I bet the majority of mothers will research and research until they could probably recite the ’10 must haves for a baby’ or ‘what not to do when the baby arrives’ or ‘the ultimate baby bible’, but until you have your own and things start happening where you think, hang about now, I didn’t read this or hear about this! Why is this happening?!. You are not alone! Textbook baby is useless, okay, not completely useless. I did learn an awful lot, textbook style. But actual life lessons, now that took me by surprise a bit. If I was in the blogging world a bit more, then maybe I would have heard a bit more about real life mums. But alas, I didn’t, and had to find out by myself.
1. Birth plans are not set in stone
Alright, this is kind of a lie. I knew that my birth plan was not going to be set in stone. But it was only after the midwife told me that. Up until then, I made a rigid birth plan. I wanted this to happen, this to happen all in order etc. I even put I wanted minimal vaginal examinations, haha! But honestly, when I went into hospital and being in labour my birth plan was NOTHING like I wanted it to be. And to be honest, I couldn’t give a rats arse who was looking and fiddling around with my hoo-ha by the end of it. I wanted a water birth with minimal pain relief and an epidural as a last option. What did I end up with? Gas and air, epidural, induction and an emergency c-section. My advice to you is keep an open mind when going into labour. Anything can happen and change during your stay in hospital so make sure you research your options and ask your midwife about those options too.
2. Don’t feel pressured or guilty into breastfeeding
Okay, I acknowledge that breast is best and I wouldn’t discourage anyone from breastfeeding. But I don’t think that women should feel guilty for their choices at all. As-long as the baby is fed then that’s all that should matter. However, I didn’t realise just how pressured I felt into breastfeeding. Don’t get me wrong, I wanted to breastfeed for as-long as possible. I ensured that Joseph had the colostrum milk that will help protect him from infection. I also breastfed for my time in hospital and I think for almost four weeks after that. But during my hospital stay, I switched to combination feeding. I had such an exhausting time at hospital, I was physically and mentally drained. I have never felt tiredness like I had and on top of have a c-section, I just felt so useless. I remember being in hospital and Mathew stayed overnight so I could get some sleep (Joseph was like the best out of all the babies on the ward and was sleeping for long stretches in the night!). Ended up not sleeping (some woman on the ward thought it would be delightful to use the cry it out method on their newborn) and Joseph ended up waking up for a feed anyway. So I breastfed Joseph but he would not stop crying and kept rooting and rooting. I had the midwives coming in telling me that he wasn’t latching properly so I had every Tom, Dick and Harry fiddling with my breasts and a very upset baby and a very, very, tired and grumpy mum. I didn’t wan to give up so I tried and tried and he would just not settle. So with exhaustion I asked for formula.
I still continued to breastfeed the next morning with an open mind, but again he just would not latch properly and kept rooting for more. By mid-day, the midwife obviously had passed on that I requested formula and the paediatric dietitian had come over to ask me why I had asked for formula. I got quite taken back by this as I felt like saying ‘none of your business’ but I explained anyway and she suggested that I combination fed but eventually moving back onto breastfeeding. I was still too tired to care so I just agreed and she gave me leaflets. What if I said no to breastfeeding, would I be shamed for it? Back home I continued to combination breast and formula but eventually transitioned to formula as he was just hungry all the time and wasn’t getting enough milk from my breast.
I would have loved to breastfeed but it just wasn’t going to happen for me. I read quite a lot everywhere of mums being bashed on their choices and I don’t think it’s fair at all. Please don’t feel pressured or feel bad into not breastfeeding. Do what’s best for you and your baby. You will feel a whole lot better for it. Also, if you are breastfeeding and are struggling, don’t hesitate to get support from others too!
I wish I was educated more or educated myself more about breastfeeding, I thought it would come naturally but nope. Wrong.
3. Don’t listen to the ‘you’ll never sleep again’ scaremongers!
I get a lot of my friends coming up to me and saying ‘how’s the sleepless nights going?’ and I’m like ‘I don’t have any’ and the look on their faces! Okay, this actually might not relate to everyone as I do hear nightmare stories. But for me, my sleeping pattern has hardly taken a battering. Joseph has pretty much slept through the night since day one. The first couple of days he actually slept right through and up until around five/six weeks he only used to get up once for a feed. Now he sleeps through the night no problem. Which is a godsend. But I still seem to struggle. I don’t know how you super mums who get zero sleep and still manage to look human and get stuff done. I’m the complete opposite haha! But don’t listen to all the scare stories as every baby is different.
4. How tough recovering from a c-section would be
This was a major blank space for me. If you read my birth story post, then you’d find that deep down, I wanted a c-section (I know, how foolish and naive, right?). But boy, was I in for a surprise. Firstly, I felt the incision as the top-up epidural and spinal tap failed. Secondly, I was put under general anaesthesia so didn’t get to hold or see my baby for four hours. And thirdly, the pain when I woke up hit me like a tonne of bricks. Honestly, I don’t ever want to experience pain like that again. I was put on pain relief but that only goes so far. Simple things like moving, coughing, laughing was so difficult to do. I couldn’t even look after Joseph as well as I wanted to because of the pain. The first shower was the worst too which I didn’t realise how hard it’ll be. Blood everywhere, not being able to even go near the scar or bend or lift. Then shuffling back to your bed to lay down again just to ease off the pain. I am so grateful for the support of my boyfriend and family for helping me after birth. Do not be afraid to ask for help as you’ll definitely need it. Also me thinking I’d bounce right back and start exercising and all that again! WRONG! My tummy still gets sore and it’s been almost four months. My little ‘pouch’ is numb almost (I can’t be alone on this one?). I am however, exercising but avoiding ab exercises. I also didn’t know the medication you take after a c-section, having to inject needles to prevent blood clots into your stomach is one of them.
I didn’t realise how much you swell during birth! I was the size of a balloon. During theatre they found it so difficult to find a vein because of how puffy I was. My legs looked like tree trunks and felt so weird to touch! Thankfully this swelling goes down eventually along with a lot of weight being shed (lose win?).
6. Hair loss
Oh man am I losing a lot of hair. About three months postpartum is started happening. I am hoping to god it grows back all fine. I didn’t know about this really, so I was in for a shock when clumps just started coming out. How glamorous.
My moods were all over the place after birth. I was crying, angry, euphoric, depressed, helpless, useless, feeling on top of the world. Night sweats, you name it! I felt like I was going crazy. I used to feel so guilty of feeling depressed and feeling like I was spiralling out of control and being a selfish mum. But it’s okay to feel like it and just talking about it helps a lot. I got overwhelmed with how different things were in such a short amount of time. I just kept replaying memories of time before the baby and how free I was in my old life. This passed and now I could never imagine my life with Joseph and I love him with all my heart. But just know that it’s totally normal to miss aspects of your old life time to time.
8. The ‘essentials’ you need
Probably an advertising gimmick. You probably do not need 80% said essentials. I’ll cover this in another post pretty soon.
I think this is pretty much all of the major points covered. I am so tired right now that my brain is fried so I can’t think of anymore. I cannot wait to greet my bed.
I guess in a way, it’s kind of good that I didn’t know about some of these things as I wouldn’t be worrying over them.
What about you, is there anything you wish you knew before being a mum?