When I was pregnant with my first babe I had pregnancy advice coming at me left, right and centre; all of it well-intentioned, some of it contradictory, and most of it going in one ear and out the other because #pregnancybrain followed by #sleepdeprivation. With some of the advice, my well-intentioned friends might as well have been speaking another language. Now that I have two babies, and the benefit of hindsight, I thought I’d put pen to paper in case it may be useful to someone else out there.
- 1. There is no ‘right’ cot/bassinet/pram/car seat/insert other high value baby goods here.
I am not an efficient person. My usual modus operandi is to over-research in a haphazard way, second-guess my decision, third-guess my decision and then return to my original decision, having achieved nothing that I couldn’t have achieved in 1/17th the time I actually spent. But beyond choosing something that meets safety standards there really isn’t a ‘right’ and a ‘wrong’ decision. And even if there was, your baby probably wouldn’t realise it.
2. Use the time before baby is born to rest.
Oh lord, I really really REALLY wish I’d taken this pregnancy advice. Instead, I ran around like a woman who’d had her first taste of freedom from the 9-5 in about 15 years… catching up with friends, not resting, going for long walks, not resting, buying random baby things I’d never use, not resting etc. etc. etc. until labour. And let me tell you, I have not rested since.
3. Don’t stress about having the nursery set up before bub arrives.
I was hell-bent on having Alfie’s nursery perfectly set up in time for my baby shower, which was about two months before he was even due… talk about unnecessary pressure! And given we didn’t move him out of our room and into said nursery until he was around 10 weeks (when his strange grunting sleep noises finally got the better of us), there was about 4.5 months that the nursery was useful to exactly zero people. I learned from my mistakes with Charlie, whose cot was madly hammered together the day that we moved him into it.
4. Have an idea of how you’d like your baby’s birth to go, but be flexible and listen to the experts.
OK to be fair I did listen to this pregnancy advice. I’d had dreams of a drug-free birth, picturing myself relaxing in a warm bath as the contractions washed over me like waves on a beach… hahahaha good lord I was naive. At 36 weeks we found out that there were some issues with Alfie’s growth, and so we made a plan for induction right on term (assuming I didn’t go into labour naturally beforehand). If you aren’t aware, induction speeds up the process of labour so your body doesn’t have enough time to produce the oxytocin to help counteract the pain, and it comes on F A S T. These factors, among others that are too far above my pay grade to understand, mean that you’re more likely to need an epidural with an induced labour. And need I did. Was it the way I dreamt things would go? No. But did that matter, when I held a healthy (albiet scrawny) baby in my arms? Also no.
After the trauma of Alfie’s birth, I became quite anxious as Charlie’s due date drew nearer. Particularly as he was shaping up to be almost a kilo heavier than Alfie was. At around 38 weeks we made the decision to have an elective caesarean. It was an emotional decision for me, but the right one. My physical and mental recovery was tens of times better than it was with Alfie.
5. Don’t get carried away with cutesie newborn clothes… onesies all the way for the first few months
Baby clothes are probably the sweetest little things on earth, and it’s possible that I went a little overboard on some of the less practical items. Sure, some people are all about dressing their tiny tot up for every outing they make, but it turns out that I am not one of those people. All my boys wore for the first few months of their lives were zip-up onesies and I cannot recommend this approach highly enough. Spending half your life re-adjusting your little one’s clothing is not a good time.
6. Don’t feel uncomfortable asking unvaccinated friends and family not to visit until after your babe has ben vaccinated
I don’t know why this is such an uncomfortable conversation, but even though I knew it was my family, and my choice, I never quite knew how to approach the conversation with friends and family. But if the COVID-19 pandemic has taught me anything, it’s that there are still a lot of people out there who don’t take risks seriously, and that means my family’s health is my responsibility and my decision (and I don’t need to feel weird about it!).
7. You may not feel like exercising again straight away
This piece of pregnancy advice was possibly the most shocking for me. I remember having a conversation with my Pilates teacher a few weeks before Alfie was due, and telling her quite confidently that I’d be back on deck before my six-week post-natal check. LOL. Nearly three years later and I’m still navigating a bumpy return to training.
and on that…
8. Be proud of your new body
You’ve just grown a human, carried him for nine months, then birthed him… that’s kind of a big deal. And whether you had an easy or difficult pregnancy, whether you gave birth vaginally or via a caesarean section, whether you developed stretch marks, have loose skin, pelvic floor issues, or whether you have all or none of the above, I’ll say it again… you grew, carried and birthed a baby!
I have spent most of my adult life priding myself on my strength and fitness and – on a more subconscious level – the aesthetic benefits of being strong and fit, so it was quite a humbling experience to realise that there were many things my body could no longer do particularly well. From the physical (like running) to the vanity-driven (like filling out the butt of a pair of jeans). But as I continue to work through these changes, as I will be doing for quite some time, I have a growing sense of pride of all the things my body CAN do. Like make a toddler feel safe in the middle of the night and nourish a baby with milk produced by my own body.
Phew. There you have it. If little of it makes sense to you yet, bookmark this page and come back to it a little further down the track. Motherhood is a riiiiiiiiiiiide and until you actually jump on, it’s hard to imagine what it’s going to be like.
ps. Obviously this is all based on my pregnancy and birth stories, so take it as sharing based on personal experiences only… because every mum is different, and so is every baby.
Is there any pregnancy advice you wish you’d taken? Share it in the comments below!