Even only a few months into my life as a mother, there are already things I would have done differently during my pregnancy and in the early days post-birth, some of which didn’t even cross my mind beforehand. From planning ahead to being a little more selfish, here are a few things I would change – which will hopefully be something for mums-to-be to think about too.
Prepare more for motherhood rather than just birth
By the time I reached my third trimester I’d learned more about pregnancy and birth than I ever did at school. I could tell you what fruit or vegetable my baby’s size equated to each week and give a detailed insight into the stages of labour, but I didn’t really prepare so much for what happened beyond the birth – being a mother! Beyond my antenatal classes which only briefly touched upon how to change a nappy, bath and feed your newborn, I wish I’d educated myself a bit more on things like baby’s sleep, how to stimulate and play with your baby to aid development, and even think a bit more about what type of parent I hoped to be.
Drown out all the noise about what I should be doing
Like many new parents, I felt overwhelmed in the very early days with information on what I should and shouldn’t be doing – much of which was contradictory – and ultimately made me feel like I was doing everything wrong. Whether it was contentious issues like baby’s sleep – and the whole issue of putting them down ‘drowsy but awake’, or when and how to feed my baby, I wish I’d relied a little less on Google and more on my own intuition. Since doing so I’ve continued to happily feed my baby to sleep, respond to his cries throughout the night and parent responsively, and feel a lot happier in my decisions to do so, knowing that if it works for us there’s nothing wrong with that.
Focus more on my own recovery
In all honesty, I think I underestimated the impact that pregnancy and childbirth would take on me, and I probably rushed too quickly to be active again afterwards. Like so many new mums, within a week of giving birth I was pushing myself to go out for walks with the pram and entertained visitors, when in reality I was so tired I could barely string a sentence together and needed to take some time to recover before doing so much. My advice? Be a little more selfish, take some time to rest and let your visitors look after you, not the other way around!
Batch cook beforehand
This is something I had planned to do in the last couple of weeks before my due date, but a surprise early arrival at 36 weeks meant I didn’t have chance. It would have been so helpful to us both if we had a freezer full of nutritious meals to reheat in the early days, taking one less thing off our to do lists when we were both so tired. I have since also discovered that Cook offers a bundle of meals for new parents – an amazing gift if you’re looking to treat anyone who has just had a baby!
Expect less from each day
After over a decade in full-time work, I had got used to being productive every day and ticking lots off my to do list. So I found it hard some days to get used to a new slower pace with a newborn, where it sometimes felt like an achievement to be dressed by midday. But now I would cut myself a little bit more slack; the housework can wait, and what’s most important is spending time with your baby, recuperating and bonding. Since learning to expect a little less from myself and being more realistic of what I can achieve in one day I’m much happier.
Take more photos
I have taken thousands of photos of my son in the past few months, but not enough with me in – especially in the very early days. Conscious of my tired postpartum appearance, I probably refrained from taking as many photos featuring me as I wish I had. This also wasn’t helped by spending our first three days alone in hospital and living much of our son’s first six months in lockdown!
What would you do differently as a new mum if you were given the opportunity?