During pregnancy, you are inundated with information about having a baby, looking after them and how you will feel post-partum. We found a lot of the information and advice we got from people turned out not relevant to us at all – some of it, I wish we hadn’t heard!
I asked a few of our new-parent friends what they wish they hadn’t heard before their babies arrived and here is what they said:
“I wish I hadn’t heard the phrase ‘bounce back’ after labour.”
Having kept fairly fit all my life, I was totally unprepared for my new body. Celebrity photos mentioning no names (Beyoncé…) are far from reality and so, so unhelpful. I’ve slowly learnt to accept my mummy body and am not putting myself under too much pressure to ‘bounce back’. We underestimated how much new babies like (and need) to be held in the first few weeks (ie all the time…) and my priorities have changed – bouncing back comes second to baby cuddles!
“I wish I hadn’t heard about birth plans making birth easier.”
Well, it’s not the birth plan I wish I hadn’t heard about, its more I wish the healthcare professionals we worked with didn’t encourage us to be so reliant on our plan. We had a hard time with the birth of our little one (induction, theatre etc.) and it was so different to what we had planned – we realised quickly it’s not up to you! I wish people had told us that. A plan is great for making informed choices and although we wouldn’t change anything that happened, being a bit less blinkered by a hypothetical plan might have made the reality less stressful! You feel pressured when things “don’t go to plan” and our birth plan made us feel like things were going “wrong”.
“I wish I hadn’t heard that breastfeeding would ‘make me feel so happy.’ “
When I was overdue, the midwife recommended I use my breast pump to encourage labour. After a few sessions I realised every time I pumped a wave of sadness would hit me. I looked it up and realised other women experienced it too, and it’s called Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex or D-MER. D-MER is a physical reaction to hormone changes when you breastfeed. Most women who have it are sensitive to hormonal shifts and like me, experience a short burst of sadness or a hollow or homesick feeling which goes away in a few minutes. Other women have more extreme reactions. Unsurprisingly this means many women stop breastfeeding very early on. D-MER is something you don’t always hear about.
“I wish I hadn’t heard babies only feed every two hours.”
In a breastfeeding class before birth, the lady smiled and said “your baby will pretty much be born with an eating schedule…” not true. Our introduction to cluster feeding was a moment that I am sure we will look back at as the most stressful part of parenthood for us, one I hope we can eventually laugh about. Cluster feeding is when your child feeds numerous time in a couple of hours trying to get enough food to sleep through the night (this still doesn’t actually happen though!). It was stressful not knowing about this gem as we were both sure our baby didn’t need feeding again. Now though, with our added knowledge after extensive internet searches, we prepare ourselves for cluster feeding between 6 to 9pm.
“I wish I hadn’t heard everyone else’s birth story in the world.”
The one thing I would say is never let other’s birth stories worry you. Everyone is so different and I really believe the calmer you are the better. I am someone who classes myself as having a very low pain threshold but I would say my birthing experience was amazing and that is with no pain relief and a minor tear. I would say don’t let those stories you hear fuel the fear of the unknown. Go with it, enjoy your pregnancy and your baby and the birth really can be a positive experience.
So don’t always believe what you hear from people – every experience is different. Take things as they come and don’t worry if your experience contradicts “what you’ve heard”!