- You’ve bought every available baby thing you could possibly find, including a nappy genie.
- Secretly you are a little bit freaked out, but tbh when there’s the big unknown of “WHAT THE HELL IS MY VAGINA GOING TO LOOK LIKE”. All the other postnatal stuff kind-of fades into the back-ground.
- Have a vague idea about trying to breastfeed but failing that you’ve bought bottles, sterilizer and breast pump ‘just in case’
- Made the decision that you’ll probably be a bit tired to start with but that within a couple of weeks (despite all the doom-mongers stating otherwise) you’ll have the new-parent thing nailed (it’s really just a question of being organised/going with the flow/doing it like Gweneth Paltrow) and will be managing a couple of gym sessions a week so you can snap back into pre-pregnancy shape. You may even have bought some new clothes as motivation.
- Your freezer is so full of pre-made batch food that you could easily feed the entire street for a month.
- Eventually you get to the “OH MY GOD I AM GOING TO BE PREGNANT FOREVER CAN THIS BABY JUST GET HERE!!!” stage which over-rides everything, including fears about labour, your new (postnatal) life and possibly even the aesthetics of your vajayjay.
These are all fairly standard responses to postnatal prep but in my experience, as a mother and Postnatal Doula, these aren’t necessarily the most useful. So here are some ideas to take the pressure off the time immediately post-birth:
♥Firstly, I have yet to find a diaper genie that isn’t a waste of money and space. Newborns really don’t need a lot of stuff, I promise, if you don’t believe me check out the NCT nearly new sales which do a roaring trade in stuff second time parents don’t want and didn’t use as either proof or a cheaper way to shop.
♥The freezer full of stuff is awesome, but you will need basics and fresh food as well (cause at 5 am you’re unlikely to want to be eating shepherds pie, even if you have remembered to defrost it) most supermarkets deliver and you can save a basics shopping list so you know you’ll at least have the milk and bread you like with the push of a button Trust me when I say that trying to decide whether you want granary or seeded wholemeal is just too stressful on 2 hours sleep. You can even book several weeks in advance for when your partner returns to work and you want them home IMMEDIATELY not via the nearest supermarket.
♥A jug next to the loo to pour water as you pee dilutes the urine and takes away any stinging from grazes/tears/stitches. Sitz baths or just plain old salt in your bath helps healing.
♥Painkillers can make you constipated so make sure you’re eating loads of fibre and drinking loads of water, before and after your birth, as this will really help take the strain (excuse the expression) off any stitches and help reduce the risk/limit hamerrhoids.
♥Speaking of water, stash a bottle next to your feeding chair and bed and ask your partner to make sure you have a drink nearby every time you feed. There is no thirst like that of a newly breastfeeding mother and the last thing you want to be doing (especially if you’re still really tender) once you’ve settled down with baby for a feed, is to get up again for a drink.
♥Before you have baby, find out where and when your nearest breastfeeding support group is, they’re run by people who know what they’re talking about and are free. Also get a list of breastfeeding helplines, again, these are run by trained BF supporters and are available as and when you need them (These are a good place to start: http://www.nationalbreastfeedinghelpline.org.uk, http://www.laleche.org.uk/pages/about/breastfeedinginfo.htm, http://www.breastfeedingnetwork.org.uk/finding-support.html). Most importantly talk to your partner about WHY breastfeeding is important to the health of you and your child (This is Unicef list sums it up nicely) as support from them can be the crucial difference between successfully breastfeeding or not.
♥You will be knackered, like every cliche you’ve ever heard knackered, but you will survive it. Ask for help and it can shift your whole experience entirely. Ask people to bring round dinner, say ‘hi’ and then leave again, ask your Mother-in-law to take your toddler for a walk to the park, your mates to spend your baby shower gift money on vouchers for a post-natal Doula, whatever it is, just ask for help when you need it. It will mean the major difference between finding the joy in the first weeks and months of your child’s life and it being a time that has to be endured and looked back upon with regret.
♥There are loads of websites and forums for Mums out there, at their best they can be an unending 24 hours oncall source of support but there can sometimes be a sting-in-the-tail (some people believe their way is 100% right and perceive any questioning of that as all out verbal warfare) so please, please try and tap into your own sense of what works for you and your baby (Good news: you’re officially the world expert on that particular child!!) and look for the experts for info, not the chat sections on facebook and forums if you have genuine concerns about the wellbeing of yourself or your baby, because it can be really hard sometimes to tell what is claptrap and what is potentially even harmful.