1. The weird things your body’s doing now are just the tip of the iceberg
Of course, when you’re pregnant, you expect to grow a great big beautiful bump, but the other twists and turns of your body can come as more of a shock. Body hair does strange things (thicker in places, thinner in others), the hair on your head does even stranger things (mainly shedding massively and alarmingly in the early months of motherhood. Don’t panic, it grows back!), you might get freckles for the first time, your feet could go up a size – and stay there – and your bladder control will leave a lot to be desired for quite some time (PELVIC FLOOR REMINDER!), along with your mystical milk-making boobs and your magical elastic tummy. Remember, you are a thing of wonder and don’t let anyone make you feel otherwise.
2. You will buy seven buggies and five car seats (approx)
During pregnancy you’ll obsess over picking the right, eye-wateringly expensive pram – sorry, “travel system” – which will last your precious firstborn for years, can glide smoothly along urban roads and woody trails and exotic beaches and has multiple recline functions, as well as being compatible with your similarly eye-wateringly expensive, state of the art car seat.
Spoiler alert: once your baby is getting on for a year or thereabouts, you’ll find this lovingly chosen contraption a bit cumbersome and trade it in for a bog-standard, more acceptably priced buggy, plus an even more lightweight stroller for nursery runs/holidays, maybe a double further down the line, and then wonder why you wasted all those hours (days… weeks…) of research on something that was mostly just good for the newborn days. But all that research is a good distraction and feels like a way of getting control over the craziest thing that’s ever happened to you, so go with it, bank balance permitting.
3. Late-pregnancy heartburn is just as bad as early-pregnancy morning sickness
Just like not everyone gets morning sickness, not everyone gets heartburn. Or, at least, not severe heartburn that puts you right off your takeaway. But warning, it can be just as debilitating, especially since one of the perks of pregnancy is supposedly being able to eat lots of food, and all of a sudden lots of food is the last thing your stupid burning gullet can handle.
The one plus side is that, by the point that heartburn likely kicks in, everyone knows you’re pregnant anyway, so you can luxuriate in moaning about it, rather than having to pretend to be hungover all the time like you did in the early days of feeling like death in the office loos.
4. It doesn’t matter how you give birth
Like all that buggy research, writing a birth plan is really just a way of making you feel like you have some control. Of course, it’s good to have your preferences noted down, but no matter what happens on the day itself, when you hold your baby in your arms for the first time, you won’t be too bothered by what’s gone before. Nobody will be rating how hard-ass you are out of ten or judging you if you go off piste from your plans of a drug-free candelit water birth featuring live dolphins.
5. The well-meaning advice never goes away
From the minute you announce your pregnancy, friends, family and random supermarket employees will proffer words of so-called wisdom. “You’re definitely carrying a boy/girl/baby” is where it begins – and it never ends. When it comes to the way you care for and raise your kids, everyone has an opinion – even people who’ve never had kids themselves. Feeding methods, sleep, eating, discipline, school choices, university choices, dummies, how far from the kerb you stand with your buggy when crossing the road… and so it goes. Just smile politely and remember: you know your child better than anyone. Especially when it is still living inside your body.
6. There’s no point in worrying about sleep
Your baby might be a good sleeper, they might be a terrible sleeper; it’s mainly a luck of the draw situation, but the best (but, possibly, hardest) thing you can do is try not to fret about it and realise that sleep goes up and down throughout the early years, based on all manner of factors, and not your ability as a parent.
Your life is about to change, big time, but you’ll be so in love with your new arrival that you won’t mind how knackered you are, as long as you’re kind to yourself (by which we mean: biscuits). You’ll get used to your new routine (or lack of) and time with a newborn goes so fast that before you know it they’ll be 14 and refusing to get out of bed before midday. This is the time to put Steve Wright’s Sunday Love Songs on top volume and throw in a bit of lawnmowing for good measure.
7. You will try all sorts of ways to bring on labour
Pineapples. Sex. Curries. Bouncing on a ball. Possibly all four of those at the same time. These are all absolutely fine (some of them are even quite pleasant. Arguably) and a good way of killing time while waiting for nature to take its course.
It turns out, though, that the only scientifically proven way to induce labour is nipple stimulation. If, and only if, you’re full term, the oxytocin released can cause contractions. But it might take a while, so maybe have one eye on Netflix while you or your dedicated nipple-twiddler is at it.
8. You really, really need mum friends
You might think “I’ve got loads of mates!” but unless your bezzies all live under 10 minutes from you and are all due to give birth at exactly the same, you’ll need some new mum friends too, for early morning park circuits, poo banter, emergency wines and emergency whines.
It’s hard to understand the value of finding people in exactly the same boat until you’re right in the thick of it, but whenever you need a friend, remember, Mush is full of likeminded mums with kids the same age.