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What Would You Tell Your Pregnant Self?
However much you research birth and babies, some things are only ever learned on the job, says new mum Bryony Gordon
When I found out that I was expecting Edie, my first baby, I bought every (and I mean absolutely every) book on pregnancy I could find in the hope I might have a vague clue what was going to happen. But now, with a one year old, Im still not much clearer on the crazy, amazing journey that is motherhood. But I do know this: everything I thought I had sussed, I soon discovered I hadnthellip;
Nine months of wonder and always getting a seat on public transport? Nope, I got chronic heartburn, meaning I couldnt sleep and, when I did, Id wake up half an hour later wanting to vomit. Plus, I was paranoid about the health of my baby, spending most days with the heartbeat monitor Id bought clamped to my stomach. And everything hurt, from my head to my lsquo;downstairs. So. Not. Fun!
Its a short stage and one that you end up being strangely nostalgic about later when you remember those incredible kicks, or seeing that little heartbeat on a scan. And when it does end, it is all so worth it.
I had grand plans during my pregnancy. This former chain smoker and tequila slammer was going to come over all eco-friendly, using only cotton wool and water on her baby and certainly nothing chemical-based. My child was going to be as pure as the day she were born. Which would obviously be in the bath using not so much as a puff of gas and air.
Although I hugely admire women who are bringing up eco-babies, Im just not that person. For me, wipes are essential. And those nappy creams like Sudocrem or Metanium? They actually work! So, relax and do what works for you.
lsquo;Get your rest while you still can, said one parent I knew, as if sleep was something you could actually stockpile. lsquo;Youll never have lie-ins again, said another. As someone known to like her kip, I was terrified.
OK, the midday lie-ins are definitely gone, but newborns sleep loads at first. And maybe Im one of the exceptions to the rule but, honestly, I get better quality sleep now than when I was out partying until 6am. Thanks to becoming a mum, Ive finally mastered the art of the early night ndash; oh yes, Im under the duvet by 9pm.
Again and again, I was advised to write a birth plan, as if Id have any control over my body during labour. So I did, to the last detail, and told everyone I wanted a water birth. Then ended up getting induced and having an emergency c-section, all of which made me wish Id saved some energy and spent it buying Percy Pigs for my hospital bag.
Over-preparing for your birth is like going on holiday and reading a guidebook that only tells you about the flight. Read up and plan for it, of course, but also spend time finding out about how to change a nappy or swaddle a baby. Because it can be a real shock when youre faced with taking home your little person with no idea how to look after her.
‘Jerry Hall told me: “It’s like really bad period pains and doing a poo”‘
I was convinced giving birth would be a terrible experience. But halfway through my pregnancy, I interviewed Jerry Hall. She told me that having a baby would feel like nothing new to me. lsquo;Its all familiar sensations, honey, she said. lsquo;Like really bad period pains and doing a poo. I was (slightly) reassured.
I actually enjoyed my birth, even though I ended up being wheeled into theatre. Some women are so focused on having the lsquo;perfect birth that any intervention feels totally devastating. As long as the baby comes out healthy, its all fine.
I assumed it would be as easy as fixing a bottle to a tap (but slightly more tender, obviously). After all, I had breasts and they would make milk. All good to go.
That does happen for some women, who blissfully breastfeed for years. But I was surprised to find the whole process very difficult. I barely made any milk and I spent hours trying to pump it out. Delirious with fatigue, I gave up at three weeks and used formula. But whether you go for breast or bottle, the best thing for your baby is often whats best for you.
I imagined a switch would be flicked the second my baby emerged, but I remember looking at my newborn daughter and feeling a bit, you know, meh. lsquo;Im not sure I love her yet, I told my husband, an hour after she was born. lsquo;Go to sleep, he replied. lsquo;Youre off your face on morphine.
Its normal not to enjoy the first few months. I was tired, uncomfortable and overwhelmed. But then my baby turned 10 weeks, and was smiling, and I forgot what it was I was getting all het up about. In fact, I cant imagine a life before her.
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