Welcome back to Meet the Parents, my weekly blog series where a blogger and parent shares their advice for first-time and expectant parents. This week we welcome Emma, who blogs at Even Angels Fall.
Tell me a bit about you, your blog and your family.
I live on the south coast with my soon to be husband and three kids aged 6, 4 and 4 months. As a mum of three, life can be fairly hectic. My escape is my blog Even Angels Fall, which I started back in September 2015. It’s a mix of parenting, beauty, food & fitness and general lifestyle and it’s a bit like a fourth child to me.
What one essential item would you insist on putting in your hospital bag (for you)?
Music. I know it doesn’t sound like an essential but it’s something I have used for each and every labour and I truly believe it helps to distract and soothe. I usually make up a CD in advance and have it play on a loop. Include some favourite tracks, some motivational ones (think Eye of the Tiger, I will survive etc.) and some relaxing ones.
Was there anything unexpected that happened during labour, that you think first-time mums should be prepared for?
Sometimes there isn’t enough time for the pain relief you plan for. I happen to love gas and air and pethidine and used both successfully in my first and second labours. With my third, things happened so fast that although I had gas and air, I wasn’t able to have pethidine despite begging for it, as things progressed so quickly. I later realised the gas canister wasn’t working either which meant I did it all with zero pain relief – ouch! But that’s ok, your body knows what to do, and you’ll be able to work with the pain to get your baby out. Prepare by all means, but remember that ultimately you can’t control labour, and everything will be ok.
What would be your one essential product for a newborn that no new parent should live without?
A bath/room thermometer. These things are brilliant for a quick way to check the bath water is not too hot, not too cold – just right for your newborn. They also double up to reassure you that your room is at the optimum temperature for baby at bedtime.
What’s the best piece of advice you were given before your first child was born?
That motherhood is the hardest but most rewarding job you will ever have. I had my first son when I was 21, and it meant maturing fairly fast but this advice stuck with me and despite the hard times, I enjoyed being a mum and learnt on the job a lot! I was also told not to be afraid to seek help if I was struggling, which is just what I did when I discovered I had postnatal depression when my baby was 3 months old.
Well done for seeking help when you needed it. I think it’s so important to admit when we’re struggling, as hard as it may feel to do so at the time.
What’s the worst piece of advice you were given?
To sleep when baby sleeps. Sometimes this is impossible, even with your first child. I definitely recommend getting as much sleep as possible, especially in those early days, and naps are essential for mental wellbeing, but sometimes it just isn’t feasible to sleep whenever baby does. Another one I love to hate is to make the most of the peace and stock up on sleep, you know the one that people always say to heavily pregnant first time mums… unfortunately sleep can’t be stockpiled and it just isn’t what you want to hear when you’re constantly uncomfortable in your own skin!
Yep, I had to pull out the ‘smile and nod’ a lot in response to that last piece of advice!
What would be your top tip for a first time parent-to-be?
Listen to your instincts but also heed the current healthcare advice. There will be so many people offering advice of what worked for them and their babies but ultimately you need to do what works for your baby, whilst listening to professional guidelines, which have been put in place for good reason.
Yes! It always amazes me when people say, ‘it wasn’t like that in my day and my child survived!’ Yes, that may be true and I’m pleased for you, but advice changes because research is happening all the time.
What’s the hardest thing about being a new parent?
The sleep deprivation, without a doubt. It’s so hard to adjust to, especially if like me you love your sleep, but remember that it will get better eventually. Nap as much as physically possible in the early days and don’t be afraid to *safely* bedshare if that’s what works for you all to get a good night’s sleep.
What’s the best thing about being a new parent?
The smiles and unconditional love you get from your baby/children make every hard part of parenthood worth it. And when they are old enough to tell you they love you it feels like your heart may burst.