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19th Dec 2014

“All the things I would have done differently.” First-time mum looks back

Hindsight is a wonderful thing


Next week, my daughter turns one year old. Looking back on a whirlwind year, I have been thinking about ‘things I would do differently’ and ‘things I would do the same’.

Things I would do DIFFERENTLY:

Say no to sleepovers. I lost count of the number of friends who got in touch during those first few months (and weeks even), asking to stay with us. While it was nice to feel so popular, looking back, I shouldn’t have even entertained the idea of entertaining.

Set boundaries earlier. No visitor should be allowed to set foot in the door without a cooked meal, or a promise to do a load of washing. Even then, any visits should be kept short and to a minimum, especially in those early weeks. Excitement over a new baby can take over awareness levels though, so it’s usually down to the new parents to tell visitors when it’s time to leave.

Stand up to baby hogs. I would take back the baby despite any assurance that “they are just fine.”

Ignore any messages around my due date and not feel under pressure to respond to every email, text and missed call once the baby has arrived. In fact, I would just turn my phone off.

Rejoice in the fact that breastfeeding sends a baby to sleep.

Follow baby’s natural routine rather than try to figure out whether it’s eat, sleep, play; sleep, play, eat; or play, eat, sleep.

Attend baby groups and classes earlier. At 16 weeks old, my daughter was referred to as “the old one.”

Attend a breastfeeding support group. I thought I could figure things out on my own, even though I spent most of my time stalking the local breastfeeding group on Facebook because they posted so much amazing information.

Breastfeed wherever and whenever WITH CONFIDENCE.

Not get hung up on other’s opinions. It still surprises me now how opinionated people can be when it comes to baby stuff, but I would spend less time worrying about it.

Trust my body. I was rushed into making a decision about getting an epidural because the anaesthetist was going into emergency surgery, but gave birth just one hour after the needle went in. I have no doubt that getting the epidural was more traumatic than pushing the baby out without any drugs would have been.

Abandon all efforts with the Moses basket. I’m not sure I’d want to sleep on a mattress that thin either.

Wear maternity clothes for longer, instead of trying to squeeze back into skinny jeans. How I miss those stretchy waistbands now.

Things I would do THE SAME:

Keep quiet about baby name ideas and stick with our original decision once the baby was born; despite the inevitable, “Where did you find THAT?”

Start a bedtime routine ASAP, even if it just means lying the baby down, calmly at the same time every evening. When sleep at other times has failed us, the consistency of the bedtime routine has at least given us a few hours of normality in the evening.

Use Ewan The Dream Sheep as a sleepy cue (and to drown out noise from loud guests and the neighbour’s dog).

Send my husband to the spare room for those first few months while I am in a night feeding bubble. There’s no point both of us being wrecked.

Eat, eat and eat again.

Accept every offer of a cooked meal. One year on and my in-laws still bring meals-on-wheels when they visit.

Stockpile concealer, blusher and dry shampoo – must-haves for any mum who wants to look a little bit human.

Attend a pregnancy Pilates class. I can’t imagine how bad my pelvic floor would be if I HADN’T attended.

Take New Chapter Organics’ Perfect Prenatal Multivitamins. Worth every penny and bit of effort it took to order them. Gwyneth Paltrow apparently swears by them, even when not pregnant.

Attend a baby massage course. A lovely class to attend, made all the better by the fact it was held on a Monday morning – no better way to start the week.

Go to Water Babies. I was slightly sceptical at first (and slightly terrified about dunking the baby under water), but it’s money well spent and we’re still enrolled in the classes.

Filter advice and repeat the mantra, “MUM KNOWS BEST.”

Take AS many photos (and more).

Enjoy every second of every cuddle because it goes so fast.