There is lots to do when you’re pregnant.
Attending prenatal classes, decorating the nursery, choosing names, eating well, finishing up at work … Yep pregnant women are busy.
And that doesn’t even take into account the other stuff – like growing a placenta, and a baby with eyelashes and ten little fingers.
You’ll spend pretty much your entire pregnancy trying to tick things off your to-do list, only to replace them with new jobs you have to do before the baby arrives.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter how many hours you spend meticulously planning your shopping list and reading pregnancy books; it’s still hard to prepare for life as a new mother.
10 Things All Soon-To-Be-Mamas Need To Be Prepared For
Your life is about to change forever. It’s going to come as a shock to you, so it’s a good idea to be prepared for just how much things will change.
Here are 10 things all soon-to-be mamas need to prepare themselves for:
#1: The Lack Of Sleep
If you think you’re tired now, just wait until the baby arrives. The third trimester is infamously bad for sleep, as your growing bump makes it impossible for you to get comfy at night. You guessed it… it’s got nothing on the newborn stage.
Newborn babies sleep a lot, but usually not at night and not usually for long stretches. You’ll be cluster feeding at all hours, walking the hall with your baby at 3am, and fantasising about getting eight uninterrupted hours of sleep.
#2: The Hormones
You probably already know you can expect to feel blue when your hormones drop off, a few days after the birth. The term ‘baby blues’ is often used to describe the weepy period most women experience about three to five days after the birth.
What many women are not prepared for, though, is the fact their hormones can play havoc with their moods for longer than just one day. Those early weeks of motherhood are mind-boggling enough, without having to do battle with your ever changing hormones. So cut yourself some slack.
It might take a little while for you to feel like yourself again. No wonder really, if you consider how much your life has changed in such a short space of time.
You can attend breastfeeding classes, watch the educational breastfeeding DVD your midwife gave you, and religiously study the breastfeeding chapter in your pregnancy book. Unfortunately it still won’t guarantee you a smooth beginning to your breastfeeding journey.
Breastfeeding can be tough at first, but it will get easier – and fast. One week, you’ll be dreading each feed and the next it will seem like the easiest thing in the world. Hang in there, it will be worth it.
Reach out for support when you need it and don’t be afraid to ask for help when you’re struggling. There’s plenty of help available, all you have to do is ask.
Take a look at 10 Things Lactation Consultants Wish New Mothers Knew for more advice.
#4: Postpartum Bodies
If you read glossy magazines and keep up to date with celebrity gossip, you can be forgiven for thinking your body will spring back to its pre-pregnancy size a matter of days after the birth.
In reality, it’s not that simple. Your body has been through some huge changes during pregnancy and it'll take time for things to get back to normal (or your new normal, at least).
It will take months for your bump to shrink, for your stretch marks to fade, and even for your linea nigra to disappear. And for a while your breasts will change size on a daily basis.
It’s totally normal. It will take time for your body to feel like your body again. Don’t worry – especially about what you see when you look in the mirror.
Luckily, there are plenty of mothers sharing photos of their postpartum bodies online so you can see what new motherhood really looks like, instead of the photoshopped celebrity bodies in magazines.
#5: The Monotony Of Life With A Newborn
Feed, poop, sleep. Feed, spit up, poop, sleep. The newborn stage is exhausting. Your baby needs you almost constantly, so you won’t get much in the way of downtime. The days can seem endless.
Some mamas love the newborn stage; others aren’t quite so keen on it. Either way, you’re going to spend a lot of time trapped under a sleeping baby so make sure you save a Netflix series to keep you entertained.
And remember, although it might not always feel like it, this stage will pass quickly. Really. Toddlerhood is just around the corner, and then you will barely get to sit down at all.
#6: The Soreness After Birth
Whether you had a c-section or a water birth, it will take time for your body to heal after the birth. In fact, for those who had a perfect birth experience, the postpartum pain can come as quite a shock.
Sitting down can be uncomfortable, peeing might hurt, and even walking might be out of the question. Your body has been through a lot and it'll take a few days for the swelling to go down, so give yourself time and get plenty of rest.
Don’t push yourself too hard. Give your body time to heal.
Take a look at this article with suggestions for things you can do to encourage healing.
#7: Unsolicited Advice
You probably had quite a lot of this when you were pregnant. Expect to get even more after the birth.
People love offering parenting advice. They’ll tell you how and when to wean your baby, what your baby should be wearing, and they’ll comment on your baby’s weight.
You’ll get unwanted advice from colleagues, friends, your mother-in-law and even from complete strangers in the street. It’s as much a part of motherhood as sleepless nights and dirty nappies. And yes, it’s infuriating.
#8: Feeling Overwhelmed
You spent the last nine months preparing for the birth. When it’s finally over, somebody will hand you a baby and leave you to it.
All of a sudden, you’ll be in charge of another person. A teeny tiny baby with huge eyes will look up at you and you'll realise you have no idea what you’re doing.
And you won’t have much time to stop and think about how to be a parent. You’ll be plunged in at the deep end and will have to learn on the job.
Sometimes you will feel overwhelmed. And that’s ok. Be sure to talk to your partner and friends about how you’re feeling; it might help you to feel better.
And don’t worry, you’ll do an excellent job. Your baby already loves you more than anyone else in the world.
Sex might be the last thing on your mind during the postpartum period. Or perhaps you’ll be keen to get back on the horse… Sorry, just a metaphor – there should be no actual horses involved. Ever.
You might be feeling touched out, exhausted, or worried about your postpartum body. However you feel, you should know there are plenty of other couples going through exactly the same thing.
It’s ok to not be in the mood. Don’t rush yourself. Talk to your partner about how you feel and explain you’d like to wait a little longer before having sex (if that’s what you want).
#10: Never Being Prepared For Anything Ever Again
So how do you prepare for feeling unprepared? I don’t know, but you should. After all, your days of being prepared are behind you now. That adorable baby of yours is going to throw you curve ball after curve ball, so you might as well get used to winging it.
From now on, you’ll be late for pretty much everything. Your mind will be a sleep deprived mess (for a couple of years, at least), and you’ll have to get used to not knowing what is around the corner.
As soon as you get used to something, it will change and you’ll have to adapt all over again. That’s motherhood. It’s a constantly evolving maze that you have to navigate – but don’t worry, you’re already doing a great job.