You’ve just found out you’re pregnant and you’re ecstatic….Yay!
You’re at the end of your first trimester and now feel more comfortable about sharing your joyful secret with loved ones, friends, family, colleagues at work and maybe even the lady at the check out counter at Tesco.
What you didn’t bargain for and are unwittingly setting yourself up for is the barrage of solicited and unsolicited advice you will no doubt be bombarded with from now, until you have your baby and even beyond.
The main culprits are usually members of the older generation; everyone who’s had a baby feels entitled to tell you how you should feel and what way to raise your own baby. The worst part is that they mean well and think they’re helping you.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by all the conflicting views and opinions (trust me they will be), I’ll tell you what I tell everyone; Listen to the advice but ultimately only do whatever feels right FOR YOU! See,even I’m giving you advice…guilty! :-)
Here’s my list of some things I found unnecessary and unhelpful.
1. Don’t Ever Miss Antenatal Classes
This is like the holy grail of pregnancy. How can you even think of having baby and not attend antenatal classes??? What’s going to prepare you for the unknown and the trying phase that is looking after a new-born?
I’ve never been to an antenatal class.Not with either of my two kids. This doesn’t mean that I didn’t want to or that I dislike them, I just could never get back from work in time to get there in time. Besides, here in the UK, you need to book by a certain stage in your pregnancy…i think it’s 20 weeks or so and I missed that deadline both times.
I was sooooo worried with my first baby because I didn’t know anything about bringing up a baby and I could really have used some heads up from the classes. It didn’t also help that everyone kept asking me about them and my mid wife made me feel like I was never going to get by without antenatal classes. For some really weird reason,I was most worried about the fact that I couldn’t change a diaper! I think I just felt that If I could change a baby’s diaper….everything else would be just fine….Yeah, I know, I’m funny right?
So baby came, hubby changed his first diaper and that was how I learnt. With everything else, I just went with my intuition and I had a little help from Google too. In this era of 21st century mums and google mums, there’s literarilly no information you can’t find on the internet, albeit, not always accurate, but this is where you apply common sense to sift through the garbage.
Antenatal Classes are great fun and help prepare you for the journey ahead but if you’ve missed them or didn’t go to all of your classes…..don’t sweat it. There’s more than one way to learn!
2. Advice on how labour will be
Why anyone would think they can prepare you for labour is beyond me.You can read up all you want on the topic, you can ask a thousand women how their labour went and not one of them will be the same. Even your midwife will tell only advise you on things they will do ‘in response’ to circumstances on the day but never how the day will go.
So you get people trying to explain the pain to you and describe the whole process only for D-Day to arrive and you discover it’s NOTHING like what they described; hence you add a few people’s names to your hit list for either making you too scared as your labour went like a breeze or making you too relaxed only for you to spend 24 hours in labour trying to get your baby out.
When people ask me how labour is…I simply tell them…it’s indescribable. There’s no point soliciting for advice on an event that is as unpredictable and unique as going into labour.
This one really pissed me off. As you’ll likely notice during the course of your pregnancy; there will be endless lists telling you what to buy and what not to buy, half of which you will find you could have done without. All the lists I saw had this item in them and for some stupid reason…I actually bought one…Why oh why I would think I need a thermometer to check my baby’s bath water is beyond me. In Nigeria, women have been bathing their babies without a flipping thermometer for centuries and they’ve managed just fine!
Sometimes, you need to balance your culture with that of whichever country you eventually make your home in. Just because, it’s used here doesn’t mean ‘I’ need it. Needless to say I never ever used it. I even forgot that I had one for the first few months and when I found it, I had to hide it from my extended family because I knew they would laugh their heads off if they saw it.
In Nigeria, we test baby’s bath water by dipping your fingers or hands in the water or your elbow. These are very sensitive parts of the body and if you find the water scalding, then it’s too hot for your baby. I think this is just common sense.
You can however buy a bath thermometer if you like..(admittedly, there are some really cute ones;mine was a Winnie the poo one!)…..you still could, it would make a nice addition to the decoration in the nursery.
4.Buying a Top and Tail Bowl
This is one of those times where Google gurgles out all kinds of information and you really have to sieve through it to pick out which one is right for you. When I bought my baby bath from Mothercare, it came with a top and tail bowl as most of them do and I specifically bought one in a set like this one because I had read in several places that I would be needing one.
I got home and started to stare at it in wonder. What exactly do I need a top and tail bowl for? Further research led me to the answer that it’s for when you want to give baby a quick wash…say after a really soiled diaper change or a mini bath. So you put the soap in one bit and the rinsing water in the other bit.
This all sounds practical and great….only…again,my Nigerian roots made this item obsolete. We don’t ‘top n tail’ in Nigeria….at least, not that way.First of all, we’re not likely to do a lot of mini baths, it’s either the whole shebang or a quick rub down and when we do mini baths….most Nigerians have a bucket at home already…for various reasons. I can’t imagine a Nigerian home without a bucket so this would suffice instead of the top n tail bowl. Needless to say, mine has never been used and has been in the loft ever since.
5. Make Sure You Sit on Hot Water As soon as You Can After the Birth
Are you kidding me? Even if I didn’t have hospital backing to not do this, there’s no way I’m sitting my ass on scalding hot water when I’ve just had a baby! This is typical advise within the Nigerian community to help you heal your bruised fanny and it can be a tricky one to avoid if you’ve got family staying over to help you.
Maybe this used to work back in the days with the old type of stitching that was used but if you do this now, you’re more than likely to actually harm yourself than heal your bruises as the steam from the hot water could make your stitching come loose! Avoid this advice by ALL means!
6. You must Give your baby water to quench their thirst
I can see why our older Nigerian generation would think this was absolutely important. It makes sense if you think about it…as adults, you can’t keep eating without drinking water. Only, these are not adults, they’re babies and they don’t eat solid food, they have breast milk which has been scientifically proven to be enough for them in the first few months of life. Scientific evidence is good enough for me on this one.
7. You must wash all Babies Clothes before they are worn
I’m sorry but this is a bit OTT for me. Granted, I am a lazy arse and I find it hard enough getting through our weekly laundry let alone add brand new clothes to the pile. I personally don’t tend to wash new clothes before wearing them. Yes, someone else may have tried it on before me or it may have been dropped on the floor for several hours before being hung up again but unless the person who tried it on before me has (
a.)got body odour or (b)the garment has been stained or it’s visibly not in the same state as the other ones on the rack, it’s going straight in my wardrobe. I’m one of those people who wear clothes they’ve just bought the next day after buying it. That doesn’t leave much room for washing it first.
I love the smell and crispness of new clothes especially baby ones.Once you’ve washed them, they just never feel or look the same again. I know there’s an argument to be said for babies because their sensitive skin might react with the chemicals used in producing the garment but isn’t this why we have quality control?
8. Sleep When baby Sleeps
This is by far I think, the most commonly given piece of advice to mums and mums to be ever! Everyone advises you to try to rest when your baby is resting so you can recharge because it’s impossible to sleep while baby is awake….obviously.
I’ve asked all the mums I know here in the UK if they ever manage to do this and not one of them has been able to.Maybe its just my circle of friends or maybe it’s just me but I find this a very impractical piece of advice even though it’s given with the best intentions for the mother’s welfare. Isn’t it true mums, that it is when baby sleeps that you manage to get anything done? People tell you it’s OK to have your house strewn with all kinds of rubbish and that no one will care of if you haven’t done the dishes in three days.Maybe no will care…but I do. It’s my house and no matter what’s going on….I don’t want to see it looking like the house of Mr foolish. It’s usually when baby is sleeping that I can go have a 5 minute or sometimes even three-minute shower, it’s usually when baby sleeps that you can quickly grab a bite, it;s usually when baby sleeps that you can quickly do some….not even all the dishes, it’s usually then that you can load the laundry. Your world revolves around those couple of hours (if you’re lucky) that baby is sleeping to get anything done. So unless you live in Nigeria, where there is usually a house maid or family and friends on hand to help you with looking after baby, I don’t see how this could work.
9. Don’t Buy a Lot of Clothes
In an effort to help you save money, people will advice you not to buy a lot of clothes because, traditionally, most of the gifts you will receive from well wishers will be clothes. This is actually practical advice; as we all know babies don’t need that many clothes since they grow out of them so quickly so why waste money? You see, the only problem with this is it’s like asking a child in a candy store not to touch anything! Every new mum I know still buys too many clothes anyways so this point is moot. You keep telling yourself you’re not buying much, baby will really need this and that plus some clothes are just too cute to pass by and who doesn’t want their baby to look gorgeous? We don’t do it on purpose, it’s just natural.
These are the ones I can remember right now, I’m quite certain there were more. I’ll add them in some other post as I remember.
I have to put a Disclaimer here…..just because I found these items or pieces of advice not useful doesn’t mean other women out there don’t too. Some of these things might have been of immense help to you, so I have to say that every woman has what works for her and what doesn’t. You just need to find out what works for ‘YOU’.