Boobing with Confidence: Breastfeeding Tips from a Relatively New Mum

So world breastfeeding week has come to an end. I totally wanted to get on the bandwagon and spam my Instagram and Facebook pages with breastfeeding stuff but I kept finding myself deep in the rabbit hole of making online shopping carts for no reason (please confirm I’m not the only one who does this) and I was too busy (slack) to post anything on the subject. I read a bajillion articles and liked a bajillion photos though, got caught up in the typical arguments and so on. It got me thinking about the struggles new mums face accompanied with the crazy amounts of misleading information that we get about breastfeeding and the amount of mistrust we have in our own bodies to feed our babies. Here’s what I’ve learned in the five months of exclusively breastfeeding my daughter.

It’s a learned skill.

You’d think it would just come naturally right? Well for the majority of us it doesn’t and your baby is pretty crap at it to start with too. It took Violet and I around three weeks for the toe curling pain to ease and my nipples to not be scabs anymore. It was pretty intense and I can easily see why it’s not for everyone. The best thing to do is relax but that’s incredibly difficult when it hurts so much. We eventually worked out what a proper latch looks and feels like and it’s second nature now, we can walk the streets and feed at the same time whereas before we needed to be sitting upright with our breastfeeding pillow and everything we needed within arms reach. I promise it gets easier.

Most babies have a preferred side.

I always (and occasionally still) had one regular boob and one ginormous, engorged boob. Every time I tried to get my bub to feed from the less preferred side she’d crack ’em. I discovered I had a really strong let down on that side and the fast flow was too much for her. I fixed the issue by expressing a little before I fed her and used the football hold position so she didn’t realise she was on the crap boob. Now she’s a monster and latches on to anything you put in front of her, she’s had a go at my nose and somehow even my knee, it’s difficult to imagine we ever struggled with getting a correct latch.

There’s this thing called cluster feeding and it sucks.

Early on while you’re breastfeeding your baby likes to bunch feeds close together, it helps to stimulate and establish your milk supply.

If it wasn’t for my sister in law who is my breastfeeding oracle I wouldn’t have had a clue about it, my health nurse never talked about it and it didn’t come up in antenatal classes either.

Basically from about 4pm to 9pm every evening I had a fussy, unsettled baby attached to me. It’s hard work and it’s intense but it’s normal and it does end. You need all the support you can get and all of the Netflix because you’re going to be trapped for hours. It went on for several weeks after I had my bub and she still does it occasionally as she approaches a growth spurt or enters a leap. This is a time when many new mums switch to formula or supplement as they assume they aren’t making enough milk to satisfy their baby. The best way to tell is nappy output, at least 6 very wet cloth nappies or at least 5 very wet disposable nappies in 24 hours.

Then your milk supply settles down.

Your boobs won’t leak forever. The internet told me they’d probably leak for around 8 weeks, mine didn’t stop for around 4 months. It’s different for everyone. Your supply eventually stabilises and you’ll produce the perfect amount for your baby. This can also lead to stopping breastfeeding prematurely as you don’t have that full feeling as often and might think your milk has dried up. There’s still plenty of milk in there, keep on boobin’.

Nursing clothes are super annoying in the beginning.

I bought a bunch of nursing clothes in anticipation for my baby and pretty much spent the first three months in only a crop top with nursing pads, if my boobs weren’t leaking all over the place the crop top would’ve been gone too. Trying to get that latch right is hard enough without having 700 layers in the way.

I went out to a cafe with my nursing cover, feeding top on and nursing bra underneath and noped the eff out. Sorry other diners but if you want discretion then don’t look because we need to see what we’re doing. I’ve discovered nursing clothes are a non essential item, if you can pull it down low enough it’s a feeding top. We’ve gotten the hang of the clothes now though and I think my baby could find the milk through three feet of water and bulletproof glass so they weren’t a total waste of money.

12 isn’t the magic number.

Pre baby me thought you breastfed till your baby was 12 months old, though that’s an awesome achievement the World Health Organisation recommends breastfeeding for the first 2 years and beyond if mother and baby are happy to continue. The thought of breastfed toddlers really disturbed me prior to having my own baby, I thought if the child was old to enough to ask for it then they’re too old. I was so stupid. Now I’m really hoping we make it to 2 and any longer is a total bonus, there are tonnes of nutritional benefits in breast milk for toddlers. I can understand how people are weirded out by it though, it’s not every day you see a giant child being breastfed but I’m hoping the world becomes a more accepting and more knowledgeable place for my daughter if she chooses to breastfeed her own children.

Informed is best.

I love this. Knowledge is totally power and it’s out there but you just need to find it. If you’re struggling with breastfeeding then the best place to get help is with an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant. There are some really great support groups too, my favourite is the Australian Breastfeeding Project Facebook group. I’ve learned heaps from those ladies and no question is too silly.

All this being said though breastfeeding isn’t for everyone, some people find it too difficult and some people just don’t want to for whatever reason. Weighing up the pros and cons and reaching the best solution for you and your family is the best advice I’ve heard. We all know breast is best but formula is a great substitute and every breastfeed is a successful breastfeed no matter what.

The Things You Don’t Expect to Cry Over as a New Mum

I honestly didn’t put much thought into beyond newbornhood, I’ve taken motherhood one step at a time from planning to have a baby to now so I didn’t realise how heartbroken I’d be by all of the changes. I pretty much wished away my entire pregnancy and now as the cliche goes I’m desperate for time to slow down but these are some of the more silly things that have felt brought a tear to my eye.

When your baby grows out of newborn size.

Some babies only stay in 0000 (or 00000) for a few days, others a few months. We got three weeks out of those tiny onesies and adorable leggings, the next size seemed enormous back at the start! How could milk alone grow such a giant baby?! As I packed them all away I shed a few tears but soothed myself by hoping I get to make another baby to wear them!

When your breastfed baby takes a bottle.

I fantasised a little about having a bath on my own and maybe a sneaky glass of wine.

I expressed some milk so my husband could bottle feed our baby. But she hated it! So we bought a different type of bottle and she wouldn’t take that either! I bought a bottle designed for breastfed babies and viola! We had a winner! But as my baby looked up into my husband’s eyes and drank I felt so sad! I knew it was my milk nurturing her but I felt so unneeded and in true mum fashion I didn’t have a bath OR drink wine OR even do anything for me! I put on a load of washing and tidied the house.

When your baby puts their dummy in by themselves.

First I was upset that we even used a dummy. I wanted to be the one who soothed her. But then when we were able to take a car trip without her getting upset I loved the dummy so you’d think I would be happy when she’s in the back seat and can pop her dummy back in rather than get upset because she doesn’t realise she hands that can do that. Weirdly not. It was another reason to feel unneeded.

Filling out the pregnancy journal.

My baby is five months old next week and I still haven’t filled out her birth details in my pregnancy journal. I wished my entire pregnancy away and couldn’t wait to finally meet my babe but once it was over I really mourned it. It felt like every day that passed was a day further from that moment I’d been dreaming of for so long. If you’re pregnant and you’re reading this please bask in it because while you’re feeling like a beached whale envious me with my baby I’m envious of you with your gorgeous bump and everything you’re about to experience.

When they fell asleep by themselves.

Most people obsess over baby sleep habits. Not me. I loved that my bub needed the safety and security of my arms and boobs to sleep. I felt like I was providing something she could only get from me we had the most incredible bond. When she fell asleep on the floor under her gym not only was I surprised and slightly relieved, I was also a bit lost. I’d just put on Netflix and was ready to settle in for an hour but I wasn’t required. I probably sound like I’m more dependent on her than she is with me… I probably am.

Pretty much every single milestone.

It’s so stupid but every milestone reached is so bittersweet for me! I read so many blogs that told me with your first baby you can’t wait to watch them learn new things and you’ll obsess over it. It’s definitely amazing to watch her learn but at the same time I feel less and less and depended on and she’s not even on solids yet! When she started rolling I couldn’t help but envision her getting a job and leaving home and I know it’s only going to get worse.

Stupid Things New Mums Feel Guilty About

Just had a baby? Congratulations! Pretty much every time you do something for yourself from now on you’re going to feel terrible about it! Yay!

Having a shower.

Did you know that we’re biologically wired to think we can hear our babies crying when our hearing is restricted? Too many times I’ve promptly exited the shower with one shaved leg and conditioner still in and sopped water all over the house to go and soothe my… PEACEFULLY SLEEPING BABY! This is nature’s way of ensuring that when you finally get two baby free minutes to care for yourself you won’t enjoy it. Now my bub sets up camp outside the shower on her playmat or in her rocker, the sound of the water soothes her so she’s usually happy to hang out in the bathroom with me. You might think dry shampoo is a valid excuse to skip showers and it is occasionally but babies have a keen sense of smell so do your little one a favour. You’ll feel better for it too! 

Going outside.

Leaving your little cocoon is pretty daunting with your brand new, fragile, germy stranger magnet. Everyone wants to get up close to touch and breathe all over your newborn. After you get home from the ordeal you’ll feel awful for exposing your delicate little human to the array of unsanitary baby prodders and you’ll vow to never go outside again! You’re allowed to tell people not to get too close but if you’re the worst at conflict like I am then a muslin blanket over the pram or baby wearing is a pretty good deterrent but mastering the art of the resting bitch face is the best for even the most serial personal space invaders. 

Not going outside.

You know the benefits of getting outside for some fresh air and sunshine but you can’t for the life of you remember the last time you ventured past the mailbox. Shame on you for missing out on all of that vitamin D goodness! Not really, it’s hard to get around the logistics of nap time and feeding. Start with short trips until you’re more comfortable and confident, you’ll soon get the hang of feeding and changing while you’re out and about. Don’t forget that resting bitch face either. 

Doing anything remotely convenient for yourself.

This is just the worst! Think putting your baby in front of the TV so you can take out the overflowing rubbish bin or ordering take away for dinner because you’re deep in leap territory and you’re a human dummy. Your baby won’t get square eyes from a bit of screen time (at least I hope not) and it’s not the end of the world if the boring end of the food pyramid doesn’t grace your plate every night. Looking after little people is hard work, do whatever you can to make it easier!

When you feel like you need a break.

Despite years of being able to poop alone, go out whenever you want and sleeping in just because, when you become a parent you feel as though you’re supposed to just embrace it all. It doesn’t mean you don’t love your baby when you come down with a serious case of the cbf’s. Some days are just hard work and reading the line up for your favourite festival or feeling sick and wanting to curl up all day can be enough to make you wish for even just a few minutes. You’re normal and this time will pass, your babe won’t always be so dependent.

When you can’t settle your crying baby.

Newborns pretty much only communicate with crying.

Dirty nappy? Crying.

Tired? Crying.

Upset by current affairs? Crying.

The list goes on and on. The first few weeks at home are pretty confronting, you’ve got a brand new baby who only speaks in cries and it’s up to you to decipher what they all mean. After a bit of practice and getting to know each other better you’ll learn your baby’s cues and what all of those different cries mean. You’re not a horrible person for not speaking newborn.

 

I could probably add about 100 things to this list without having to pick my brain (stay tuned for part 74!)

Don’t let the senseless guilt ruin this precious time, your baby isn’t going to love you any less or be mentally scarred just because 100% of your time isn’t spent focussed on them.

What stupid things do you feel guilt about? 

 

Being a Mum: Expectation VS Reality

Before I had a baby I imagined what my mum life would be like. I pictured a pristine home with a nutritious meal on the table every night and baby bathed and in bed by 8pm. HA! Now on a good day V might let me do the dishes or transfer the washing to the dryer (because what is a clothesline when you have a baby?) and a bad day (which is kind of awesome really) is me sleeping in with my bub while we watch The Bachelorette and I indulge in too much chocolate. I’m totally making the most of watching trash TV and eating snacks before she’s older.

Here’s a few reality checks I’ve made as a mum in training.

My fears and worries will melt away when I meet my baby. 

I couldn’t wait to finally hold my baby in my arms so I could see her breathing and hear her heartbeat.

Absolutely every new feeling freaked me out during my pregnancy, luckily my midwives were awesome and completely encouraged me to pop in if things didn’t feel right, to say I took advantage of that would be an understatement. I got my healthy baby in the end but I’m still freaked out about everything! I’m scared of SIDS and rare illnesses and the temperature and water and I’ve realised that I’m going to worry about everything forever. That’s ok though, it makes us careful and I’m learning not to let the worry steal our joy. I’ll do my best not to smother her with love.

I’ll have more time to clean.

HAHAHA!

Pre baby me must have sounded like a patronising idiot whilst speaking to mums! I worked full time before I had a baby, sometimes the drive made it a 13 hour day. It was pretty intense trying to find the time to do everything around the house so I assumed once my job was to mum and I was home all day I’d have plenty of time to do the house work. Then I learned that babies don’t really like being born, they want to be held ALL THE TIME. Even when they’re asleep. If you think they’re super asleep they’re not. If you put them down they know! This means that alot of time is spent cuddling while the mess accumulates around us. I just keep reminding myself that it’s not forever, one day she’ll hate my cuddles and the mess will be forgotten.

I’ll suddenly have my shit together.

Also laughable! My shit is the least together it’s ever been. I keep buying organisers and planners to give the impression but it’s not working! I still have no idea where I’ll be in 5 years time, I don’t even know what we’re having for dinner tonight and it’s 5pm! I’m just going to fake it till I make it.

I’ll miss my old life.

This one’s surprised me, there’s a bunch of negativity out there about parenthood. So many people told me how crappy everything will be once baby comes along but for some reason it will be worth it.

I LOVE being a mum! I know I’m only new at it but I wouldn’t change anything. I don’t miss going out, I don’t miss wasting time, I don’t even miss going to the bathroom by myself. We’re taking it day by day but I’ve loved every second of it and I’m going to cherish every day she thinks I’m the best.

I’ll be a terrible mum.

As my due date neared I really started freaking out, this was a human I was bringing into the world, it’s my responsibility to not turn her into a serial killer. That felt like way too much responsibility! Being allowed to leave the hospital with a baby was even scarier! Didn’t they know I had zero idea what I was doing?! But as we got to know each other I realised I’ve totally got this! I’ll rock this mum thing, I will also probably damage her a little bit because I’m strange but she’ll be ok. We’ll all be ok.

 

 

We’re you as naive as I was? How have your expectations changed since becoming a parent?

Embracing the Mum Bod

Pregnancy: 40 weeks of luscious hair, glowing skin and not having to suck it in.

People are drawn to a pregnant belly, there’s something so special about the whole thing.

But the postpartum period? Not so much.

First of all you have an adorable baby stealing your thunder, no one really cares about you anymore. Once that big round people magnet is gone you’re left with loose skin and if the stretch mark fairy was as generous to you as she was to me, strangers definitely don’t want to rub your belly (that’s more of a perk than anything but you can pick up what I’m putting down here).

Then your fabulous hair starts falling out and the dark under eye circles appear. Feeling like a Queen?

Somehow, with a great deal of positive affirmations… Yes!

I’m in absolute awe of what this weird looking body has created and the fact that it continues to nourish it’s creation. I probably sound like I think I’m the only person who’s ever given birth before but if you’ve ever pushed a human out or had one pulled out of your body you get what I’m saying. You grew a HUMAN!

I’ve killed every plant I’ve ever owned but my baby is thriving!

I’ll never sport crop tops again or be caught dead in a two piece but I can still love myself. I’ve swapped out going to the gym for planks during tummy time and 5k runs for strolls in the park. I may not look as strong as before but I feel stronger than ever. I AM stronger than ever.

I don’t always feel this way though, I catch a glimpse of my body in the mirror and the negativity creeps in. Although my hair will eventually grow back and someday I’ll get a full night’s sleep again I still wonder about this strange, bumpy body. Who do these weird, lop sided boobs belong to? It feels so foreign.

Will I ever feel normal again?

Probably.

Will I ever 100% love my body?

Probably not.

But that’s ok. I’m not alone but I kind of wish I was. We feel pressured to get our “bodies back,” it’s like there’s something wrong if you’re not back to your pre baby shape in a matter of weeks and that’s so wrong! You made a brand new human! Of course your body’s going to be a little bit NQR for a while but that’s no reason not to love it. My baby loves snuggling into my squishy mum tum, she’s the most important person in the world to me and she looks at me like I’m the greatest thing ever. How could I look at her and not love the body that grew her? I’m an effing Queen.

I’m fit and active and I can carry my growing baby all day long and not get sore. There’s nothing wrong with me.

We all need reminding of this sometimes, especially when we’re around that one friend who bounced right back to her pre baby body (these mythical creatures are the weird ones, not you!) Love yourself, Mama. If you can’t do it for you you can definitely do it for your babe. I want to set a good example for my daughter, I don’t want her to hear me saying negative things about myself, I want her to know that the airbrushed images on magazine covers aren’t the norm and that you can be healthy and beautiful even if you have scars and jiggly bits. I hope her generation celebrate what their bodies can do rather than how they look doing it because we’re so lucky; we make beautiful babies with our weird looking bodies.

 

Like the artwork in this post? It’s by the amazing Larine Statham-Blair, empowering mums everywhere to love the skin they’re in by turning postpartum bodies into beautiful works of art. You can find more of her work here

My Most Irrational New Mum Fears

Early in my pregnancy I was pretty excited about the fact that I’d have a mini person in the coming months, I was looking forward to the challenge and I’d been obsessing over it for so long.

Though as my due date approached shit started to feel more real.

What if I couldn’t hack it?

What if I didn’t really like being a mum?

What if everyone was lying when they said it’s different changing your own baby’s nappy?

I’m not generally a fearful person but keeping a baby alive is terrifying, there’s all the real stuff to worry about and then you still somehow find time to worry about all of this crap!

I’m going to do it all wrong

Bringing my tiny, fragile baby home was one of the scariest things that I’ve ever done. Once my husband’s paternity leave was up it was solely on me to keep her alive.

I thought I knew all the things before she was born but when I actually had to dress her and feed her and figure out why she was crying I realised I had no freaking clue. I had to be taught how to change a nappy during our hospital stay so I was pretty certain we were doomed. But we’re four months in now and we have zero incidents to report! I still fear I’m doing everything wrong, I’m scared that I’m going to turn her into Norman Bates because I smother her with love and she might be messed up because I don’t know the appropriate age to stop being naked around her but at this point as long as she’s fed, clean and loved that’s what counts. She’s four months old already and she hasn’t drawn any dead bodies and the neighbours pets haven’t disappeared so so far so good, right?

I won’t love her

I was especially mindful of this in the few minutes after she was born. I’d watched a zillion episodes of One Born Every Minute and cried at every single one so when I saw my own baby for the first time why was I so calm? My body had pretty much been through a cement mixer and then a giant baby tore out of it, I thought I’d be more emotional. But then we went to bed and when I woke up it got real! This was my baby. My heart felt like it was exploding and it still does.

The sleep deprivation will kill me

Weirdly after giving in to co sleeping on night two after settling her 87 times I’ve gotten more sleep than I did in my third trimester. I was never opposed to sharing my bed with my babe because I knew other mums that did it and bedsharing has it’s own set safe sleeping rules so I didn’t fight it but even my mum friends who aren’t co sleeping are somehow still alive!

I’ll have an ugly baby

Did I mention this article was about irrational fears?! After worrying about all the regular things I was shit scared my baby would look weird. Don’t act like you didn’t fear the same thing! Apparently we can’t even tell if our babies are ugly anyway, it’s some amazing biology thing or something.

I’ll never feel sexy again

Now this one is super irrational because I wasn’t exactly sexy to begin with! But you catch my drift? My body is super weird now, my stomach is all saggy and it looks like streaky bacon, I have weird lop sided boobs and I usually have one hairy leg because I’m basically the Usain Bolt of showers only I never finish the race. But weirdly I don’t care, I mean I’m not going to be rocking a bikini this Summer or probably any Summer but I feel like a baby nurturing Goddess and I don’t even have to take off my fluffy socks!

 

I have to remind myself sometimes that there are 8 zillion other things to worry about and then I have to remind myself again that there’s literally no point in worrying about anything unless I have a good reason. I’m just going to enjoy my probably cute baby and try not to sweat the small stuff. 

Shit People Say to New Mums

Navigating life as a new mum is a pretty eye opening experience. I imagined all the lovely things I’d be doing with my babe, there’s lots of lovely but I was quite unprepared for the anxiety that comes with it: Are my boobs sustaining her? Is poop meant to be this colour? Etc.

I needed all the advice I could get! What I didn’t realise was just how many experts are out there on my baby or how many people just say the most inconsiderate things!

Didn’t their mothers ever teach them that if they don’t have anything nice to say then don’t say anything at all?! And I’d like to add that if you don’t have anything of value to add then shut up! Here’s a recap of some of the shit people have said to me:

Is she a good baby?

Nope, she’s an underworld drug kingpin and last night she held up a liquor store. What exactly do you mean by good baby? Are you asking if sleeps all night? Cries alot? I don’t get this question. Of course she’s a good baby, I haven’t met a bad one yet. To which they reply with this:

Oh, you just wait till she’s older!

Why? Do you think I don’t know that babies grow into adult humans that make mistakes? I’m fairly sure I’ll face my fair share of parental challenges, I’d be naive to think she’ll always do everything right and even grow into the person I imagined. Stop insinuating that I don’t know what I’ve signed up for!

I lost my baby weight straight away.

Congratu-effing-lations would you like a medal? Are you pointing out the obvious fact that I’m still wearing maternity jeans three (four next week but I’m holding on as long as possible) months later? Or do you just really need me to compliment you? Isn’t it good for you that heaps of new mums carry a few extra kgs to make you feel better?!

I’m all for people being healthy and proud but don’t be a dick! Don’t say this to a new mum! You should know we have plenty of other anxieties before we even start to think about our mangled bodies!

Does she sleep through the night?

No, she’s actually a baby. I also don’t sleep through the night and not just because I have a baby.

Why is everyone so obsessed with baby sleep?! They aren’t supposed to sleep through the night but if yours does enjoy the extra shut eye, I’m totally ok with weekend sleep ins to catch more z’s.

You must feel like a cow!

Must I? Why? For feeding my baby the way nature intended? Like every other mammal?! I get that you’re just trying to be light-hearted and funny but can’t you compare me to something a little more glamorous than a cow?! The last thing I want to be called while a human is feeding from me and I’m in my maternity jeans because I’m still too fat for regular clothes and all the concealer in the world can’t make me look awake is a cow! I’m a chubby, sleep deprived lioness and I will hunt you down if you make me feel like anything less!

She’s just got wind.

If I had a dollar for every time I heard this… You’d think all the world’s problems could be solved with being held upright and a few pats on the back. It seems to be the number one cause of a crying AND smiling baby!

But seriously please give me my crying baby! She doesn’t have wind, she’s hungry and you don’t have the right equipment to solve that problem!

It honestly feels like people see it as a challenge to soothe a crying baby and it drives me insane! Then they get offended at your baby and give her back to which your baby is pleased so she gives you a little grin and you’re told “oh, I knew it must be wind! She’s much too young to be really smiling.” I HATE that! Tell me the last time you had a massive fart brewing and your go to reaction was to smile! I don’t care if it’s a real smile or not, just let me believe that it is!

I know nobody means any harm or disrespect, most of these things are just said automatically because EVERYONE says them! But new mums are some of the most confused, tired and anxious creatures wandering the planet, why is it just so completely normal for strangers to say things that would make a new mum question her ability? It can be hard not to dwell on things when you’re the first adult human she’s spoken to all day and you basically tell her she’s an overweight feeding machine who can’t tell why her baby is fussing. Tell her she’s doing an awesome job even if you do see her doting on her farting baby.

Mama,  you know your baby better than anyone and your doing great!

Do any of these ring true for you? What shit things have people said to you? 

Five Sanity Saving Tips For New Mums

One thing I learned right off the bat is that babies come with loads of needs, I thought they just pooped, ate and slept so I had these visions of nurturing my little babe, pretending to be from Real Housewives with my friends and being an amazing wife all at the same time. It’s really quite laughable now. Some days I’m lucky to have a shower or eat before noon.

I found it difficult to deal with not being able to do what I wanted when I wanted, I mean, I knew baby would be my top priority but I’ve never wanted to wash the dishes so badly in my entire life!

As we started getting into a bit of a routine I felt like I was kicking goals when I managed to keep the house tidy and eat hot food at normal, regular intervals but I started feeling desperate to be able to do something for myself. I felt like my new ‘mum’ title was consuming everything and I wanted to take back a bit of control.

These are the things that help to keep me relatively sane:

1. Get dressed as soon as you wake up.

I’m all for pyjamas as an alternative fashion choice, especially for a mum. The comfort factor is up there with leggings as pants! But personally, I found myself wearing my PJ’S all day long and turning down opportunities to catch up with my friends for coffee because I couldn’t find the time to get myself organised if I let the day get away.

So now as soon as I wake up (which is usually before my babe) I put on some clothes, fix my face and start doing the shitty tasks I most likely won’t succeed if I try to do them when babe is awake. Even if it’s all you achieve for the day at least you look pretty.

2. Keep a water bottle handy.

You get nice and comfy on the couch, nurse babe to sleep in your arms and then realise you left your water bottle in the next room. I do this. All. The . Time! I’d rather dislocate my shoulder than risk waking V up some days but breastfeeding leaves you so thirsty! I get that not everyone has a cuddly babe like mine, if I try to put her to sleep on her own she wakes up straight away and 9 times out of 10 she’ll be pissed that I thought I could  put my need for hydration above her need to be held constantly so I usually just make myself comfortable. I’ve combated this issue by having multiple drink bottles, I keep them in the three rooms I might find myself feeding in and one in the nappy bag incase I need to make a quick escape.  It’s been a game changer.

3. Make mum friends

Easier said than done I know, I was afraid the other mums could smell my fear too but hear me out.

My mum mafia rocks, we can all relate to each other and someone is usually down for a coffee date if we need to escape our four walls.

The first 10 weeks of motherhood was starting to feel pretty lonely, I have the best friends but they couldn’t always understand why I needed how ever many hours notice to be able to go and do stuff or why the activities I used to partake in had become a thing of the past (RIP to my fancy party and wine drinking days… For now.) I still love them dearly but they can’t relate to why I have spit up in my hair (or why I’m totally fine with it,) or that a nappy blow out isn’t the most disgusting thing in the world (it’s actually a normal part of life now.) Mum friends just get it. So when I was invited to mothers group and we had the courage to all go out for coffee it was the best life choice ever. Put yourself out there Mama, there are groups for mums to meet other mums everywhere and we’re all just as scared of you as you are of us.

4. Don’t forget about self care.

My mantra is ‘just because I have my husband in the ultimate trap (married with a baby) doesn’t mean I should let myself go.’ Not really! We have a great relationship built on trust and honesty, not traps! But still, you might think it’s not worth your time to do things for yourself when you’re busy with a new baby and the house is trashed but even just giving yourself a facial and painting your nails can make you feel like a million bucks sometimes. I have my things, I like getting my hair and brows done, it makes me feel (and look) human and it’s another way to have human contact outside the home. If you feel good about yourself you’ll feel good about your parenting choices too.

5. Have a creative outlet.

Just because you have a small human reliant on you for absolutely every need doesn’t mean your needs just disappear. A happy mum is a fulfilled mum.

I like to tell myself that being a mum is enough for me but the truth is it’s not, I’m content with not climbing the corporate ladder or having a large income but I still need to express myself! When I’m feeling down or scared I write (I also online shop and eat my feelings but they only leave me half as fulfilled.) Maybe you like to sing or dance or take your clothes off and paint your body, whatever, no judgement here, but whatever it is make sure it’s for you. It’s so easy to lose yourself in the monotony of everyday life. Nurturing your baby and watching them grow is extremely fulfilling but it’s so easy to be consumed by it but you can still be a rock star during nap time.

If you have any other tips on keeping it together comment below! 

How to Write a Birth Plan

Step one: Do your research

Step two: Write it down

Step three: Screw it up and throw it out the window.

But seriously, step one and two are kind of important. There are a tonne of different things to think about: home birth or hospital? Drug free or drugs? If so, which of the zillion to choose from? Which positions can help relieve the pain? Music in the background or silence? Who will be in the room? What is delayed chord clamping? Skin to skin straight away?

There are so many things! And while it’s great to be informed, labour is a bitch who does what she wants! I didn’t have a formal birth plan but I knew what I wanted to try in terms of pain relief and how I wanted to spend the first few moments of motherhood. I used the last few weeks of pregnancy to completely obsess every minor detail of how I expected labour to go. I watched pretty much all of One Born Every Minute, harassed my obstetrician for info and soaked everything up at antenatal classes. I felt pretty prepared for what was ahead of me so as my due date approached I was confident.

Que setback number one: induction. I had some minor problems early on in the pregnancy so my doctor didn’t want me to go past my due date. Being induced wasn’t the major setback, the baby’s heart rate would need to be monitored throughout but I already knew my hospital had a wireless, waterproof CTG machine so my fantasies of staying active and jumping in the bath for a bit of pain relief would become a reality. Only when I got to hospital the wireless machine was broken. Fuck. I was hooked up to that stupid machine for almost 15 excruciating hours. No walking the halls between contractions or the sweet relief of a warm bath filled with aromatherapy goodness.

But that’s ok because I still had breathing techniques I could try right? Pfft! I read so much about hypno birthing and breathing techniques, I wasn’t opposed to using pain relief drugs but I wanted to see how I coped without them. I wasn’t even in active labour when I was begging for gas! I’ve heard of these unicorn mama’s who can breathe their babies out, I even read an article about one woman who orgasm’d her baby out. No joke. I was three centimetres dilated, throwing up from the pain and no one was taking that gas away from me! I moved onto remifentanol later on when shit actually got real and slept between contractions pretty much until it came time to push. This is where setback two comes into play.

I didn’t want to deliver stuck on my back, I wanted gravity on my side to give me a hand but with two chords attached to my stomach to measure my contractions and Violet’s heart rate, a drip in one hand giving me oxytocin and a drip in the other hand pumping in that sweet, sweet remifentanol I was kind of stuck there, I think they even had a fetal scalp electrode up my hoo-ha for a while but I was in a drug/pain coma so I can’t be too sure. So I was stuck on my back like a beached whale trying to push this baby out, grunting like an injured warthog/sobbing like child and she just wasn’t coming out. So I got a super fun episiotomy despite all of the instructional videos I watched on pereneal massage.

Setback three! The chord was wrapped around her shoulder which is why she wasn’t coming out so it had to be cut before she was fully born. Goodbye all of the benefits of delayed chord clamping. But that’s ok because she’ll be placed straight onto my chest for skin to skin! Nope. She was born flat as they call it so I watched in horror as they took my floppy, purple baby over to the table to assess her, a few pumps of air and thankfully she was fine but it felt like the longest time. I got to stare lovingly into her new face and she was feeding like a pro within half an hour. I was completely traumatised afterwards over the whole thing, I had three things written in my birth plan, I thought I was super casual about it because I know things don’t always go according to plan but I only had three and not one of them worked out! But three months on I’m OK, I think back to that day and I remember it as fun! What the actual!

No matter what I had written down I still got what I wanted in the end, I have the healthiest, happiest most perfect little baby and I would do it over and over again if it meant I got her. So pretty much don’t be anal about your birth plan, don’t even think you’re not anal and be casual but then feel disappointed that it didn’t go to plan. Know your options but know they’re subject to change, don’t feel like a failure if you didn’t orgasm your baby out and you needed pain relief, don’t stress if your baby came out of the sunroof instead of completely destroying your vagina until the end of time. All births are different just like every baby and that’s what makes it so beautiful and horrifying and wonderful! 

You Don’t Have To Be The ‘Perfect Mum’ To Be The Perfect Mum

 

I live in an old house, I cook regular people meals and I suck at doing my makeup, some people can completely change what they look like and I can’t even conceal a pimple or even give the illusion that I got plenty of sleep last night.

It can be hard not to compare yourself to other people, especially once you become a mum. You want to give the impression that you’ve got your shit together and that you can step up to the challenge of teaching a defenceless little blob of pooping, crying, vomiting cuteness how to be a human while at the same time keep a home and even wash your hair every once in a while.

There’s so much parenting info out there it can be hard to find your feet when you have no idea what you’re doing. Then it’s fed to you online by beautiful people, beautiful people with multiple children who seem to have it all, they live in a beautiful home and they can cook like Nigella, they contour like a Kardashian and they push $3000 prams. Lucky them! But no one wants to show the monotonous side of their lives, I bet those mums drink their coffee cold too and take all their pretty photos in the 15 minute window that their house is clean. I bet they stand under the shower for an extra 90 seconds of freedom. I bet that’s yesterdays make up she’s wearing.

I’m still a mum in training, Violet is only 3 months old, she’s still extremely portable and she can’t sass me yet so maybe I’ve got it pretty easy at this stage but she still keeps me on my toes, or off them maybe because I’m always on my butt breastfeeding? Either way her needs dictate my schedule so I would sometimes feel disheartened when I looked through my feed and saw these beautiful, perfect, put together mums and I’m still trying to fold the washing from last week.

But I like the challenge of being a wife and a mum, I like that it’s not easy, if it was easy it would be boring and if there was such a thing as a perfect mum wouldn’t that be really boring too? How do you improve? What do you focus on? So I realised there’s no such thing as a ‘perfect mum’ , there’s amazing, inspirational mums who work their butts off to have things the way they are, that’s the kind of mum I want to be.

Since realising there are no perfect mums I’ve stopped beating myself up about all of the things I haven’t achieved in a day, some days rock and I’m like a super woman like last Thursday when I bought the entire weeks worth of groceries, baked cookies and even had lasagne on the table at 6pm! But then there’s days like today when I realised at 11am that I hadn’t eaten anything and last night’s dishes were still calling my name. But guess what? The baby is still alive! Not only is she still alive, she’s fed, clean, happy and so so so loved and she looks at me like I’m the most amazing thing on the face of the Earth! A day spent with my favourite learner human is a day well spent in my opinion and eventually she was open to the idea of letting me cook dinner.

I promise in 30 years when your tiny human is fully grown you won’t think about the state your house was in or the kind of pram that you used or even that one Thursday when you did a full grocery shop as amazing as it was. Soak it all up and eventually you’ll find your groove because you’re already your own family’s perfect mum.