Tani du Toit.
Tani du Toit.

What we wish we knew about babies


IF you're a new mum, these revelations might give you a bit of peace of mind.

A little while back I asked some of my friends who have also recently become mums for the first time, what they wish they knew about having a baby. I sifted through their responses and listed the top 10.

1:Don't go into the birth with any expectations. It's always best to listen to your doctor or midwife because they know what is best for you and baby. Unfortunately, I was terrified of having a C-section and although I really should have had one, I cried and pleaded with the doctor until he decided that it was possible to do a vacuum extraction. Both my baby and I took months to heal. 

2. While you're in nesting mode, make one room in your home super comfy. Once baby is home, you will be living there day in and out for the first few weeks. Have lots of cushions and comfy blankets and a table with the TV remote, phone, a pile of mags and a bowl of fruit and snacks nearby.

3. In the first few weeks, I would experience exhilarating ups and devastating lows in a matter of minutes. I'd feel guilty one minute and excited the next. I wish I didn't let it worry me so much because it's just part of the hormonal roller-coaster and it does get better.

4. Not everything comes as naturally as you think it will. Pre-natal classes are a fantastic idea but no matter how many classes you attend or books you read, each mother and child is different and not everything always works the way you may have "planned". Don't expect to be a perfect mother right from day dot ¬- it takes practice. And not everyone warms to their baby straight away but this is OK. It is completely normal and you are not alone.

5. You get so much advice from so many different people and you feel like you have to take on everything and try all the different things you have been told. Don't. Whether you feel it straight away or not, you have a connection with your baby and you will know what is best. And, if you have a good thing going, don't change it just because of what someone said.

6. Sleep when your baby sleeps. Or at least, have a lie down. Do not clean!

7. The first few weeks can be incredibly isolating and lonely so don't just sit at home. A daily walk outside for 30 minutes to get some fresh air and meeting strangers who ask after baby makes all the difference. Your local clinic should have a list of mother's groups in your area and the Australian Breastfeeding Association has a great website and helpline available.

8. As much as you're told "breast is best", not every woman can breastfeed. My son was a month old before I found out my milk never came in properly because of his tied tongue.  I persisted because I thought that he was just a hungry baby. It was hard on both of us and I spent a lot of time in tears because I thought that I was doing something wrong. At the end of the day your baby is getting fed and it doesn't matter how it is, breast or bottle. There are so many more things to being a mother than just breastfeeding.

9. The first six weeks felt like forever because it was as if all that my baby wanted to do was nurse. And I felt useless because I didn't think I was cut out for being a mum. It is a tough initiation but as a new mum you have to go through it. Looking back, it is all so worth it and I am stronger for it.

10. Don't be a hero.  No mother is supermum. It's okay to not make the bed or do the washing and if everything is overwhelming, ask for help.  Most people would jump at the thought to give you a hand. I used to just sit and cry because I felt so alone but you're not, your family and friends are just a phone call away and everyone knows how tough it can be having a new baby.

Remember … the doctor, midwife, aunt, nanna, your mum and sister or brother with all their opinions don't live in your house with your baby. Whatever you decide to do, it's only a problem when it's a problem for you. 

Special Delivery is a weekly column.

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