When I was pregnant I did a lot of reading. I really wanted to be prepared for having a baby and made sure to read lots of books about pregnancy, giving birth and newborns. I felt like the books left me feeling really prepared and I was confident that I could take on the world.
Then reality hit. The books gave lots of helpful information, but didn’t give the crucial stuff. The stuff that I really wish I knew.
Currently, a lot of my girlfriends are pregnant with their first. I am so excited for them because I know how they feel. Time almost seems to slow down when you’re pregnant. I want to pass on some advice and tips to these friends. These are the things I wish I knew about pregnancy, giving birth and adapting to a newborn. I promise they aren’t scary, just honest. 🙂
Sleep as MUCH as you can. I know when you are pregnant it’s hard to get comfy. And just when you get comfy you have to get up to pee. But seriously, if this is your first pregnancy, sleep as much as humanly possible. If it’s your second baby you probably don’t get that luxury because you likely have another child to care for. But if it’s your first, SLEEP. Sleep all day, sleep all night. Sleep when you aren’t tired. Sleep when you are tired. Sleep like you’ve never slept before. Because once your little bundle of joy arrives, sleep is a distant memory. I know that sounds really brutal and to be honest, it is in the beginning. But after a few months you become used to a lack of sleep. Pre-child I needed at least eight hours of sleep every night. Post-child, I could take over the world on a solid four hours. It’s hard in the beginning but I promise it does get better, and eventually (at some point) your child WILL sleep through the night.
Don’t stress over the little things. When I was pregnant, I got obsessed with making sure everything I bought my daughter followed a purple theme. I’m not sure why, but it was very important to me. I can guarantee that if your nursery is all pink, or blue, or yellow or whatever color, there will be days when it’s mismatched. Why? Because your little darling will poop, piss and puke all over their bedding and you’ll be forced to use the spare bedding you got at your baby shower. Eventually you probably won’t even remember what color your nursery theme is and honestly, your baby won’t care what color it is either. You have bigger things to worry about. You may not see it now but you will once your babe has arrived.
Take lots of pictures. This is the one time in your life when you are supposed to gain weight. So enjoy your growing belly. I loved mine. One of my girlfriends who owns a photography business (shout out to Krystle Cleary Photography!) did a maternity photo shoot for me and I am SO glad I got it done. I love looking back at my pregnancy pictures. They are really so special. And speaking of pictures, take as many as you want to and can of your baby. They grow fast and before you know it you’ll be looking back at pictures of your three month old wondering how time moved so quickly.
Labour really isn’t that bad. Everyone LOVES telling a first time mom all of their labour horror stories. Don’t listen to them. I’ve learned that women grossly exaggerate their labour horror stories for first time moms. Why? Why is that necessary? These women are already terrified, so STFU! In all seriousness, every labour is different. Some women are only in labour a few hours, some are a few days. I was a little over 12 hours. It wasn’t exactly a walk in the park but it wasn’t the worst thing in the world either. And yes, I had the epidural. Do not feel like you are any less of a woman or mother for needing help managing the pain. There are so many people who preach natural births and there’s nothing wrong with that. A natural birth is a beautiful process and I take my hat off to anyone who can do it. But don’t beat yourself up if you need the epidural or if you end up needing a c-section. All that matters is that your baby arrives safely. And P.S – you don’t need to do your hair, nails or makeup before you go to the hospital. I promise no one will give a single shit if your toenails are painted. (I’m guilty of all of these.)
Your newborn is SO easy to take places. Go out as much as you can with your newborn. Take a trip, visit friends, go to a restaurant or see a movie (most theaters do a showing specifically geared for parents with babies). Going places with a newborn is ridiculously easy, so get out as much as you can. Travelling or going places with a toddler is 100 times harder. So take advantage because once you have a 17 month old (like I do) you’ll probably be ordering pizza a lot more frequently than going to restaurants.
Who cares if you (or your house) are a mess. After I had my daughter, I didn’t recognize myself. I was a hot mess all day, every day. I wanted to do my hair and makeup and look like a functional adult, but I was just too tired and overwhelmed to care. No one expects you or your house to look perfect after you have a baby. It’s practically a free-pass to be as messy as you want and no one will judge you, I promise.
It’s okay to ask for help. Those first few weeks after having a baby are really rough. You’re exhausted, your body is still recovering from giving birth or having a c-section and you are adjusting to becoming a mom. Your life is very different now. There’s a little person in your care who depends on you for everything. It’s overwhelming. Don’t feel bad for asking for help. Lean on your family and friends. Ask someone to babysit so you can take a shower or a nap or go get a haircut. And please, don’t feel guilty about it. You need time to yourself now and then and your baby will survive without you for a few hours. It’s okay mama, you aren’t a failure for needing a break.
I hope that this information hasn’t left any of my pregnant friends feeling overwhelmed or freaked out. I promise, it isn’t as hard as people make it sound. And when all else fails, trust your instincts. You know what is best for you and your baby. Just remember to breathe, you got this!