A few of my good friends are having babies this year, and it fills me with joy to know that they will soon join the parent club.
Because I had my first son a few months ago, I have been writing long emails to them with the pieces of wisdom I’ve acquired recently. As I started gathering my thoughts for a new ‘congratulations on the bump and here are a few things that might help’ email, I came up with the following list of tips:
1. Moan and then forget.
Being pregnant is marvellous, but not always as enjoyable as we would hope; side effects can sometimes make the experience difficult. Once baby is here, you quickly forget all about the heartburn, nausea, back pain, insomnia, trips to the toilet at night, fatigue and even labour pain. Pregnancy is a special time when you can indulge in many things, moaning is one of them.
2. Buy more pregnancy clothes than you think you need.
You will wear your pregnancy wardrobe a lot once the bump is visible. Also, after birth—because you might not fit in your pre-pregnancy clothes for a while—you will have to keep on wearing loose jeans, and tops. If you plan on breastfeeding, buy a lot of shirts. They are very convenient and quick to open discreetly when you are out and about with baby.
3. Do your pelvic floor exercises.
During pregnancy and after birth and forever after. I did them without questioning because I’m a good girl like that. I understood why, right after birth, you really want to keep strong muscles in that area. If you don’t believe me, here is a good article about incontinence after birth.
4. Squat, Squat, Squat!
This is what I learned from pregnancy yoga and it did help me during labor to some extent. Squat legs apart during pregnancy and legs together after birth. For a bit more science on the subject, read this fascinating article that advocates squatting instead of Kegels.
5. Keep working on those abs.
It is not recommended to do strenuous crunches or exercises that interfere with the bump, but there are many ways to work out your abs gently during pregnancy. You will need your belly strength to push this lovely baby into the world, especially if you’re exhausted by hours of labour.
6. Become boob-wise.
If you plan on breastfeeding, get as much information as you can. I personally found it more difficult than labour. I have been nursing for five and a half months now and it has become entirely natural, painless and easy. For the first few weeks, however, this wasn’t the case—and I almost gave up on week six. I’m so glad I didn’t. So, get ready and find support groups in your area; their help is invaluable.
7. Spot the bump in your neighbourhood
When baby is born you will need other mothers around to share your experience: somebody who will find your stories about big diaper explosions at five in the morning or your baby fart jokes funny. You will find it all so fascinating, but chances are your non-parent friends won’t be that amused.
8. Indulge and get yourself a stylish changing bag.
A changing bag is much more than for diapers and mat. It will become your new handbag, your life saver, your everything. Choose one with lots of pockets and that attaches easily to your stroller.
9. Beg, borrow and buy on eBay
You’ll need a lot of gear for baby. The good news is there’s a great second-hand and hand-me-down market. Get a list of what you want and start working on it a couple of months before baby arrives. One of the magic search terms is ‘bundle.’
10. Create an online wish list.
Send the link to the lovely friends and family who ask what you want for baby. A wish list is a good place to put all the little extras that you can’t really afford because you’re buying all the other important things. Amazon has a universal wish list button which allows you to add items from all sites you browse, which is very useful.
11. Don’t “enjoy your freedom now.”
You’ll hear this endlessly when you tell people you’re pregnant. It ruined my confidence and terrified me—‘what did I just sign up for?’
It makes parenthood sound like doing time, and getting a life sentence of sleep deprivation, busy weekends, and boring evenings stuck at home. Well, now that I’m on the other side of the fence, I’ve discovered that it’s not as simple as that, and babies are not jailers. You can’t stockpile freedom. You can, however, create the good memories. So do something nice with your partner: a romantic weekend together, a nice dinner in your favourite ‘family unfriendly’ restaurant. Celebrate the change that is coming.
12. Take all the advice you can.
90 percent of it is useful; the rest is from your mother-in-law! Smile, nod, and avoid the controversial subjects. You’ll learn that mothers know best; they’ve been there, done that and are still wearing the ‘#1 Mom’ t-shirt.
13. Keep calm and trust your instinct.
Your baby and you will quickly develop that special relationship. Soon enough, you will be able to interpret every sound your baby makes and respond to their needs accordingly.
14. Keep something for yourself.
Have a hobby, and keep it after baby is born. It will give you something to do for yourself when you take a break from the wonderful world of diapers.
15. Start hoarding the chocolate.
I have stashes all over the house. Chocolate keeps me going through the day, but who needs an excuse anyway?
Anything you would like to add?
Editor: Brianna Bemel