Not all pregnant women enjoy the experience, but I personally found being an expectant mother a wonderful and fulfilling time in my life, on both occasions. Of course, along with the magic and wonder of the life growing inside you comes advice. TRUCKLOADS of it. It’ll come at you like your female work colleagues hands come at your bump post-20 weeks – fast, and whether you want it or not.
Here are a few bits of advice I didn’t receive, but could really have done with knowing…
1. Trust your instincts. You know your baby better than anyone. Remember that.
2. The snot catcher. This is an extra loose sheet tucked over the top of the fitted sheet you put on your baby’s bed. Does exactly what it says on the tin, and saves you changing the whole bed in the middle of the night if you have a vomisode, shituation or other similarly enjoyable event involving any number of bodily fluids.
3. ‘Spoiling the baby’. Do not worry about this pre-8 weeks. Cuddle and feed as much as your baby wants. Keep them safe, clean, warm, fed and loved and don’t even entertain planning a schedule before they turn two months old. Unless you want to, of course. Don’t let me boss you around – or anyone else for that matter.
4. Formula pots. If you formula feed your baby, measure out the appropriate amount of ‘scoops’ of powder into small, sealed pots at a time when you can concentrate fully. There is nothing more irritating than losing count of this when you stand at the kettle, bleary-eyed at 3am.
5. Feeding. Goal = Feed the baby. Breast, bottle or cow’s udder (joke). Doesn’t matter how. Just feed them.
6. Never, ever lick your fingers during a nappy change. Ever.
7. Birth/labour – same principle as #5. Goal = get the baby out. Pushed, dragged or whipped out the sunroof, get the baby out. Job done. Oh and P.S. although there possibly should be, you won’t get any medals for a drug-free labour.
8. Mum friends are essential. No-one else really wants to hear about the colour of your baby’s poo.
9. Boys bits – always point their willy downwards to avoid leaks and pop a tissue over the end of it during nappy changes – the tissue was affectionately referred to as a “piss protector” when this advice was given to me (not that I have boys, but it sounded like a worthwhile tip).
10. Keep a list of all gifts you receive, this makes thank you cards a lot easier to write.
11. Buy some non-slip bath stickers and use them on any smooth bathroom floor tiles, to make bath time less risky for you and your baby. Oh and while we’re on the subject of bathing, slip one hooded towel inside another, this way you can whip the wettest one of the two away when you’ve dried the baby, to avoid your little one getting cold.
12. To avoid nappy rash, dry your baby’s bum with a cotton wool pad after wiping clean – Wilko’s baby cotton wool pads are the best ‘non-fleecing’ ones I’ve found so far.
13. Clean under your baby’s chin daily with cotton wool and water if they aren’t having a bath. You don’t want to discover the horror that is ‘neck cheese’. Trust me.
14. Make a list of everything you need to put in your baby’s changing bag and stick it to the fridge. Then just run down it each time you leave the house for peace of mind – I still do this 2 years on.
15. Late addition to #13… If your baby is ‘sicky’, also include their armpits in the washing ritual. Eww.
I’ve made mistakes, so you don’t have to (and re: #6 – I can actually still taste it *shudder*)
Oh and definitely ignore anyone who starts their advice with “I’ll tell you what you want to do…” – only you know what you want to do. And say yes to the tea and toast post-labour, it’ll be the best decision you ever made.