Sometimes I think being pregnant is the WORST possible preparation you can have for having a baby. If you think about it, when you’re pregnant (certainly the first time), everyone makes you cups of tea. Your partner might even cook you a delicious meal and massage your feet. You get LOADS of attention. People give you creams to rub into your belly and aching back. People might even help you carry your heavy bag if you’re struggling on the stairs. And you get a LOT OF SLEEP (it can be uncomfortable being pregnant but at this stage you’re only really dealing with your own discomfort).
And then if you’re lucky you go on maternity leave and you get to watch TV and sleep. The problem is that if you already have a kid then you basically carry on the same as before… but I’m focusing on the first child here.
Many women find the first child and the transition from ME into MUM tough. I started to think about why that might be. First there’s all the stuff around the huge weight of responsibility you suddenly have (and the older you are the more this sometimes prays on your mind). Second you have the physical fall out and the fact that your body has been through a major life event but you’re not given that much time to recover. But then thirdly that other big thing you have is that contrast between your PREGNANT state (people looking after you, support, sleep, attention, nice hot cups of tea, bliss) and the NO LONGER PREGNANT/WITH A BABY state (people ignoring you and only talking to the baby, maybe not so much support, no sleep, lack of attention, lukewarm cups of tea, agony).
Is it any surprise that first time Mums find it hard to adjust? I experienced this first-hand myself. I was a week and a half overdue. If I look back on it now, the last two months of my pregnancy and I was basically living like Kate Moss in a 5 Star Spa Resort in Thailand (a slightly out of shape Moss). I had my feet up. I watched OODLES of TV. I had delicious meals. I flicked through magazines. I also did nice things around the house like stick nice stickers all over the nursery. Imagine my horror when after a birth I can only describe as medieval, I came home (stitches, anaemia – quite a lot tired) and I’d fallen into a parallel universe. NO SLEEP. NO HOT FOOD. NO ONE VERY INTERESTED IN ME ANYMORE. Look I don’t want to come across as selfish but it was hard.
And to top it all off I still looked like a pregnant woman.
“Still not had the baby?’ my neighbour shouted cheerily across at me one grey, dreary morning. It had been three weeks since the event.
‘No I’m just fat now,’ I replied.
When you’re pregnant, your bump is gorgeous and a source of intrigue (people want to touch it all the time which is weird) but once you have a baby and still have a bump? Well you’re just fat and tired I’m afraid…
So here’s my 10 TIPS on how to make that transition much easier. These will help prepare for those early days of parenthood.
- Set an alarm every two hours. Set it at high volume and make sure the sound is really stressful to get maximum impact. Run around the room in a state of high panic and don’t allow yourself to go back to sleep for at least two hours
- Get dressed at 5am and then chuck milk all over your clothes
- Spray wet patches on your T-shirt at nipple level
- Brush your hair backwards so it’s standing up
- Stop brushing your teeth
- Practice eating with one hand. Ensure food is always cold
- Ditto with tea (also cold)
- When you go outside imagine that no one can see you and that they’re only looking at the person in your buggy
- Start only talking about the baby and its eating/drinking/sleeping habits
- Ignore your partner and only communicate with them when you’re super angry. Swear a lot (this is useful for them – they’ll find it hard to deal with this fat, angry you otherwise)
And also another tip- keep wearing that ‘Baby on Board’ badge after you’ve had the baby. In fact make yourself a NEW badge that says ‘A Nice Hot Cup of Tea Please,’ and wear it at all times. I think every new Mum should be given one of these badges when they come home.
Oh and I forgot one major thing. Probably the most important thing. It might not be immediate. It might come days, or even months later, but prepare to feel a strange tug in your heart. Sometimes this tug will make everything feel light and woozy. Other times it’ll make you wonder what you were doing with your life all this time. It might even feel more like there’s a giant sun shining into your eyes.
Love can be pretty overwhelming.
originally published on Aug 11, 2016