Nothing – but nothing – can prepare you for the mind-blowing impact of having your baby. Your nether regions will be very sore, your breasts will be tender, huge and unfamiliar, and you’re likely to be hormonal.
As the nation celebrates the arrival of the new Prince, it’s important to remember that for Kate and for other mums the next few weeks will be a strange, dreamlike twilight zone, where night and day merge into one, and you wander around in an exhausted but (hopefully) euphoric haze.
As a new mum you’ll never know tiredness like this again, but there will be days when you’ll be so bursting with love for your baby, you’ll cry.
Immediately after the birth
If you gave birth in hospital, try to make the most of your time there to rest and learn about caring for your baby. The midwives will spend as much time with you as they can, helping you breastfeed and teaching you how to bathe the baby and change his nappy.
Back home with baby
Many mums spend a day or two in hospital after the birth, which means they get home just as their milk kicks in, the baby blues hit and everyone wants to come and visit. Try these coping tips:
- Forget about housework and cooking, just sleep when you can.
- Remind yourself continually that this chaos won’t last.
- Remind yourself that you need to rest to make milk for your baby (write it down and ask your partner to read it to you every morning).
- Don’t get hung up on bath times. If your baby loves a bath (and dads are just as good at doing baths as mum) then great. If he really doesn’t like being bathed, just ‘top and tail’ (wash face and bottom) for a few days.
- Don’t worry about daytime versus night-time clothes – your baby won’t know the difference. As long as he’s clean, he doesn’t need to be in a new outfit twice a day.
- If your baby is fractious, experiment with different holding positions and – if that fails – hand him to someone else. Quite often a calmer pair of arms (and a body that doesn’t smell of breast milk) will settle him. If there’s no one else around, place him in his cot/Moses basket, check he’s safe, then walk away for a few minutes. Sometimes babies get over-stimulated and just want a bit of time on their own to cool off.
- Don’t torture yourself by trying to remember how many times you were up during the night so you can play ‘competitive exhaustion’ with your partner or other mums. Far better to just float through the night in a half-sleep daze with the lights dimmed and the clock turned to the wall. After a while you’ll wake up in the morning unable to remember whether you were up in the night or not.
Your post-birth body
Having been through birth, your body will need time to recover. You’ll be bleeding quite heavily (even if you’ve had a c-section), and your breasts will probably leak. Don’t expect to feel sexy! Your bedtime outfit will include: a sleep bra to hold breast pads in place; huge knickers stuffed with an industrial-size sanitary pad: and a big nightie to cover the whole lot up when you’re pacing the corridors all night. But rest assured, it will pass. Bleeding stops after about a month (sometimes much sooner), the leaky boobs will settle down once feeding gets into a rhythm, and eventually, your baby will adopt a sleeping routine which means you can spend most of the night in bed, ideally asleep!
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