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One mom shares her experiences, joys and fears about birthing her first baby.

The night this writer’s first baby decided it was time to make their appearance unleashed a torrent of mixed emotions.

My life was about to change forever

The night my water broke, I stood outside at the back door looking up at a star-studded sky, aware that my life was about to change forever. I longed for a village of elders to whisper words of advice and then silently retreat. Looking back, had they been there, they would have told me that breast-feeding is not easy. Fail to get it right and your nipples will crack open and fissures will appear the size of canyons. They would have sung the praises of lashings of lanolin cream to protect those precious nipples. They would have left   piles of chilled cabbage leaves by my side to ward off the heat of milk engorged breasts. “Don’t worry too much,” they would have advised. “Not a lot can go truly wrong at this point. Sleep when he sleeps. Get out as much as you can. Go for long walks with him in the pram. Relish every second with this tiny human being… it passes so quickly.”

Read our articles on the great expectations of becoming a first-time mother and how to prepare for baby’s birth.

Wisdom comes from hindsight

Apparently, reading or watching a movie while breast-feeding may result in less bonding time with your baby. Were I to do it again I would shrug off such nonsense and use the quiet times when breast-feeding seemed to be taking forever to read more gripping novels and catch up on world news and interesting research. Georgia, mother of two young children, wishes someone had told her to read as many books as possible over 300 pages long that require a modicum of concentration. She has not, however, lost all hope. “I am told that this skill may return when my youngest turns five.” Sticking firmly to literature, Georgia suggests mothers-to-be should remember they are having a child, not taking an exam. “You don’t have to read every book in the universe and attend every antenatal class. Your child will still stick with you. In fact, ditch the baby books and read War and Peace.”

Sage advice

Ingrid, mother of one with another on the way, has sage advice for when you feel beloved relatives closing in on you with all the best intentions at heart. You need to let go and let them help, she says. Some issues are, of course, easier than others, so it might be prudent to choose your battles wisely. Ingrid recounts her resistance to a new household appliance: “If your mother thinks you need a tumble drier and you really don’t think you do, but she’s not letting it go, let her buy it for you.”

When Ingrid was a mother-to-be she was constantly told by other parents how hard it was going to be. She became tired of the ominous warnings and resolved not to waste such negative advice on another mother-to-be in the family, who in turn was furious with her after the fact as no-one had told her about the tough bits. Ingrid has since resolved to tell people that while it can be tough, it is wonderful.

And that is just what it is – truly and utterly wonderful, mixed up with a bit of sleep deprivation, hormonal changes, self-doubt, confusion and exhaustion – sometimes in equal measures and sometimes not. But wonderful wins hands down in the end.

Donna Cobban