Tuesday, June 29, 2010

New baby wisdom

Six days to go before the arrival of #3. Now have ankles to rival Shrek and a waddle like Jemima Puddleduck. Neither v glamorous. Enough already, it's time.

With D-day fast approaching, I've been thinking back to the misty months following the births of Firstborn and the Small(er) One and trying to give myself some good advice for this time round. There's nothing quite like hindsight, after all.

1. Give yourself a break. The world will not end if the house is a mess for the first couple of months or if you stay in your PJs all day for the first couple of weeks (try to change and shower once a day, though - there is a difference between being a tired new mom and a dirty slob-out). If hubby has the nerve to complain that the house is more shanty town than Martha Stewart, tell him he's a schmuck who needs to shut up and cough up the moolah for maid service. If he bitches that you don't look like Heidi Klum two weeks after birth, present him with a cost estimate for large amounts of plastic surgery, weekly oxygen/ caviar/ gold dust facials, a new designer wardrobe, a fancy home gym plus personal trainer, oh and don't forget the nutritionist, food delivery service and home visits from a top celeb hairdresser. Then watch him turn an interesting shade of puce and choke as he attempts to eat his words.

2. Don't let supermodels be your baby weight role models. Get this straight in your head right now - you are going to look as if you're six months pregnant for longer than you're likely to feel comfortable with. It takes nine months to put it on and can take a year to come off (and even then you'll probably never be quite the same again). Unless you're willing to commit to a hard-core diet and fitness regime (and as per above - a little help from your friendly neighbourhood surgeon) don't bother to cry over tight jeans. The best things you can do for yourself are breast feed (helps your uterus to shrink back to normal size), stay positive and start some light exercise when your doctor gives you the all clear.

3. It's all about Me: it's all too easy to be so focused on your baby that you forget about yourself. But remember this - if you don't eat properly then your baby won't either. Yes, you'll be exhausted and the last thing you'll want to do is cook. So enlist help from whoever is around to assist you in the early days by asking them to prepare some easy and nutritious stuff that you can grab from the fridge when hunger strikes: raw veggie sticks to dip into a tub of low-fat cream cheese; a big bowl of fruit salad; cheese cubes and cold cuts; natural yoghurt with a drizzle of honey for a sweet fix; tubs of nuts (especially brazil nuts which contain selenium, good to ward off the baby blues); salads; cold pasta to throw into the microwave with a simple tomato sauce or pesto... just keep it healthy. Take it from a former sugar junkie: eating well makes a big difference and a plate of wholemeal pasta will make you feel better for longer than the quick-fix you get from a donut. Sad but true.

4. Don't turn yourself into a social pariah: ok, so you'll still be fat, cry at the drop of a hat, have leaky boobs and bags under your eyes to rival Luis Vuitton, but if you're still mooching at home by the time your perinium/ c-scar has healed then you need to get out. By this I mean, you need to have gone out with your girlfriends without baby and had a bloody good laugh at least once. If you are still breast feeding then express some milk before you go so you can let your hair down without worrying about getting back in time for the late feed/ intoxicating your baby when you do so. And whatever you do, don't feel guilty about leaving baby with your partner or a babysitter; it is highly unlikely that your baby will hold a grudge about it.

5. Take it easy: babies are babies. They are not a challenge to be won or lost. Don't get into competition with other mothers about how well or badly your baby sleeps/ cries/ poos. It's normal to worry, especially for first time mothers, but babies do cry - it's how they express themselves, you could almost say it's their hobby. Not all babies are placid little bundles of joy, but that doesn't make them 'bad' or mean that you are failing somehow; read Tracey Hogg for valuable insight into different personality types and some helpful tips on calming your baby. Couple of hints though - try not to let them fall asleep on the breast or be rocked to sleep every night or naptime; this is charming when they are tiny but it gets quite dull if they won't/ can't sleep any other way one year on... teach them to fall asleep on their own, without you, as soon as you can, for the sake of your marriage and your sanity!

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