One of my oldest friends is having her first baby. So naturally I found myself compelled to tell her EVERYTHING. Then I remembered being pregnant for the first time … Oh shit. Advice overload!
When you become pregnant with your first baby, suddenly people (even people who don’t know you very well) feel the need to offer unsolicited advice. As a well educated 28 year old women I had people speaking to me as if I was stupid. Telling me what I MUST do. What I definitely shouldn’t do. And how many different ways I could fuck up a small humans life.
I took nothing from this advice! It got to the point where I would just zone it out. You see, a first time pregnant mum is in a bubble, they know deep down that there will be sleepless nights and they’ve heard the horror stories about parenting. But they all tell themselves that they will be different. I know I did!
I wouldn’t be making the same mistakes I had seen my friends make. The baby would know who the boss was and would just have to fit into our lives – I know, I know but I now think this delusion is a coping mechanism for first time mums! Until you’re in the middle of parenting you can’t ever take anything in fully. It would be like telling a soldier how to react to bloodshed, all the training in the world can’t prepare you for something like that and only when it happens can your body react.
So here is what I have left* …
• Bank all the advice.
Certain pearls of wisdom will come back to you at your weakest moments when you will be prepared to try anything. My nan told me to put cabbages in the fridge for when my boobs would become engorged. This made me raise my eyebrows until one night I was in so much pain I sent hubby out to Tesco vegetable aisle! Or when my son would get constipated and my mum had told me to give him some cooled boiled water with sugar – I was horrified at the thought unil I had exhausted everything else and it worked in 5 min! Nod along to every bit of crazy advice and smile. Never say never.
• Trust your instincts.
Sometimes the professionals don’t see what you have seen. If you are not happy with the advice from anyone then you are entitled to ask for a second opinion. Don’t be scared to stand up if you don’t feel your concerns aren’t being taken seriously. Don’t be fobbed off with the ‘Oh she’s a new mum’ and ergo is over reacting bullshit you may encounter.
• Don’t believe in all the social media bollocks.
No one has a perfect baby or a perfect life. Not everyone is going to bed every night #blessed and waking up cherishing every minute. It’s ok to not be ok. Please, please speak to someone if you are struggling. Even a little bit. Struggling with parenthood doesn’t make you a failure. Talking it through can make a difference and letting people in can open up support networks. (Also in the opposite camp not everyone is having a shit time either, social media bollocks works both ways and I hold my hands up to exploiting the bad bits to make comedy out of it for entertainments sake like THIS – if I don’t laugh I’ll cry!)
• Choose your squad.
Don’t feel like you have to join in every group and become best mates with every woman who has also birthed a human. Just because you are parents doesn’t mean you will have enough in common to maintain a friendship so don’t feel guilty about that. Online groups can be great – I feel really close to a group I joined – but for every great group there are horror stories and some truly horrible groups with chatrooms full of aggressive chat! Do what’s right for you. If you don’t feel comfortable socialising straight away don’t worry this is the one time you can give yourself a break. Also don’t feel guilty if you grow away from people. Everyone grows up but not everyone grows together. Some friendships just naturally finish and although it’s a bit sad it would be much worse to continue pumping effort into something for the sake of it. You only have limited resourses, use them wisely. The friends you have when your baby turns one will probably be with you forever.
• Keep one end clean and the other end fed.
Applies to you and baby!!
• Try REALLY hard to remember that whatever you are going through it won’t last forever.
And no one has ever died from sleep depravation (that we know of!)
• Do it your own way.
If you want to spend every day gazing at your baby then do it – don’t feel guilted into doing other stuff. I have seen mums who just are so in awe of their new baby that it becomes their everything. If that makes you happy then it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. Also if you want to get out or just get on with anything then do it. Other mums don’t want their lives to change they want to go straight back to work. Just as we are different as women we are different as mothers.
• Try really hard to ignore the judgement.
Every choice you make will have someone rolling their eyes. As much as everyone thinks they are goody goody judgement free modern women the instant they see someone do something they don’t agree with they make a snap judgement. We’ve all done it. The trick is to remember that we are all flawed.
So, what was the worst piece of advice you were given?
What advice would you give to a new mum?
As always get in touch I love to hear from you.
* Any advice given here is purely personal and you should always seek out the advice of your medical practitioner in the first instance.