Life with a newborn is bloody hard work, and us first-time mums have a habit of making it even harder than it needs to be! Looking back, I can see that I was trying so hard to prove my worth as a mummy that I spent more time stressing and less time enjoying. Baby blues hit me hard, and I didn’t really get a break after that because it led straight on to postnatal OCD.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing, although it is often difficult to keep it from leading to regret. There are many things I regret from the first few months, but I am learning to view them in a more positive light. It was one big learning curve (and still is), and it’s certainly true that nothing can really prepare you for it.
There are 5 things in particular that I would do differently, and that I hope to remember for next time:
I know everyone says this, but it doesn’t always happen. I felt guilty letting people help out with housework when they came round, partly because I knew they’d mainly come to see T, and partly because I felt like I should have been able to keep up with it myself. Next time though, I will quite happily point them in the direction of the hoover or let them wash the dishes!
Do more things that I enjoy
This might seem like a bit of an odd one. However, when you can’t move because you’re recovering from a c-section and your newborn has finally fallen asleep on you, it is easy to get into the same routine of stuff that you do for the sake of it. I found myself binge-watching Netflix (of course), and playing on the PS4. After all, I couldn’t move from the sofa so what else was I to do? It got to the point where I was watching and playing stuff for the sake of it rather than actually enjoying it. What I should have done was keep a book by my side at all times, or a notepad and pen.
Enjoy more time together
I found it difficult to bond with T to begin with, because of our struggle with breastfeeding. I don’t think it helped that I was stressing too much about everything else, and didn’t allow myself time to breathe. I should have spent more time enjoying how tiny he was; more time just cuddling and talking to him.
Worry less about the house
This goes hand in hand with the previous one. When T was born, our house was a state. I moved in with my partner after finding out I was pregnant, and by the time T was born I was still living out of boxes and we still loads of crap lying pretty much anywhere. Because of this, I was very paranoid of what people would think when they came round. I hate living in clutter, and hate having piles of clothes everywhere. Every second that wasn’t occupied with looking after my son was spent fretting about the state of the house.
Join a breastfeeding support group
For a variety of reasons, I only breastfed for 5 weeks. I stopped because my son wasn’t happy and I was getting more and more stressed, and we just weren’t bonding. I took advice from midwives and health visitors to begin with, and in the end one of those bits of advice just made it a whole lot worse. I wanted to attend a breastfeeding support group to try and get more help, but the closest one was over half an hour walk away and my social anxiety got the better of me. They have since started a group at my local family center (only a 10 minute walk – how annoying!), and I probably would have managed to go to that one. Maybe if I’d had more support I would have been able to breastfeed longer. Then again, maybe not. We will never know!
Looking back at your own time with a newborn, what would you change? What advice would you give to new and expecting mums?