keep the lines of communication open and get through it together. Supporting each other through the journey of parenthood and sharing the load is essential. Ask when you need help, cry with each other, laugh together. Let your relationship grow, rather than fall apart. Your life will never be the same, but it can be better.
4. Two words – after birth
Now this is definitely not spoken about enough. After birth pains, the discharge (ewww), the bleeding, the emotions, the weakness and exhaustion. I remember for the first few days, every time I breastfed, I experienced bad abdominal pains. I was told it is because my uterus was contracting back to it’s normal size. It can be quite alarming if you aren’t prepared for this and think something is seriously wrong with you! I also remember feeling so weak after giving birth, my husband had to hold the giant nappy (and yes, I mean nappy) so I could step into it, as I physically did not have the strength to do it myself (now that’s a whole new level of closeness). People often speak about pregnancy and labour, even newborns, but many avoid the after birth truths. It may take a while for things to heal and feel normal, but trust me, they will. Just listen to your body and take it easy. Focus on taking care of yourself and your new bundle of joy (and consult a health care professional where necessary!)
5. Labour is unpredictable
Talk to any mum and you can almost guarantee they have at least one interesting labour story to tell (whether it be their own or someone they know). I had two very different experiences – my first, I was overdue and induced, and my second, my waters broke naturally. There are so many different options available now in today’s technology, and of course we all have an idea of what we would like - painkillers/water birth/epidural/c-section etc. However, it is important to keep an open mind, that in the end, the baby’s safe arrival is most important. Don’t be too upset if you end up having to get a c-section after you really didn’t want to, or feel guilty for caving and getting that epidural. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself – labour is an unforgettable experience, that no one can truly relate to, until they’ve been there themselves. It is best for all if you try to just remain calm and follow the baby’s needs.
These are my 5 things I wish I knew before my first baby - what are yours?
Keep Smiling Mamas,