Monday 4 May 2015

7 Maternity Advices I Would Give to Myself

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Her megawatt smile, flowy tresses, flawless make-up and pretty dresses as she waved graciously to the eager media camping outside the hospital looked very delightful.  All while perfectly balancing a newborn in her arms and having her doting prince charming of a husband by her side, in the recent case, just 10 hours after delivering her cute little girl.  As if born with a magical wand, she charmed her way through childbirth, making it seem like an effortless, painless and stylish process. Twice over.

If you haven't already guessed, I am talking about Kate Middleton.
As I've learnt, reality can be quite different when you aren't a Duchess and have no bevy of helpers to cater to your postnatal fancies. Throw in the fact that you have just relocated to a new country and are still unfamiliar with its healthcare protocol. You're also a first time mother-to-be with no access to help and support from immediate family and close friends who are thousands of miles away. That was me about three years ago. Fortunately, my husband had been such a great help throughout. The maternity and medical services where I lived were also nothing short of excellent. Like a premeditated plan, my then new neighbour next door was an experienced postnatal masseuse. Put all those together, I seemed to have my most basic maternity needs covered. Praises to God.

But still, if I could do it all over again and given my living arrangements, here's what I would advise myself to do:

1. Stay in the hospital for as long as you're allowed to 
As soon as I regained some strength from the rather long non-epidural natural labour the morning after, I asked the nurse when I could be discharged from the hospital. "Everything looks fine with you and baby. You can go home today, tomorrow or the day after... it's up to you, whenever you're ready," was her kind and reassuring reply. I chose to go home that afternoon, 12 hours after delivery. BIG MISTAKE. The avalanche of new responsibilities and demands of caring for a newborn start immediately when you get home. It left me with zilch opportunity to properly recover and rest from the major tiredness and pain of labour (of the birth kind).

2. Use all the available help and do not attempt to do everything on your own
I was offered help numerous times by the nurses in the ward. I didn't know what got into me when I decided to get up and shower all by myself, just 5 hours after delivering my baby, blood stained clothes notwithstanding. I saw stars and was lucky that I didn't pass out. Don't be a heroine. Get help.

3. Assign a maternity ward photographer
When you're battling a prolonged contraction and your husband is busy lending you his support because you have turned into an aggressive boxer (weird things happen in the maternity ward), taking selfies is the least of your and his concerns. Get a trusted someone to snap your significant moments, preferably discreetly too. You don't want a trigger happy paparazzi in the same room who will annoy and aggravate your pain. I am now living with regrets of not capturing my entire labour experience in photos and videos. You just can't rewind such moments once they're over.

4. Fly in a relative to provide care and support
I had underestimated the demands of becoming a new mother big time. I thought I could handle it together with my husband's help. Boy, was I wrong! As a new arrival without any close relations on site, I drained myself from the endless postnatal care, breastfeeding my newborn, domestic duties and lack of sleep. An extra pair of hands would have provided the relief I needed especially in the first couple of months.

5. Sleep, sleep, sleep!
By the grace of God, I had no problems with sleep neither did I suffer from any morning sickness nor complications throughout my pregnancy. I indulged in a lot of spiritual pursuits and reading, sometimes late into the night. Someone told me I should get all the sleep I could muster before baby came because it would be very elusive from then on. On hindsight, I should have listened to her.

6. Plan weekly meals and grocery shopping list
There are enough challenges with being a new mother, you wouldn't want the added burden of having to crack your head at what to make for lunch and dinner everyday. If eating store/restaurant bought food is not your thing compared to home cooked meals, it is best to plan your menu in advance and follow it. Better still, prepare meals in batches and freeze them for future use. Likewise for shopping list. Get it handy for your own reference or pass it to someone who could run the errand for you.

7. Get a haircut
It is true that a new haircut can do wonders to a person's mood and self-esteem. Do this just days before your due date. An easy-to-manage hairstyle will make life a little easier as you go about your new daily routine of feeding, changing diapers and everything that comes with motherhood. We might not have a royal prince for a husband or chic designer post maternity outfits like Kate does but we can at least add a feel-good factor to our own brand of motherhood - with a good haircut!

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