Ahh (sigh of relief)… me time. Trust me, you will need to take some time out to pamper yourself. Make every effort to do so, because “me time” when baby arrives is a toilet break. In my case, heavily pregnant as I was, I couldn’t get out of the bath tub without assistance from a person – i.e the husband, so long, relaxed baths were pretty much dependent on when he was home. If my morning sickness wasn’t that bad, I would have spent more time on this, seeing as I did get a pamper kit from my baby shower.
My experience of a baby shower was like that of a wedding – weddings are usually enjoyed thoroughly by the guests, as they haven’t had to plan and are none the wiser as to what has gone wrong. Don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy my baby shower, however in hindsight there was some advice that I could have done with, and without. Everyone concentrates on the “usual suspects” and others seem to think this is a time to be as rude as you want. I mean, if you like being vulgar, that’s fine, just check with the actual mom-to-be first, please! After all, we all know what I did to get pregnant, and no, I’m not about to tell you “how” I had mine when I was 34 weeks pregnant (just over 7 months) so that we had enough time to sort out baby’s nursery, and for peace of mind just in case baby came early.
Mine wasn’t a surprise – we both don’t do surprises for different reasons. If the venue or food etc fall below my standards/ expectations, you will know. I don’t have a good poker face, let’s put it that way. I also like to be genuine with people, most of the time and I believe that one needs to be in control of key life events. My husband is just a control freak – that’s his excuse. But if you like surprises, more power to you.
I got a lot of advice on:
- personal hygiene – the extended period, bathing every day, smell of milk. And yes, breast milk
does smell, so loads of laundry is required.
- Making an effort for my man – just in case he legs it and finds someone else. Why shouldn’t he
be making the effort for me? I’m the one that’s endured body changes beyond his wildest
imagination, experienced and survived labor, birthed his offspring, had stitches in places I
never thought possible, and am now the primary care giver to our child- and I’m the one that needs to go all out? Something is not right with that picture.
- Meeting my husband’s sexual needs – see above point. When you give birth, you basically have an open wound in your womb, and sex is definitely out of the window for at least six weeks, as that’s how long it takes to get yourself back together in there. If he doesn’t understand that, then you need to question your choice of sperm donor. You certainly don’t want to risk acquiring some infection, and I’m not talking STDs here.
- Sleep when baby sleeps – very funny. Have you tried sleeping with adrenaline pumping through your system? This might work for some, but didn’t for me as when baby was asleep I wanted to go to the loo for a wee and more, I wanted to eat, I wanted to be reunited with my iPhone, the list goes on. So unless your willpower is badass, go for it.
The advice that I found really useful:
- nipple cream is a must if you plan on breastfeeding. It will get you through the dark days of establishing your feeds and the constant assault on your nipples.
- Breast pads are essential when breastfeeding, as your boobs will leak at the most opportune times, so carry loads with you wherever you go. I’m not talking a leak that consists of 5 drops, I’m talking water sprinkler, shower head kind of leak. Anything in the path of the nipple will get soaked – you’ve been warned. That’s why I don’t breastfeed in public, as my sprinklers are activated by baby sucking, then I also have to calm them down, whilst I calm her down.
- Not to panic when baby girl has some vaginal secretions (mini-period) – it’s normal, it’s just my hormones affecting her.
- Keep area around umbilical cord dry and clean – obvious reasons.
- Maintain your pre-baby routine – they need to fit in, not the other way round.
- Don’t buy fancy clothes – they will outgrow them quickly and sometimes never wear them. You just need a lot of baby gro outfits.
- Growth spurts can be tough on a breastfeeding mother – baby will feed like 24/7. This is where nipple cream comes in handy. Babies are born with a tummy the size of a golf ball, this will get bigger at 3 days old, then 5 days old and carry on… that’s why they wake up at night for food.
The advice I think we should be adding at these events:
- breastfeeding can be difficult to get going and flipping painful – initially, baby’s mouth is small and your nipple is ginormous. It’s like being asked to bite half an apple in one go. There is a skill to breastfeeding as baby has to learn to latch and you gotta learn to teach baby to latch. Have you ever scratched the back of the roof of your mouth with your tongue? Your nipple needs to find itself there for baby to get the most out of a feed. If your nipple is at the front of her mouth, it will feel like you are grating a sensitive nipple with a cheese grater. Not nice! I now understand why some mothers give up… It can take weeks for some mothers to master the art. So ladies, let’s teach each other about how to breastfeed.
- If you want your husband to be involved express milk into a bottle so he can feed baby too…that way the baby gets used to your nipple and the bottle early. Keep bottle feeds to a minimum if you intend to breastfeed, as the bottle is easier for the baby and she might end up preferring it to the breast.
- Give your husband a job – make him in charge of burping baby, bathing baby, just something, then back off. Men can feel redundant as baby prefers you for everything so by default, you will spend a lot of time with baby. He won’t, and he will feel left out – it used to be the two of you, well guess what, you are now three.
- Just because you are the mother, you are not always right. If your husband bathes baby differently to you, so what? As long as baby is clean, is at no risk of drowning and is reasonably safe, just let it be.
- You will have weird and worrying thoughts – I’m not talking post natal depression, but thoughts born out of love for your child. You will suddenly become aware of child abuse, abduction, murder stories like whoa! The world becomes such a dangerous place overnight and you wonder why you thought it was a good idea to bring forth life. I found myself asking, what if she dies in her sleep? Is she still breathing (and you will check)? What if catches a cold and dies?
What if I slip on something and she falls and cracks her head? What if she chokes on dust and dies? What if someone steals her and kills her? What if she is the only survivor in a car accident? The list is endless, but apparently these thoughts are normal and somewhere along the line, you will adopt my mantra – whatever will be, will be. Make the most of every minute, even when baby is crying and scratching you.
- Colic and the witching hour – gripe water was made for this. In my case, the crying would start between 10pm and midnight, and last for about 2 hours.
- Babies’ digestive systems are still immature so they will cry when they need to make a bowel movement or fart, as it is actually a complex process. They need to relax the anus sphincter muscle and contract/tense the abdominal muscles. Easy for us, we’ve been doing it a long time, but not for them. Some will even suffer from reflux, where they bring up acid as well as milk until that stomach sphincter develops. How can you tell if this is happening to you? Is your baby backing away from your nipple, arching their back and inconsolable? Try keeping them in an upright position and do tummy massage.
- If you have a colicky baby or a very gassy baby, try draining some of the watery milk that comes out first before baby drinks. This watery milk is high in lactose, and if baby is not draining your breast, she could get too much of this milk which makes her poo green, and makes baby very gassy. Finding this out was a God-sent. No more colic for us after spending money on fancy medicines.
- You will get very irritated with your husband – sleep deprivation does that to both of you. He will get irritated with you too, and probably compare you with some random super-mum and wonder why you can’t be like them, or why cleaning the house is number 100 on your list. An untidy house can be fixed by anyone, an emotionally unbalanced child cannot – so pick your battles wisely.
- Have meals and water at the ready – you will seriously forget to drink or eat in the early days postpartum.
That’s all I can think of for now, but would be interested to hear any additional ones so if you do have nuggets that you think will help first time moms and should be shared at the baby shower, please do drop them in the comments below.