When I was pregnant for the first time, I read every magazine and spent hours online to prepare myself for the big change that was coming. I thought nothing would surprise me - but I couldn't have been more wrong! Here are five things I wish I'd known prior to giving birth.
1- You're expected to care for your baby.
Ok, confession time: I forgot to change my baby's nappy for the first 12 hours after he was born. Not only that, but I also forgot to feed him. I feel horrible just writing this, because of course it's obviously obvious. Except I was exhausted and it didn't occur to me that I should care for him since nobody asked me to do so (yes... I was VERY tired). So we both slept, all night, blissfully content. And I didn't tell the midwife the next morning when she asked me if my son had plenty of wet nappies. I sheepishly said yes, proceeded to change his nappy for the first time and ooh! A poo.
2- You're expected to know how to care for your baby.
After I realised that I was the mum and that I didn't need to ask for permission before caring for my baby (duh), it soon dawned on me that I had never cared for a baby before. How was I supposed to clean his umbilical cord? Was I allowed to do it with my eyes shut, because, really, it looks horrible? How often did I have to bathe him? Was I meant to cut his fingernails? I had no idea. Luckily my mum stayed with me for a few days and I just pretended to "let her" look after her first grandson. She didn't make fun of me when I asked, although she did laugh when she saw Mat change his first nappy as he was taking ages (I even took a video, so I have proof. I would post it here but it's reaaaally long.)
3- You still look pregnant after you've had your baby.
When I walked into the maternity unit for the first time, I crossed path with a young mum-to-be. Or so I thought, as it turned out she had given birth the day before... I'm so glad I didn't say anything stupid to her (you know, like "I bet you can't wait to meet your baby!") Sure enough, a few days after I had William, I still looked about 5 months pregnant. And yes there are some women who lose their bellies straight away (I was one of those when I had my second)... But it's worh keeping in mind that for most women it takes a few weeks (sometimes months) for things to get back to normal. Which brings me to my fourth point...
4- When they say "get back to normal", they don't mean it.
It doesn't get back to normal. There is no "normal" anymore. I was suprised at how much my body changed during and after pregnancy. Today it looks different, but I love it.
5- There is such a thing as "mum guilt".
Am I a bad mum for putting that nappy on backwards? I'm not sure I should have used lotion on him. Am I a bad mum for choosing to bottle feed? I can't believe I forgot to burp him. Am I a bad mum for wishing I didn't have to get up in the middle of the night? I shouldn't have let him on his own. Am I a bad mum for using baby wipes when everyone else is using cotton wool and water? Etc. But when I feel this mum guilt, I remind myself that God looks at the heart. There is no need to feel guilty. I am doing my best and my best is the best I can do :)
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