I am by no means an expert nor do I pretend to have it all "under control" but having a newborn forces you to learn VERY quickly and I've discovered a few things in my first few months of being a mum that I wish someone would have told me before I started on this crazy journey.
Here's what I would tell my eagerly expectant self:
1. Don't expect to look like your pre-pregnant self straight away - after I gave birth to my baby I knew I would still have a bit of a "bump" but I didn't think I would still look pregnant! My tummy was so swollen and BIG. When the swelling finally went down I was left with excess skin on my tummy and stretch marks from my boobs down to my thighs. That's ok, you can't expect after only 12 weeks post-partem that miraculously you're body will be back to normal. Give it time, the marks will fade and the skin should shrink ,relatively, back to normal. Ok, some woman are capable of shrinking back to their former glory within a matter of weeks but I'm not that lucky.
2. You will be an emotional mess for the first few months - again this is normal. Your body has spent the last 9 months producing a variety of different hormones to grow a human being and now that said human being has left the vicinity those hormones have nowhere to go. I'm not quite sure this is how it works but you get my drift. Slowly though, much like your body shape, this will change and you'll become more normal and not so over-sensitive, crabby and emotional. Note: I'm still waiting for this to happen.
3. It's ok to bawl - some days are just shitty. It's ok to cry, it's healthy and there is nothing wrong with it. If you want to cry because it's 3am in the morning and your baby won't go back to sleep then cry away. If you want to cry because your house is a pigsty, you haven't had a shower in a week and your busting to go to the loo but can't because you've got a baby attached to your boob then don't hold back. Just because you feel like crying doesn't mean your suffering from post-natal depression it can just mean that you've had a crap day, sleep deprived and overwhelmed with the responsibility of having a little human being COMPLETELY dependent on you.
4. Don't expect to be able to get into a routine straight away - babies don't know routines they also spend most of their early days feeding, pooing and crying, that's fine let them do it! Don't put pressure on yourself to get into a routine just because some unhelpful soul has told you that you need to or a book you read - back when you thought parenting surely wasn't that difficult - told you too. Give yourself and your baby some time to adjust, find a rhythm and just go with it.
5. Want to use a dummy? or feed your baby formula? Then do it! - ignore what other people say do what's best for you, your baby and your sanity! As I've said before, consider these things a tool for your survival.
6. Take people's advice with a grain of salt - you'll find that EVERYONE is an expert and EVERYONE will just love to tell you how you should parent. Don't like the advice? Smile, nod, pretend you're agreeing and ignore it, don't bother using up precious baby brain space.
7. Find yourself a mummy fellowship - join a local coffee group or a Facebook group. When I found out I was pregnant I joined a Facebook group of expectant Mum's that were due around about the same time I was. It was one of the best decisions I could have made! It's a safe place to vent, moan and celebrate with woman that are going through the same trials and tribulations as you are. When other people struggle to understand you or what you may be going through then you can pretty much guarantee they will. It's safe to say I've made a great group of friends who are always there for advice or just an ear for my problems.
My last piece of advice and probably the most important one I could have told myself is - do what you think is right! You know your baby better than anyone else and don't let anyone make you doubt yourself. Stick to your guns and do what YOU think is best for you and your family!