Being young, I’ve struggled with feeling equal to other mums, or feeling like an actual mum altogether. Who am I to give advice? I’m only 21!
Really, I should have appreciated from the start that Felix doesn’t care about my age, past or anything other than who I am now; to him I’m everything. That’s what ‘actually’ makes me a mum.
I’m 100% giving Luke and myself credit for surviving this first year. It’s been exhausting and confusing, and feels like the hard work, stress and emotions will never give in!
And it’s wonderful.
These are my 10 survival tips:
Nipple pads, Lanolin cream, maternity pads and HUGE underwear. Even if you’re planning on bottle feeding it will take a while for your milk to dry up. I didn’t realise how immediately you start leaking, and was completely unprepared. If you’re breast feeding, Lanolin will be your best friend; don’t even bother with anything else! The thought of switching to maternity pads and huge pants can be a horrible down grade, but you’ll be living in them for a long time… embrace the space!
Find one thing that makes you feel good, and do it big style. For example, if the only time you get to yourself is one bath in 3 weeks, make it a good one. Fill it with salts, overload the bubbles and buy some exfoliating mitts. You’ll be surprised at how good that feels.
Stock pile nappies, wipes, formula, bath supplies, whatever it is you use (especially when they’re on offer). You’ll probably be too tired to realise you’ve run out, and 2am trips to Tesco are only funny once.
Buy a decent travel system. We couldn’t afford an expensive one, but a year on (however much of a pain it is!) we are still using it. Being able to use the car seat as a pram is one of the most useful ideas anyone has ever had. Ever. Realistically our pram could take us right through to him not needing it.
Make a list of TV series and films you want to watch. Breast or bottle, you’ll spend hours sat down feeding your baby; especially during the first 3 months. I remember a week of Felix cluster feeding every evening for 6 hours straight! We watched every episode of Dexter in 2 weeks.
Do something for your Pelvic Floor. I definitely put too much faith in my youth and made zero effort to exercise. I’ve never had trouble from mine, but my bladder has been uncomfortable and problematic from the moment Felix popped out.
Accept all help, and expect to feel let down. You’re going to spend this first year sitting back and watching everybody else’s freedom. Feel grateful for the help they offer and hold back the resent for who offer none.
Work together. It’s easy to turn against one another when you’re exhausted and spent all day with the baby. Communicate! This time is hard for both Mum and Dad.
Don’t check the time. The only thing that got me through the sleepless nights was not knowing the time. If you know you’ve only slept for 2 hours, you’ll give in before your body does. Just eat when you’re hungry, keep yourself clean and sleep with your baby; it doesn’t last forever.
Caffeine isn’t a remedy. Drinking water and eating properly will regulate your energy far better. When you’re too far gone caffeine will only dehydrate you and give you a headache.