Here is my advice from what I have learnt through my first pregnancy and having my son who is now 5 months old. These are things I wish I had known or accidentally stumbled across that I though might be helpful for others. They are New Zealand based.
- Having some idea what type of birth you want before choosing a midwife helps as many midwives specialise or have more interest in certain types of births (eg water, hypno, home, etc) and have certain places (birthing centres, hospitals that they work in). You can always change what you want and your midwife but its much easier if you at least keep the same midwife though out.
- Start reading early and not just about pregnancy and birth, those aren’t nearly as important as the first year of you baby’s life. Once the baby arrives is not the time, you wont have time and being sleep deprived does not help in making good choices. I thought I had done well to find out about the first few weeks/months but I just recently got caught out when in came to starting solids and I had put off some reading into baby led weaning thinking I still had time. But at 5 months old the Plunket nurse was saying he is hungry, its time to start him on solids so I rushed into it without thinking about my options and what I felt was best for him.
- However it is good to know about the different types of births. I planned a water birth in the birthing centre and ended up having an induction then a forceps delivery in hospital. I am very glad I did learn a little about what all that was so it was less a shock at the time and I knew more about what was happening.
- Start reading early, choose a variety of books and if the book doesn’t sit right with you, or makes you feel scared and over whelmed put it down and try a different one. You can always go back to it if you feel there was good in it. The more you learn now the better informed you will be when its time to make the call and you can have some idea as to what kind of parent you want to be.
- Don’t just follow one book, find what works for you. Often the middle ground between two opinions is more realistic.
- Before jumping in the deep end with one idea/book/product do a quick reality check. Do they have evidence to back up their claims? What do other parents think? Is it practical for your life style? Sometimes things that sound like a fantastic idea when pregnant don’t work out so well when reality hits.
- But remember what is right for you might not be right for someone else and vice versa
- I found ‘The Womanly art of Breastfeeding’ by La Leche League and ‘The Happiest Baby on the Block’ by Harvey Karp M.D to be really useful, practical and not scary. They left me feeling like I could do this whole baby thing and that I can do it my way which made me happy.
- Talk to your partner about how you want to parent, you may find they have very different ideas than you or very similar. You will need their support especially in the first few months it helps to be on the same page
- Talk to them about what you need them to do, they can’t read your mind. I kept forgetting this and in my highly emotional pregnant state would get upset at really weird things and blaming Robbie. Luckily he understood it was mostly just hormones and didn’t get upset at me.
- You will need each other more than you have ever needed each other before. I needed help with things when pregnant and had to kept reminding him to slow down when walking together towards the end when I could only waddle and once our son was born I needed him for so many things. Like getting me food and water while feeding and picking up our baby and bringing him to me when he woke in the night, for the first couple of weeks he was my arms and legs.
Friends and Family
- They can be amazing support but often need pointing in the right direction. Sometimes they aren’t quite sure what you need so don’t be afraid to ask if your not getting what you want.
- Different people bring/do different things and as long as they are being helpful be happy.
- Its ok to disagree. Sometimes saying ‘that’s a great idea but not for us right now’ to advice helps. I personally used the in one ear out the other method for sorting advice, if it didn’t stick I didn’t use it, though I may have agreed with the person telling me at the time. When asked about why I wasn’t following it later I often would say “oh yeah… forgot about it” which although was generally true it meant I could just ignore advice I didn’t want. Baby brain accounts for a lot in my house. I also neglected to tell certain people about certain choices I was making until it was too late for them to try and change my mind (note do not use this with your partner).
- Remember that it works both ways and other people might not want your advice. Every baby is different and every Mum is different and allowed to do things their own way. What works for some babies doesn’t work for all babies.
- Try not to compare your babies, its not a competition. They each have their own personalities, talents and weaknesses. Everyone will go through tough patches at some time or another. Each parent loves their baby best and thinks they are amazing, remember your tough times and give them some praise they have earned it.
- Think about what your going to wear for nursing and possibly go shopping for clothes for yourself before your baby is born. I put it off thinking I would wait until I was the right size again before buying stuff. Then found it really hard to work out what to wear so that I could nurse my son without showing huge amounts of boob or my very saggy baggy belly. Layer works, and singlets with adjustable straps or a too small boob tube that sits just below your bra is great for covering tummies. Some maternity clothes also are nursing tops so then you can use it for longer. Kmart have cheapish nursing tops and http://www.breastmates.co.nz are really good and online so you don’t need to leave the house.
- Food – freezing meals and snacks before baby is born is fantastic. Grocery shopping online can be great and http://www.foodbox.co.nz does weekly seasonal fruit and vege boxes delivered to your door.
But most of all remember your job is to
Keep them safe
in the best way you know how