First time around, doing all the reading and attending all the classes, I was under some huge pregnancy and parenting misguided notions, and I’m hoping that second time around I’ve learnt from those facts or helpful advice.
1. Having painkillers, epidural or an actual C-section is not the easy way. It is not the cowardly way either. It makes you no less of a woman, parent or human being (even if I do have some vagina jealousy — I am jealous of those who have given birth naturally).
2. Having painkillers, epidual or a C-section will not stop you from breastfeeding. I swear, these things are the very reason I was so anti having them all. Every antenatal class, all the breastfeeding information made it sound like painkillers, etc would seriously hinder breastfeeding. I am in no way trying to say that they don’t have an effect on bf, but I successfully fed for 366 days and had pain relief, epidural and a C-section. I asked a friend the other day and she said she remembered feeling like that – her two children were C-sections and breastfed. Even worse, on my first meeting with the VBAC team, the midwife, after asking how I fed Elvis and how long for, then told me that a having a C section in general causes problems for breastfeeding. Did you not hear me, woman?
3. Babies who breastfeed will do so constantly, on demand, they will be clingy and only want Mummy for milk. Nope. I was so worried about getting a clingy baby just because I was feeding. My son never rooted around for milk on me and has always had a streak of independence. I wonder if he can’t smell sometimes, because he truly never rooted. I watched 9 month old baby-friends get tired and root on their mums, never, ever happened with Elvis.
4. All babies have growth spurts. All babies will have sleep regressions. Well, I never noticed either in 15 months.
5. Formula fed babies sleep through the night quicker than bf. That’s funny! I did, in those first two months of sleep deprivation worry that my bf baby would never sleep through the night. At 4 months my bf baby was, my formula fed baby friends still aren’t at over a year. Even now I know toddlers 6 months older that have far more sleep issues that Elvis, now they’re all on cow’s milk so clearly it has nothing to do with formula versus breast, it’s just the person!
6. Babies cannot self wean from the booby before a year. Well, I stopped offering at 9 months and he didn’t ever ask for it (I did still force him twice a day!)
7. Everything passes. Everything gets better. In those first few weeks I truly couldn’t believe those things. People told me that after 2 weeks things would look up, then 1 month, then 2. Nope, it was never going to happen. I could not see that far away. I could not see how it would ever happen. Well, it did. I survived.
8. Dummies are awful, a human nipple and should be weaned by one. My son had the human nipple option and screamed when all he wanted to do was suck to sleep and he kept getting milk from me! As for weaning by 1, Elvis only has his dummy in a cot and is never allowed it elsewhere. He isn’t addicted to it, he doesn’t take it everywhere with him. He simply sleeps with it. How is that awful?
9. A C-section is awful, painful and, as it’s major surgery, will leave you bed-ridden and mentally scarred. A natural birth is easy and has no long lasting effects. Ummm, how about tears, stitches, being unable to sit down, forceps causing headaches. I know some mums who have issues regarding having had a C-section, but not me. It was the best thing for me and my baby at that point.
10. Every baby can take a bottle. Okay, we’re talking breastfed here and maybe, with enough practice they can. Maybe once you find the right kind of teat and you can express enough, or find the right formula that doesn’t upset their tummy. And maybe if you can get them to accept it from you, Daddy or a complete stranger. Maybe if you don’t have milk that needs flash boiling to stop it spoiling after a few hours even in the fridge. All that effort? For a night out? Dude, I have the rest of his life to have a night out, go to the cinema, so rather than figure all of that stuff out, I will not leave my baby for more than 3 hours at a time. And don’t tell me otherwise.
11. Some babies don’t like cuddling. I honestly thought that every baby wanted to be held. Elvis didn’t.
12. Breastfeeding is natural and won’t hurt if you’re doing it right. Really? So, just because something is natural means that you’re perfect at it straight off? Sex is a natural thing, right? The means to procreate is nature at it’s best, yes? So was your first time amazing? Did it rock your world? Did you get pregnant the first time you ever did it, of the first time you wanted to conceive, did you? Or did it take practice to become fantastic? Did it take time to get it right and make a life? So why should breastfeeding be fantastic and perfect straight away? Yes, babies are born with a suckling reflex, it by no means means that they can latch on perfectly straight away. Once established, feeding shouldn’t hurt, if it does, there probably is something that needs correcting. But at the beginning… nature isn’t perfect. And in that time where nature has an imperfection, where mum and baby are both learning something new, perhaps awful things occur, but no one mentions blood blisters, milk blebs, mastitis and engorgement before baby arrives, do they?
13. Something I wish that hubby had been a bit more aware of and I only told him about the other day – when a woman’s milk comes in, it can hurt. I could barely hold Elvis against my chest for a day or two because my breasts ached so badly. Hubby never realised this and didn’t try and take over a simple act of lifting him up to change his nappy.
I know that every baby is different and maybe Robin won’t sleep through as early. Maybe Robin will never learn to feed quickly. Maybe they will be clingy and only want me for milk. Maybe I will have a C-section again. But I survived one birth, newborn and year. I can do it again. The biggest difference that Robin will bring is I won’t pander to anyone else’s needs but my family. Maybe with an increased parenting confidence I will also find the confidence to tell people to butt out of our lives!