You will have been warned about the sleep deprivation and have stocked your freezer full of food in preparation for the big arrival. But some things are left for you to discover on your own, after your’ve given birth.
Here is our list of the things no one tells you before you meet you baby.
1. Milk gets everywhere
Everywhere. Whether it is breastmilk or formula it will be all over you, all over the baby, all over your bed, clothes, partner, mother in law etc. Cringe. With any luck your baby will be drinking some too but this is by no means a given.
2. You will obsess about your baby’s weight
You’ll have wondered why people make such a big deal about their baby’s weight, including it in newspaper announcements and thank you cards. But once your baby is born and the health visitor arrives with her scales, weight is everything. If your baby is gaining it, you can pat yourself on the back, if not you will (needlessly) feel a failure. I ended up buying my own set of scales from John Lewis.
3. The general public dislike you
People gave up their seat to you when you were pregnant. Other mothers gave you knowing smiles and asked your due date. Now, with pram in tow, and the darkest circles under your eyes, you are scowled at, barged out the way, and kicked off the bus if there are already too many buggies on board – even if its pouring with rain. You’ll then get drenched with puddle water as the bus speeds off.
4. But some people adore babies
The most unexpected of your friends and acquaintances will come out of the woodwork as fully signed up baby-lovers. You’ll receive presents from people your barely know and get advice on swaddling and weaning from strangers in Sainsbury’s.
5. Designer baby clothes are useless
Cashmere cardigans, smocked dresses and alpaca booties don’t mix with the anatomy and physiology of a newborn baby. Or a new mother’s laundry room. Cotton bodysuits make life so much easier.
6. You might not feel like crying
You’ve been warned about the baby blues and the fact that you’ll be an emotional wreck following your baby’s birth. There’s a chance, however, that you’ll feel strangely normal for the first few days and only succumb to your hormones later on – or not at all.
7. You can cope without sleep
Before you give birth, everyone loves telling you how little sleep you’re going to get, which is annoying but at least you’re now prepared for broken nights and the ensuing exhaustion. What’s surprising, though, is quite how little sleep you are able to function on.
8. Your conversation suffers…
For the first few weeks all you will talk about is sleep patterns, feeds (when, how much, right or left breast), nappies (how many, colour of poo etc). Thankfully you won’t even know you’re doing it. And then you’ll move on to discussing nurseries and schools.
9. Newborn babies don’t play with toys
So the toys you’ve been given will just clutter up your home. But they love staring at the ceiling. Particularly if there are spotlights involved. Apparently this is normal.
10 But all babies love a party
Don’t stay in for your newborn’s sake. Take your young baby along to your friend’s party/ wedding/ dinner if the thought of a babysitter is making you nervous. Chances are they’ll sleep soundly through all the noise and if they don’t there will be plenty of people to coo over them.
11. Maternity leave isn’t all about tea, cake and box sets
What could be more blissful than a few months off work to look after your baby? The reality is that maternity leave can be lonely and boring and you will probably, at least sometimes, miss the buzz of the workplace.
12. Getting showered and dressed is really, really hard
Newborns usually sleep a lot during the day but never long enough for you to wash and dress. Don’t be surprised – or ashamed – if you’re still in you’re wearing your pjs at 4pm.
13. Babies need A LOT of cuddles
I wish someone had reminded me of this crucial fact in those first few bewildering weeks, while I was stressing about weight and feeding and sleeping. There’s a little person in your house feeling even more vulnerable and confused than you are – so cuddle them, lots. They’ve been living in a cosy, secure place for the past nine months; your embrace is always going to feel better to them than a cold cot or Moses basket.
14. Nappies don’t smell
Well, nothing like as bad as the toddler equivalent.