I recently had a bit of a pregnancy scare. Nothing major and to be honest, at the risk of sharing too much, my being pregnant would have almost been biblical, so it was never a heart-stopping scare. Once I got over the horrifying thoughts of having two under two, it did get me thinking … what would I do differently the second time around?
Things I’d do differently
- I would take sick days – oh, how foolish of me to be a martyr. There’s a reason we get sick days allocated to us. Use them! I spent days where I could barely function, where half the day was spent looking at the bottom of an office toilet bowl (not half as clean as my own). I was so worried about people treating me different, that I forgot to look after myself.
- Eat healthier and exercise in early pregnancy – I’m pretty sure I exercised, but I definitely existed on chocolate for the first few months, as evidenced in my pregnancy series. It’s probably unlikely, but perhaps I wouldn’t have ended up with gestational diabetes if I took better care of myself – maybe it was inevitable, but I’d like to try harder to avoid it if there’s a next time. Note: I am fully aware that it’s a pancreas function issue, but I dare to dream.
- Not stress about my weight gain – I was given such a hard time about not putting on enough weight. I know, some people right now are beginning to hate me, but it caused me no end of anguish and was not something I was in control of. I was even accused of starving myself, which was not even close to true. Next time, I’ll stick to being content when measurements indicate the baby is growing – which they did the first time – and stop worrying about me.
- Stand up for myself – for some reason people think they can push you around when you’re a new mother. At least, that’s what it feels like. I can recall midwives patronising me (one even told me I should be wearing a bra – WTF?), health nurses scaring me and doctors dictating to me. If I had my time again I’d trust my gut and stand up for myself. After all, it turns out, my gut was pretty much always right.
Related: I donated my breastmilk
- Not stress about breastfeeding and baby weight gain – I remember getting to a point where I was considering buying baby scales for home. I don’t even have adult scales! Such was the stress of baby gaining weight. Did she ever lose weight, apart from those few days after birth? No! So, why then did people put so much pressure on me and her and my milk supply? In the end, missy is thriving, and I exclusively breastfed the entire time. Did I need to worry as much as I did? Probably not, which brings me to one people might find a bit controversial …
- I wouldn’t wake the baby – little miss is a good sleeper, loves her sleep. Yet, at weeks old, when us sleep-deprived parents should have made the most of her being happy to sleep five hours at night (which is pretty good for a newby), the health nurse had us waking her every three hours for her complicated, long, hour-plus-long feed – this despite many studies indicating that babies gain weight while sleeping – to pork her up. It was extremely difficult. Most of the time I had an open-mouthed, sleeping baby, desperately trying to get a forced boob out of her face. In hindsight, we should have let her sleep, and I curse myself for being too scared to stray from what one person was telling me. (Note, this would not apply to the day, she did need to pork up, so I wouldn’t keep the baby sleeping long stretches during the day!)
- Buy baby wraps – oh, the swaddling, so fun! So much more so when you need to do it half a dozen times because the baby keeps wriggling out of them. I had no idea about ergobaby cocoons and equivalents. Life would have been so much easier!
Related: How I terrified my expecting friend
Things people might think I’d do different, but I’d stick to like dried weet-bix on a face
- Work up until 39 weeks – people thought I was crazy. In fact, I tell people that 37 weeks is a good time to stop. But, at the end of my year off I was so pleased I worked for as long as I did. It gave me more time with my baby girl and, to be honest, a little more of a much-needed full-time salary.
- Pump, pump, pump – due to a poor latch, I started pumping my milk from day two. I was lucky, my supply came in full and early. It was awfully frustrating for a while there, but having a stock of milk in the freezer took the pressure off me as a mother. It enabled me to get out without baby, and not be restricted to staying at home with bubs as we continued our attempt to latch through what was best described as a long strip tease by the two of us – not something you can do in public.
- Get into a routine early – at just six weeks old, missy was settling into a routine. By eight weeks she was sleeping through the night. Need I say more?
- Attempt a natural birth – I think there’s a myth doing the rounds that a caesarean is easy. Now, I haven’t experienced the alternative, but I can tell you there’s nothing easy about looking after a newborn after major surgery. The pain was horrendous, the recovery not ideal, and it restricted me in ways that I would like to avoid. Aside from that, I would like to give natural birth a crack. Then I can really say which one is easier!
- Let baby dictate nap times – see above! There are ways to have a routine, and let baby take the lead. In fact, they love a routine and, if you watch their cues, a lot of the time you might find a pattern. I’m not saying it works every time, but, as I said previously, I think the whole waking the baby thing is an unnecessary evil (most of the time).
- Make homemade foods – yes, I even did this when I went on holidays, with a few minor exceptions. And, yes, it’s hard work, but I am so proud of my husband and I for doing this. Our daughter has balanced, nutritious meals every day. We know exactly what goes into them. She has little to no sugar, and she’s plump and happy and loves her food. Maybe we’re lucky, maybe we just have a baby who isn’t fussy, but part of me believes our stubbornness to persist in a weekly meal plan has contributed to her having such a good relationship with food.
Related: My favourite baby foods
Finally, the best advice I ever received? “It’s just a phase”. It works for most situations, and it’s often true. Those four words saved me so many times!
And what about my advice? Well, my advice would be to trust your gut. Sure, take advice from others, but do what feels right for you. The aforementioned is what works for me, but it might not be your ideal.
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