Rock and roll mum, Fearne Cotton, recently confessed how much she needed every minute of her generous maternity leave first time round, such is the culture shock of motherhood.
Not only has your body been through the mill, you are on a huge exciting learning curve while pining for sleep, not to mention sometimes feeling a little lonely. Here's how to embrace the bits that hit like a sledgehammer no matter how prepared you thought you were...
Women having a planned caesarean section are likely to allow for a longer recovery time, but stitches after a vaginal birth can also leave you feeling less mobile than expected. It can feel sore sitting down for the first fortnight especially after an episiotomy. Haemorrhoids are also incredibly common, so eat plenty of fruit. Laxatives may relieve straining after both a C-section and ‘natural’ birth. While convalescing is an outdated concept, long walks with the pram are certainly not advisable in the first few weeks.
I’m yet to meet a new mum who hasn’t been shocked by how much broken sleep she is forced to manage on. The most seasoned night owls talk of ‘dark’ night feeds as your body is in constant demand, coupled with the stress of your partner going back to work. The best way to survive is to nap with your baby and accept help.
Love me tender
Weight gain and the time it takes to shift is not usually a big surprise for new mums, but other changes can be. Your breasts feeling rock hard to the touch as they fill with milk can be an alien experience, as can a stretched stomach flopping from side to side after birth. It takes time for everything to settle. Some changes are temporary and others bits will never be the same, but your scars are the souvenir of a miraculous achievement.
Invest in some secure breast pads as milk leakages through your clothes are common in the early weeks, especially if your baby starts to sleep for longer periods of time at night. Also talk to your midwife about postnatal bleeding and when it should end.
It’s strange how you can lose a morning during the first few months by just continually changing nappies. Your baby's bowel habits can be unpredictable and changing and maintaining good hygiene can take time especially if your little one has an unexpected wee. Simply embrace these times as key bonding moments to observe and to get to know each other better.
Even the most organised of mums struggle to reach appointments on time in the early days trying to predict when’s best to fit in a feed. You are simply not used to struggling with prams and carting so much luggage around. Aim for at least one outing per day after the first couple of weeks, but don’t be over ambitious.