10 Things A New Mum Wants You to Know

10 Things a new mum wants you to know
While some of the points below sound pretty negative, I did have many wonderful people around me during pregnancy and after giving birth. They checked with us first to see if it was OK to come round and some offered us practical help, while others bought flowers and chocolates to perk me up. We had loads of lovely presents for our baby and were so grateful for the masses of cards, presents and well wishes. They really meant a lot to us! 

Nevertheless, there was still a lot of unnecessary additional stress and upset piled on to us by a minority of people. Unfortunately, when you're already feeling low and battered, it's these negative incidences and annoyances that stay with you and taint what should be such a joyful time. 

Below are the things I wish I could have said at the time, but couldn't because I was an empty shell of a person. I was weak, fatigued, recovering from a pregnancy filled with hyperemesis, severe pre-eclampsia and an imminent risk of kidney failure. I didn't have the energy to stand up for myself and brushed off a lot of rudeness for the sake of keeping the peace while patiently trying to nurse my son. I imagine there are many new mums who feel this way, so you are welcome to share this blog post as a subtle hint when you're feeling too tired to express yourself. 

1) I wont tell you when I'm in labour. 

If you're not my birth partner (or a midwife, ambulance or taxi driver!), it isn't your business. Labour is a very private time. Other mammals go into cosy dark places to give birth. For a human stuck on a bright L&D ward, the closest I came to this was pulling the curtain around my bed and insisting that all phones were switched off once my birth partners were with me. 

Besides that, I'd been on the maternity ward with pre-eclampsia for weeks already and had had 2 failed inductions. So "going into labour", for me, really meant, "I'll give birth at some point in the near future, it might be in three hours or it might be in three days". It was in three days, as it turns out. 

Don't hassle birth partners for updates, you are imposing yourself on a very private time for the birthing mother and the birth partners need to focus on her, not your need for latest news. They will announce the birth soon enough, when they are ready.

2) Don't turn up to the hospital (unless specifically invited)

Many mum's don't want to see anyone other than their birth partners because medical professionals keep popping by to open up her legs and check on the progress. The presence of anyone else will prevent the birthing mother from relaxing (which is hard enough to do!) and could slow the progress of any contractions. 

Birth is not a performance. If I wouldn't feel comfortable taking a poo in front of you, then I don't want you around at the birth. 

3) Shortly after I've given birth, I still don't want to see anyone. 

My boobs will be permanently out because I'm trying to figure out how to get a sleepy jaundice newborn to latch on. It's difficult. I'm very emotional. I have to focus when I'm already far too tired. My stitches really hurt and I can't sit up properly. I'm wearing a very uncomfortable maternity pad and there's dried blood all over my nightdress. My newborn cries a lot. I've cried a lot. 

I just don't want to put on a fake smile to make an endless stream of visitors feel at ease. I don't want to pass my baby around either, I want to hold him close so he can root whenever he's not in the incubator for hours at a time under UV lights. Besides, neither of us have been washed yet, so there's still stale womb juice on my baby's head. 

4) Don't come over to our house unexpectedly. 

Please wait until you're invited. In them first few weeks at home I'm mostly going to be either in my PJs covered in baby vomit/poo/wee or grabbing a rare shower when I finally get the chance. 

It's really rude of you to just turn up and incredibly embarrassing for me to have to answer the front door in a towel, with a breast pad in my hand. 

I might not even be in because there are so many medical appointments to go to and I need to go shopping for nappies & food. Don't moan when I'm not in or accuse me of 'making excuses' for you to not come round when you came over just a few days ago to hold my baby. 

5) Don't whinge to other people. 

So what you haven't taken my newborn out in the pram yet, or you've only seen my 10 week old 7 times since the day he was born. I don't want to hear any of this petty nonsense while I'm in the middle of Tesco. I'm very busy trying not to fall apart from exhaustion, bond with my newborn baby and establish breastfeeding. 

I can't feed him or bond with him if he's not with me, and frankly I don't trust anyone else at this stage to take him out. He screams his head off if I so much as put him down to go for a wee. 

Newborns want and need their parents, no one else at this stage. It's not personal, it's nature. 

6) Don't tell me I should have a second baby before I'm even out of the hospital. 

In my case, I can't have a second baby because of the massive risk pregnancy poses to my health. We even told people who asked us (not that we should have had to), that this was the case. Despite this, I still had one individual sit in my house, telling me all of the negative things they assumed to be true of only children (they're selfish, arrogant, weird, can't work with others and can't share things, apparently). I'm an only child. My son will be an only child. Obviously I was personally offended by this. 

The number of children a couple has is not for you to decide and it's not up for discussion. Your views are unwelcome, invasive and incredibly rude. 

7) Please don't forget the new dad. 

He's had a rough time too of bouncing between work and the labour ward. After the very brief two weeks of paternity leave (usually spent welcoming the many visitors), he'll then be torn between work and wanting to spend time with his new family. He'll be chronically sleep deprived too. 

Ask him how he's doing or whether there is any way you can help the new family. Like getting some essentials in for them or taking a meal around for them so that they can spend quality time together. Certainly don't observe from the side of the room when a new dad changes a nappy for the first time and make snarky remarks about his abilities.

8) Once you've visited the new family, wished them well, and/or offered help, leave them to it for a few weeks. 

It's ok to check in via text every so often, but don't invite yourself back round a week later. It's too soon. It feels like it was just yesterday you sat around drinking our tea and holding our newborn. In the nicest way possible, go away. Please. We just want to eat/wash/sleep at the next available opportunity. No more greeting, smiling and hosting. 

9) Don't mention a new mum's post-pregnancy body shape or weight. 

At all. Ever. It's the furthest thing from her mind right now and she doesn't need to be made to feel even more self-conscious that she already is! This is So. Damn. Rude. 

If you wouldn't want me commenting on your weight, then why is mine up for discussion just because I've given birth recently?!

10) Remember that as a new little family, we will come out of hibernation when we're ready, at some point. 

Please be patient with us! Eventually you'll be seeing us pushing our buggy around here, there and everywhere and we will be very happy to leave our toy-strewn house to go out for meals at (kid-friendly) restaurants, picnics in the park and trips to the soft play area.

A note to our birth partners/dads

Protect the birthing mother from outside interference at all costs. Her job is to give birth, not to give regular press releases to all of the various relations! Your job is to advocate for her when she's unable to shout up for herself, including during medical interventions. Discuss what she wants in advance regarding birth plans, rules on visitors afterwards etc. and stand up for her wishes. 

Be sure to politely ask people to leave your home or the maternity ward if you sense she's uncomfortable or upset and under no circumstances, allow anyone to dismiss her as 'just being hormonal'. Not only is this really patronising, but this will fuel her fire so more when she's obviously upset because she has a lot to process and get through right now. She may be a warrior queen for getting through birth, but she will still need your help and support. 

And finally, congratulations on this exciting and stressful time!

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