What to expect when you’re expecting is a very popular pregnancy book.  It is informative, encompassing and detailed.  It leaves no stone uncovered – or does it?  I really feel for new mothers who feel completely ready but haven’t been told the real details.  Not the stuff to completely freak you out and put you off having any more children, but the realistic facts that would be very helpful to know BEFORE the baby is born.  I have compiled a list of some things I wish I had known….

1) You do not walk out of the hospital not looking pregnant.  It would seem like once the baby is popped out, that would mean all the weight would go with it.  It doesn’t.  You’ll be lucky to fit into your tighter maternity clothes.  Advice: pack loose, comfortable clothing as you leave the hospital.  

2) You often see pictures of women holding their new babies proudly in the hospital looking beautiful and well rested.  That is not the norm.  You will have been through an emotional, exhausting day(s) or night(s) and you probably won’t look your best as the baby comes out.  By all means, still take lots of photos.  Advice: bring stuff for a shower and to make you feel refreshed.  

3) Your hormones will be up and down for the first six months or so.  Most websites warn you of the baby blues, which usually occur within a week of your baby being born.  What they don’t warn you about is that when the baby blues pass, that does not mean your moods will stabilise and you will suddenly feel normal again.  That takes years! Advice: just roll with your changing moods, as there’s not much else you can do!  If you don’t feel yourself, seek help as you may be suffering with post-partum depression.

4) You are encouraged to have skin to skin contact as soon as the baby is born and give them the breast straight away.  This is a lovely bonding experience and such an amazing way to meet your baby.  However, even if they do start feeding immediately, that does not necessarily mean smooth sailing from that point on.  It can take weeks to establish breastfeeding and it can be hard work.  Advice: problems can occur at any point, so have a support system ready in case you need it.  Use breastfeeding drop-in clinics, counsellors, health visitors, friends etc.  

5)  There is usually a moment of extreme fear when you leave the hospital with your baby for the first time.  You may be thinking to yourself “what now?”.  Firsts can be extremely daunting e.g. first bath, first car ride, first night.  It may feel strange that you are no longer just two, even though you have been waiting for the baby for what has seemed like a very long time! Advice: talk to your partner about your fears and worries, it may make you feel less anxious. 

6) People will want to come and visit you.  This is lovely but exhausting.  Limit your visitors and don’t feel embarrassed about having people help themselves to making coffee / tea.  Advice: Nap when the baby naps!

7) Don’t buy any 3-6 months clothes before the baby is born.  I found that this was the most common size of baby clothes bought as gifts.  Trust me!  (If you don’t get any in the end, you can buy them just before the 0-3 month clothes are too small.)   Advice: babies grow very quickly, they will soon be out of the small clothes you spent a fortune on!

8) You will be too tired to cook.  However, nutrition in the early days is very important (especially if breastfeeding).  Advice: if you can, cook as much as possible before the baby is born and freeze it.  You will be so grateful for good food that is easily warmed up.    

Have you got any other gems you’d like to share with our readers?  I am sure they’d be grateful for the tips!!