- Don’t be a martyr. If you’ve had a caesar or episiotomy, take your prescribed medication both at the hospital and when you get home, even if you don’t think you need it. You do. It will give you the pain-free mobility you need.
- Book a lactation specialist if you can to visit you at home. You may think your breastfeeding is going well, but you’ll be given invaluable tips, confidence and the answers to a whole lot of questions that are bound to arise.
- A night nurse is not a luxury – she’s almost a necessity! Go for it even if you can only afford employing one for a few days. You’ll receive much-needed support, encouragement and reassurance, leaving you far more relaxed about coping on your own.
- Make sure you have help at home for the housework and cooking. It will make a huge difference and free you up to focus on your brand new role.
- Don’t feel inadequate if you don’t immediately bond with your child. No matter how much you’ve longed for your baby, he or she is a complete stranger. If there’s not an instant connection give yourself time. It will come.
- Expect to cry. Often. For anything and everything. You’re not unique and you’re not alone. You may think that everyone else copes perfectly well as a new parent but they all have the same ups and downs as you do. Talk about it. To everyone.
- Be prepared for sleep deprivation. It’s the hardest thing you’ll have to deal with. Try to catnap whenever your baby sleeps: take the phone off the hook, ban visitors and close your eyes. It’s the only way you’re ever going to catch up.
- Contract in with your paediatrician or nurse and get the go ahead to call whenever you need to. There will be those times you want reassurance that ‘it’s normal’ and you need someone you feel comfortable calling 24/7. Guard the cell number with your life!
- Expect a rollercoaster of emotions. Your partner is going to share your emotional turmoil so you both need to anticipate it and constantly communicate.
- Read baby books by all means but always trust your instincts and parent from your heart. Never ever doubt yourself – you ALWAYS know best.
“Learn to set boundaries. You’re going to be inundated with visitors who keep popping in ‘for five minutes’ and always overstay their welcome. I insisted that people always called before coming over, said no when it didn’t suit me and asked them to leave when I needed my space.” - Gaby, 32
“Breast may be best but sometimes it just doesn’t work for you. Don’t feel like a failure if you can’t breastfeed- there are other options like expressing and formula, and your baby WILL thrive. Do what’s best for you, and don’t let anyone make you feel guilty.” – Lana, 30
Are you prepared for motherhood? Are you scared or anxious? Or are you geared up to go?