When I was pregnant I found advice rained down on me by well meaning friends and family.
This was great (most of the time) but I found it difficult to know what to ignore and what was going to be quite helpful when the baby arrived.
With the benefit of hindsight (Charles was born nine months ago) here are the pieces of advice that were most useful in those early weeks:
Labour isn’t a competition
One of the best pieces of advice I was given in my ante-natal class was by a midwife who told us ‘labour isn’t a competition, the end prize is the same for everyone regardless of how you get there’.
These wise words stayed with me throughout my pregnancy and I share them with you because it’s all too easy as an expectant mother to feel that somehow you are going to be judged or will feel like you have failed if you end up having to have pain relief during labour. This is clearly not true.
You should fill up that freezer/fridge/store cupboards
Yes of course you can still go to the shops once you have a baby but it’s much harder and takes longer to get out of the front door. Stock up on everything you can before the baby comes – if you’re not running out of loo roll/butter/toothpaste life is just that bit easier and frankly anything that makes those first few post baby weeks easier is worth doing!
You should line up a recommended breast feeding counsellor
You might find breastfeeding a total doddle for both of you and immediately find a position that works for you and your babe. Or you might not.
And this is where having the number of someone you can call and say please can you come over as soon as possible to help show me and my baby how to make breastfeeding a pain free experience invaluable.
I would highly recommend Clare Byam Cook who in a matter of minutes sorted Charles and I out and made what had seemed quite difficult, really easy.
Babies are not robots
We too, like others on this site, are a Gina Ford family and when Charles didn’t seem to fall asleep at the ‘right’ time or stay asleep for ‘long enough’, I had to be constantly reminded by my husband and mother that Charles (like all babies) is not a robot and routines are just guides.
If you go down the routine route, then you can’t remind yourself of this enough.
The most important thing you can do is love your baby
Pretty obvious really and who wouldn’t love their tiny bundle?
But in those sleep deprived early weeks, it’s easy to feel that you aren’t quite getting it right (Has she had enough to eat? Did I wind him enough before putting him down? Is this routine right for us?). Try not to be too hard on yourself.
Instead remind yourself that you love your babe like nothing else and that is by far the most important thing.