19 pieces of advice to my formerly pregnant self, on the eve of giving birth

September 26, 2013

What would you go back and tell yourself on the night before you gave birth, armed with what you know now? I was watching the BBC2 Midwives programme – responsible for a recent attack of the broods – and started thinking about both Eliza’s birth story and how the actual birth process is such a big focus for future parents, but only a really tiny part of the parenting story. There’s so much that you have absolutely no idea about at the time. Which is probably a very good thing.

What I wish I'd known *before* having a baby - great advice for pregnant women from a new mum. Make sure you read this if you're pregnant or about to have a baby!

Last month, to mark Eliza’s 18-month-iversary, I wrote a letter to the future-her of 18 years. As she’s reached her next monthly milestone, I thought I’d take a look back instead, prompted by the TV programme. So if my 18 month post was a letter of love to my future daughter, consider this a 19 month note to self. Here’s the pieces of advice I’d give to to the formerly pregnant me:

  1. Bad news, labour is not like period pains (thanks, Mum)…
  2. …’tightenings’ (thanks, wildly unrealistic childbirth books)…
  3. …or gentle waves of pain lapping at the shore of your uterus (thanks so much, NCT)
  4. Things labour is like; on reflection, blessedly quick
  5. And it’ll give you conversation fodder with new mum friends for months and months after
  6. Nappies go on the other way round (it would be ever-so-slightly embarrassing for the hospital doctor to have to point this out to you, wouldn’t it?)
  7. Your baby will sleep really well in the hosptial cot, but not at all at home
  8. So it’s inevitable that, as soon as you finally get the baby to sleep, the doorbell will ring and wake her up, every time
  9. And on that note, make sure you do your nursing bra back up when you answer the door to the postman…
  10. ….the delivery lady…
  11. …and the gas man
  12. If baby books really did have the answer, there wouldn’t need to be so many. Read the newspaper you bought three weeks ago instead
  13. Even though you now own 100 million muslins, you’ll end up using your expensive face cloths to wipe up sick at some point
  14. You and the washing machine will become best of friends…
  15. …but you’ll hate the washing basket with a passion. On the day you get to the bottom of it, there will be more sick and it’ll instantly be full again of sheets and expensive face cloths (that will also be the day your mum visits and innocently remarks that you ‘don’t do much washing, do you?’)
  16. Talking about what a great night of sleep you had is the new politics or religion; don’t mention it in polite conversation. Or on Twitter
  17. But hey, it’s OK – you won’t know what that is for a really long time (pregnancy insomnia really doesn’t prepare you, either).
  18. Everything really is a phase, and at 19 months you’ll look back and wonder why you spent so long obsessing over breastfeeding, rolling, crawling, weaning, breathing and so on
  19. But you’ll never quite get your head around how amazing it is that you made this completely brilliant little person that you love more than all the hours of sleep and hot cups of tea in the world. And I hope you never do.


  • PhotoPuddle

    September 26, 2013 at 3:14 pm

    The midwife at our antenatal classes said it wasn’t pain it was ‘pressure’! Err, OK then!?

    1. gillian

      October 2, 2013 at 9:18 pm

      Of course it’s not 🙂 Hilarious! x

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  • Claire @ Great British Family blog

    September 27, 2013 at 11:00 am

    Great post, I really enjoyed this. It’s made me think what I would tell myself. Probably the first thing would be “the contractions will start, you won’t need to go in for induction in the morning”. My waters broke 24 hours before my contractions started (just 3 hours before I was due to go in for induction, I really did not want to be induced!

  • 3yearsandhome

    September 27, 2013 at 11:23 am

    Add: husbands should bring a spare set of clothes to the hospital as labour is so painful chances are that you’ll puke on him (or was that just me?)

    1. gillian

      October 2, 2013 at 9:19 pm

      Well, I guess that’s what they’re there for! I should also add: don’t let you husband eat your snacks (as he’ll chip his tooth and never let you forget it!)

  • edlyu

    September 27, 2013 at 12:26 pm

    Have your going home outfit prepared-at least in your mind- when you are about 4 months pregnant.What fits you then will probably fit you after the birth.

  • Jane

    September 28, 2013 at 10:25 am

    ‘Labour is like gentle waves of pain lapping at the shores of your uterus’ !!!

    And having your leg cut off with a rusty saw ‘stings a bit.’

    I remember an NCT counsellor showing us all about birth by way of a knitted doll. Meanwhile out in the corridor us heavily pregnant women could hear shrieks and screams but whenever we glanced nervously at each other, the counsellor would smile benignly and say, ‘they’re making a bit of a fuss.’

    The thing is as you say in post 19, IT ALL PASSES. In the end all children learn to feed and dress themselves to walk and poo in something other than their nappies. Landmarks like ‘at what age is your child meant to be doing something’ is just a device to worry you. Trust yourself more and the ‘experts’ less.

  • Jude

    September 29, 2013 at 4:48 pm

    Great post, but you forgot the bit about having a pelvic floor like a cat flap for months afterwards cos you forgot to do those damn exercises they all go on about in NCT.

    1. gillian

      October 2, 2013 at 9:20 pm

      Yep! Or even if you actually do them it won’t have any effect at all. It’s all glamour, isn’t it?!

  • Sam

    October 3, 2013 at 9:53 pm

    With 2 small children I have figured that it will be another 2 years before I get a full nights sleep. Roll on 2015.

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