Today I have a guest post from the lovely Siobhan from Rock Mum. She is expecting baby number 2 and has put together a few tips for me to share with you!
My first tip for preparing for baby is probably the most important.
Be honest! Be honest with your friends and your family about how you’re feeling and especially be honest about how hard it is. No one will thank you for staying quiet or pretending you’re ok if you’re not. Being a mum can be the most rewarding experience, but it can also be the hardest.
Prepare for the worst
Yes, you might want to give birth naturally and have the sort of beautiful bonding experience they tell you about in your NCT class, but there’s a chance that might not happen. Newsflash: You *may* not look like the Dutchess of Cambridge immediately after giving birth.
In my group of six who gave birth at the same time three of us had emergency C-sections, two had episiotomies and one delivered naturally (but had horrific piles). So please do write your birth plan, but don’t expect it to be a perfect case study in birthing. You need to have things to hand to prepare for the worst in your after-birth care.
So with this in mind, stock up on:
A doughnut pillow
Maternity pants (disposable)
One of those puppy training pads (this goes under your bed sheet)
Tea tree oil
Really shit nightclothes you don’t care about and are basically the equivalent of a massive jogging bottom.
Equally, breast feeding. You may want to, you may not. For those of you who do want to, here’s what you need to know: that video they show you at NCT called “laid back feeding”? It’s NOTHING like that. It hurts. No, you health visitor at the back, it’s not because “I’m not doing it properly”. At first, it hurts. Stop telling people it doesn’t.
So it hurts. You need nipple balm, breast pads. Everything will hurt. Your actual boob, your nipple. It will get easier, but if it’s still hurting and it’s not, please just look at alternatives. It’s important that your baby is fed, it doesn’t matter how.
So you need:
Nipple cream (Lansinoh)
Electric pump (I had the melena swing which I bought second hand)
Breast feeding pillow
Oh god, the actual baby
I expect you have clothes and things for
Baby to wear once it is born. Did you know, by the way, that there’s a whole size in between 0-3 months? I didn’t! It’s “newborn” and if you haven’t already it’s worth getting little vests and sleep suits in that size too.
Aside from the clothes (sleep suits, vests, hats, bibs) you’ll need The Stuff. Here is a list of things you will need. There’s other things that you’ll want, but this is a list to get you through the first few weeks.
Muslins (baby’s are sick quite a lot)
Hats (their heads get cold/can get burnt)
Sling (make sure suitable for a newborn)
Somewhere for baby to sleep
Nappies – even if you’re doing cloth I would say get a back up pack of disposable as you just never know.
Wipes (they’re skin could be super sensitive when they are first born so research this)
Cotton wool (lots. You’ll probably use this over wipes initially)
Coconut oil (you can use it for EVERYTHING)
Thermometer (we initially had an armpit one but now have invested in a head/ear scanner and I do think it’s worth it)
Bath (I wasn’t sure about including this… you can just use a sink, I plan to this time. Last time I bought this seat thing that you put baby in and she HATED it. So, I dunno. If you have a bathroom sink you might just want to use that and save your back a bit).
Also consider.. water thermometer (you could just use your elbow, you could. But I did and then was like “what am I testing for here? How does my elbow know it’s ok? Did someone tell it? Is it enough?” So, if you’re prone to worry, just get one of these).
Towels (loads out there, but if you’re on a budget this isn’t an essential as baby can just as easily use a towel you have – just make sure you’ve washed it in something that won’t react with their skin)
Hypoallergenic washing liquid suitable for sensitive skin (So, you *may* be able to tell, but my baby had sensitive skin! But I did read somewhere that it’s a good idea to wash all the new baby stuff before putting baby in it)
Playmat (somewhere you can lie them on the floor and they can look at stuff. It sounds like a “like to have” rather than a “need to have”, but they do become useful. Especially if you can’t be arsed to hoover every time you want to set them down!)
Bouncy chair thing (See above, you’ll thank me for this! You can pick these up on selling groups for about a fiver. I have two. One for upstairs one downstairs. I dunno if it’s the vibration, the annoying song, the bouncy thing… but it will buy you ten minutes peace. And that, my friend is precious).
I think that’s it. I’ve probably left stuff off, but if it’s not at the forefront of my mind then maybe I didn’t use it. Would love to hear back from anyone who thinks I’ve left stuff off though.
Your life with baby
Oh, I can’t say this enough: don’t be a hero. Ask for help. Don’t try and do everything. You know when you start a new job and they spend a week sort of teaching you the ropes and stuff? It’s like that but with no sleep and a really sore fanny (and maybe arsehole) and maybe midsection and tits are leaking and massive or sore and it’s not a week, it’s more like three months. And look, I have a three year old and I’m still sometimes like: whatthefuuuuuuuuck. So please please please. Get some mates in your phone- contact me I’ll be one! – join online forums (avoid avoid the holier than thou sites, DM me and I‘ll tell you which ones but anything with “gentle” in the title basically), speak to your health visitor if you’re struggling also (equally take all advice from these guys with a pinch of salt as they all contradict each other and are seemingly obsessed with breastfeeding).
Practically there are things you can do to prepare.
Get in easy-to-make food in bulk. If people want to buy you gifts, thank them, but ask that they make you food instead that you can store in the freezer beforehand. Forget Hello Fresh, your first month will be more like “what can I eat with one hand and will be ready in five minutes”?
There are companies that do meal packages that they’ll deliver to you and you just need to warm up- it’s important that you’re not just eating crap, so think about investing a bit more and getting these. Cook is the one I know, but I know there’s a tonne of independents doing this also. Have a research to see what’s available in your area.
In terms of reading materials… I don’t know what to say. I got the books, I read them and then I didn’t remember the stuff. I think following mum bloggers is a good idea for a dose of honesty (I can provide a list of these that I found genuinely helpful if you like). I had a book called “Your baby week by week”. I liked this one and in the end it’s the only one I read because it was just a chapter a week. But then my friend Claudia said she hated this book as her kid wasn’t doing the stuff so it made her worry (mine wasn’t either, but I was too tired to think about whether it was an issue). So have a look at what you think appeals. My mum bought me “Baby and Child” because she said she used it and it was invaluable. But, I dunno. We have the internet now and apps etc. I had an app called Wonder Weeks which I liked, it basically goes through developmental milestones so you can see why your baby is acting particularly shite that week. That’s quite good to know. Otherwise you worry that it will never end. And it does.
Oh, almost forgot! Get a Netflix subscription. The nights can be long at first and this will keep you awake during feeds.
Above all, the best thing you can do is be open to change and be prepared to have a different journey to the one you envisioned. Trust your gut. Definitely do this. No one knows your baby better than you. And good luck!