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Advice for first-time mums?

102 replies

bananabeachhouse · 24/08/2020 15:39

Hi there, I'm wondering if anyone has advice for first-time mums regarding conception (or pre-conception), pregnancy, childbirth, child rearing etc etc. I'm not pregnant as of yet- will be probably trying to conceive in a year and a half to two years dependent on getting a house. I'll be quite a young mum and don't have any access to sisters / a mum of my own for support, so any advice is appreciated. Please try to keep it positive! Thank you! ☀️ x

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Sayitagainwhydontyou · 24/08/2020 19:50

@bananabeachhouse don't get too attached to the idea of pumping and freezing breastmilk btw, so many breastfed babies hate bottles. I had to pour away so much expressed milk. Heartbreaking.

In fact, that would be my top tip for parenthood. Do not get too attached to anything. Sleep schedules, feeding methods, philosophies, parenting techniques, anything.

And do not underestimate the impact of sleep deprivation. It will be the hardest year of your marriage.

bananabeachhouse · 24/08/2020 19:54

@Sayitagainwhydontyou I'm definitely not attached to the idea of pumping at all - one of the benefits of being a SAHM, I would always be around to breastfeed (though less of a benefit at 3am, I'm sure!). I've read some stuff about donating breast milk for premature babies, which is more the route I would go if I were producing more milk than was necessary, to be honest. But, I'm also not incredibly attached to the idea of breast feeding either - I do have a preference for it based on the health benefits & bonding, but if I couldn't produce enough or my child needed formula I wouldn't beat myself up about it.

As for sleep deprivation, I don't drink coffee but maybe I should start once the baby is born haha (obviously within regulation) xx

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firstimemamma · 24/08/2020 20:01

I don't have any family support either op and ds' dad works shifts including nights. I'm a sahm. I absolutely love it but it's very hard!

Also lots of parenting advice tends to conflict and it's easy to feel confused / overwhelmed by it all but u eventually just find your own way of doing things. Good luck.

Sayitagainwhydontyou · 24/08/2020 20:02

Pumping is exhausting and doesnt work for lots of women. A lot of what you're saying here seems very idealitic and frankly quite naive, i would really recommend spending time talking to women with small babies to get a proper picture of what it's like. You may have experienced "conventionally" harder things, but there is nothing that can prepare you for a baby like my third, who woke every hour for 7 months. I was hallucinating, my marriage almost broke down, it was hell. Babies are hard. If you don't have a support network, I'd focus on building one ASAP. You need friends, or you'll go mad.

bananabeachhouse · 24/08/2020 20:03

@firstimemamma Thanks so much for your advice! It's good to know someone in a similar-ish situation is coping, and that it's not all doom and gloom being a mum :) I know it'll be difficult, but I also know that some of the best things I've ever done have been the hardest!

Thank you for your support 🧡 xx

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bananabeachhouse · 24/08/2020 20:07

@Sayitagainwhydontyou I'm not basing my life around ideal expectations, I'm just actualising what I would like / what I think would be best and anything that diverts from that I will adjust to. I have a preference of breast feeding for example, but if I can't do that for whatever reason then I will make it work in other ways. I am aware babies pose unique challenges, which I will prepare for and support as much as any other mother would. I appreciate your advice, but if you could perhaps phrase it in a more positive / approachable way then it might be easier to really take on board everything you're saying (as I'm sure most of it is true and valuable advice). xx

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Sayitagainwhydontyou · 24/08/2020 20:23

See, i think actually putting a positive spin on things isn't very helpful- i know when i was a FTM i was astounded by how much people had sugarcoated it for me. I thought i knew it would be hard. I had no idea what that actually meant, and with zero sleep and a hellish recovery with several 3rd degree tears i remember asking my mum friends why no one had told me what it would really be like!

bananabeachhouse · 24/08/2020 20:35

@Sayitagainwhydontyou I've had a few threads surrounding this topic on Mumsnet previously, and people rarely ever sugarcoat things on here - in fact there's a lot of negativity & self-comparison (i.e. "X went wrong for me, so if you do it you're an idiot"). If you can offer unbiased or helpful advice then that would be great. Thank you. xx

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Sayitagainwhydontyou · 24/08/2020 20:42

Ive given you a lot of unbiased advice. You need a career, or a qualification. You need life insurance and a pension. You need a support network. You need to be in good mental health.

I would also really, really recommend just taking a few years to enjoy your marriage. At 17 you can't have been living together for more than ten minutes - take a little time to cherish your relationship, enjoy it, spend proper time together. You have so much time to have kids, leave it til you're 22 and just enjoy eachother outside of the drama and turmoil that has been your lives so far. Have five peaceful, complicated years of love and fun and companionship and then have a baby. Trust me, you will never regret dedicating that time to your marriage, especially because you're so young.

OnlyFoolsnMothers · 24/08/2020 20:49

I think the worrying thing OP is not you got married young (I was married at 19) or that you will be a young mum, I think the worry is it’s a little text book “no friends so you want a baby now”. Even the most well connected and sociable women will tell you having a baby made them feel alone.
I can tell you why i married young- my mother died when I was 8, my dad then became an alcoholic. Believe me many of us have had hard upbringings. I think the advice is not “don’t have a baby” but rather work on friendships and establishing yourself as an individual- not that of a wife or a product of your upbringing. Only then will your future be secure.
You say you want to get a degree- great, get one, then see how you feel about a baby. Don’t try and do everything at once.
But completely your life- just advice I assure you

bananabeachhouse · 24/08/2020 20:51

@Sayitagainwhydontyou We've been living together for about a year and a half. I will get a degree, I will be in good mental health. I will have a support network.

You make more assumptions than I think is fair. By the time we consider having a child, we will have been living together for nearly four years, married for most of that time. I'm not saying I am going to have a child now, I have some personal goals and things I need to do to stabilise my life before bringing a child into it.

I think it's reasonable to say that if you wouldn't tell this advice to a mother you deem an appropriate age, it would be considerate of you not to say it. I've heard all of the negativity and downsides and judgement surrounding my decisions, particularly through Mumsnet (which I have acknowledged and appropriately listened to) so please don't feel you need to school me in all the downsides. I'm doing my research, I accept that I can't fully know how difficult motherhood is until I've experienced it, but I also know I have a good amount of life experience behind me to support my decision making- feel free to disagree and call me young and naive if you'd like, but ultimately I would not be making decisions that I thought would damage my and my husband's life, or the life of my child / children.

I fully accept and am grateful that you feel an urge to warn me about the trials and tribulations of motherhood, but advice on the day-to-day experience of being a mum or pregnancy would be the best way of ensuring that I do end up being a good mum (and would probably be received slightly better) Thank you. xx

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Sayitagainwhydontyou · 24/08/2020 20:57

I think if you're recieving advice from all quarters, all recommending you wait, the mature thing to do would be to listen to it. I know it isn't what you want to hear. It wasnt what i wanted to hear at 17. I have been exactly where you are. But it is good advice.

bananabeachhouse · 24/08/2020 20:59


I think the worrying thing OP is not you got married young (I was married at 19) or that you will be a young mum, I think the worry is it’s a little text book “no friends so you want a baby now”. Even the most well connected and sociable women will tell you having a baby made them feel alone.
I can tell you why i married young- my mother died when I was 8, my dad then became an alcoholic. Believe me many of us have had hard upbringings. I think the advice is not “don’t have a baby” but rather work on friendships and establishing yourself as an individual- not that of a wife or a product of your upbringing. Only then will your future be secure.
You say you want to get a degree- great, get one, then see how you feel about a baby. Don’t try and do everything at once.
But completely your life- just advice I assure you

@OnlyFoolsnMothers I acknowledge the idea that young mums sometimes want babies for the affection they'd receive from them (particularly when they don't have friends) but there is a good element of my "lack of friends" situation that is down to me. I stopped intentionally making efforts with some old friends because they would have had a negative effect on my mental health and they led lives that wouldn't be sustainable for me- if I hadn't done this, I'm sure there would be even more Mumsnet messages saying I was an unsuitable mother because I kept these friends. I would much rather be alone (with my partner) than sustain unhealthy relationships because it gave the illusion that I was a more balanced person.

I didn't marry young due to my unfortunate childhood- in some subconscious level it probably played a part, but I also met someone who I knew shared similar values and who I would be able to sustain a relationship with for the rest of my life, providing I continued to put the effort in. I am an individual, I just also have additional commitments that matter to me (like my family life).

Thank you for offering your advice in a constructive way, I appreciate your effort. And I do acknowledge your points, please don't think I'm belittling them, I just want to try to give you a slightly more full depiction of where I am in life. xx
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plplz · 24/08/2020 20:59

OP, if you didn't want people to comment on your age, why put your age in? Seems like you want to goad people a bit.

You are not yet 18, I hope you feel differently soon and delay children to get a career and education sorted, because both of those will be VERY hard to get when you have a baby if you plan on only relying on yourself and partner. With my partner working while I'm on mat leave, I barely get to shower until DD's nap time. Let alone learn anything that isn't about babies.

I know you say your partner will help, but even if you're partner does 50% of the work, both of you are going to spend the first year 100% wrecked.

bananabeachhouse · 24/08/2020 21:03

@Sayitagainwhydontyou I agree, I am actively listening to everyone's perspective. If you don't think I should start a family, then I actively acknowledge that - I would be a fool to just rely on the image in my head and ignore the experiences of women who've lived it. All I'm suggesting is, if you can express all of the difficulties of motherhood in a constructive way then that would be great - an example of this being, "X was really difficult for me" without saying "X will be really difficult for you because you're Y and Z, and don't have the experience to make these choices". Not a quote obviously, just an example.

Thank you for your contribution. xx

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Letsallscreamatthesistene · 24/08/2020 21:05

Oh oh! Me again. Have a look at Nanny Louenna on Instagram. She also has an app. She was a Norland Nanny and has a lot of experience. She has a load of tips which would be good for you to read.

To all the people posting criticising OP. She might change her mind, she might not. Thats not the point of her post.

bananabeachhouse · 24/08/2020 21:08

@plplz My intention was not to goad people. If I had wanted to do that I would probably have had a flashier, more clickbait-y title. I mentioned it on the second page of this thread, as it related to the conversation but was by no means the sole factor that I was interested in people commenting on. However, if women (who have ideally been or known younger mothers) have any constructive advice then I would appreciate it. Thank you for your advice. xx

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bananabeachhouse · 24/08/2020 21:10

@Letsallscreamatthesistene Oh that's great! I don't actually have Instagram but I'm sure I'll figure out some way to view it. I'm really keen on any app or book recommendations too, if you have any more you like (to do with conception / pregnancy, or even just basic things like time management)

Thank you for your contribution, I appreciate it Flowers xx

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Letsallscreamatthesistene · 24/08/2020 21:15

Im pretty sure you can just type it into google and you can view her stuff without having to have an account.

For the app, you do have to pay but I think its worth it.

bananabeachhouse · 24/08/2020 21:18

@Letsallscreamatthesistene Some of the stuff on Instagram you can view, if it's recent but you can't click on anything (so you can just see a photo they posted, but not comments or any other attached photos). After a certain amount of scrolling photos, I think Instagram also prompts you to log in -- but I think as long as it's a public account, there are websites that let you access it freely.
I'll have a look at the app too, thanks for the tips! xx

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Graphista · 24/08/2020 22:19

I think you need to consider that a lot of us are speaking from experience - difficult childhoods (mine was also extremely abusive) mental illness, struggles with friendships, lack of support while pregnant/as a new mum...

Setting that aside though my advice would be:

Do ALL you can to get as physically and mentally healthy as you possibly can! This could involve several more years of therapy, physical training, overhauling your diet...

An unexpected thing I struggled with was giving up caffeine! I had no real idea how much I was consuming as it was very much habit, following my 2nd mc I did some research and learned that caffeine is really not good for pregnant women and at the very least consumption needs to be minimal. I quit cold turkey without fully appreciating how addicted I was and felt very very unwell and didn't know why! Thought I had flu or something. Luckily gp quickly recognised and advised to wean off slowly which I did and I've never gone back to that level of consumption because I never want to feel that lousy again!

There are also certain foods and food additives that aren't advisable during pregnancy, with my experiences I decided to cut those out of my diet as soon as I stopped taking the pill so about a month before actively ttc again, and again I very much noticed I felt pretty rough initially (and even with those items I was eating a much healthier diet than most at that point anyway which I think goes to show how we're eating stuff we don't even realise is bad for us)

It's also a really good idea to build up your stamina significantly - both for pregnancy and labour and the early years of parenting. I have a lot of experience with babies/children and was a nanny before having dd but definitely still wasn't fully prepared for sleep deprivation or the relentlessness of it all.

Build a support network - friends don't have to be people your age/background - some of my closest friends are much older/younger than me and from very different backgrounds, you'll meet a wide cross section of people at uni especially if you make an effort with the extra curricular stuff (which is generally very good for your cv too)

Learn all you can about baby and childcare - there's a lot of focus at the ttc stage on pregnancy and childbirth and it's very easy to forget there's actually an extra person to care for at the end of it all! I had my own "Ross from friends" moment around 7.5 months pregnant of "oh fuck! Ok I planned to conceive and I get what that means but I'm only just now 'getting' that means I'll be someone's mum and that someone will ALWAYS be there and I'm responsible for them!" I also had a "carol from friends" moment during labour where I was just plain knackered and had enough so just told the medical staff "nope not doing this today bye!" And actually started getting dressed and prepping to leave Grin

It's bloody hard work!

I have ocd which prior to dd was undx as I did a bloody good job at masking! Once I had dd it went seriously into overdrive, probably also fuelled by the mcs and a difficult (medically) pregnancy and birth plus dd was in scbu initially too.

I eventually disclosed to a hv and got some help, but not nearly enough and I now wish I had properly addressed it BEFORE becoming pregnant.

Finances - these need to be rock solid and as well set up for any eventuality as possible too. Being a sahm, even if married does make you more vulnerable and not just if the relationship breaks down. Which I have also experienced. But there's also the sad fact that unfortunately some men/husbands do become incapacitated/die young.

I've a friend who was a sahm to 2 girls with her husband self employed in a trade, he had an accident which meant he could no longer do the work AND he had no qualifications/experience to do work which wasn't manual labour. They had a very tough 10 years or so while he recovered, retrained, grieved the loss of the person he'd been and their change in circs and she felt forced back to work initially and he was a sahd for a while which he hated and it definitely had a negative impact on their marriage long term. They are still together (just) but it's been a really hard road and I've seen other relationships go through similar or even less difficult than they had it and it's not worked out for them.

You can't plan for everything but good life assurance and critical illness cover for you both is ideal. Also wills - including who you'd both like to have care of any children if you both were to pass - another situation I have known of happen where parents have died in a car accident, hadn't made a will and it was more complicated than necessary for the remaining family to agree who would have the dc and also how the estate would be managed regarding that.

Also discuss with your husband contingency planning for if you become incapacitated and unable to care for your child/ren.

Regarding whether husband will pull his weight - don't go on how he is on good days, what's he like when he's tired? Low level sick (cold, toothache etc) THAT is what will show you if he'll pull his weight when he's sleep deprived by an infant.

There's a lot to think about and consider so actually I think you're sensible to do so well ahead of ttc stage.

Graphista · 24/08/2020 22:20

Sorry meant to say - you'd be surprised what caffeine is in too! That's how I was consuming so much because it was in several things I hadn't even registered

bananabeachhouse · 24/08/2020 22:33

@Graphista Thank you, this is all such useful information!

Re; general health, I'm going to try and get much more fit and healthy starting probably next month. I don't drink coffee but I do drink sugary drinks, and I think I need to cut down on both my sugar and fat intake. I think as a baseline for exercise I'll probably start with something low effort like yoga or walking which I'll then build up to improve my stamina and shed a few unnecessary pounds.

I'm definitely keen to get some new friends- age doesn't matter much to me either younger or older, I'll just try and find a parenting group that seems hospitable and welcoming. I'm also trying not to focus all my attention on the TTC or labour aspects - obviously these are huge life changes that require the attention, but I also want to acknowledge the actuality of having a baby, a toddler, a child, a teenager and then subsequently an adult. Often I look through threads for all of these specific ages, so I can gauge my viewpoints on situations that I might not have otherwise thought of.

In reference to wills and the financial elements, I will definitely need to have some conversations with DH prior to the time. We are more-or-less financially stable (will be more in two or so years when TTC, as DH gets a yearly pay rise and we'll have saved up for a deposit but hopefully won't spend all of it). The will part is something to mull over, not entirely sure what would be the best situation if something did happen to us- thank you for mentioning this so I have more time to think it over.

In reference to DH, he's still pretty good even on his off days. He runs on very little sleep due to the constantly changing work schedule of his job, and (without giving too much away haha!) has to deal with drunk and otherwise aggressive people on a daily basis. Obviously sometimes he can get a little grumpy, but it's usually only for an hour or so and then he peps up. Similar to me, if I'm honest.

Thank you so much for your post, particularly the part about the wills as I may have overlooked that element thus far. I'm going to keep researching as much as I can prior to TTC, as I think it's important to be well-informed on all options even if a lot of it goes out the window once you have a child :) xx

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Hatscats · 24/08/2020 22:35

For me, I’d have travelled more in my 20’s (I’m fairly well travelled, but baby on the way has made me very aware my backpacking adventures are over for a bit!) save as much money as you can (also not done as I spent it travelling 😂) and I’d have found a company with good maternity package. I’m old at 35 though 😐

bananabeachhouse · 24/08/2020 22:37

@Hatscats Honestly, I don't fully get the whole travelling thing Grin! I've been to a good amount of places, with family / friends / DH but I find it mostly stressful to be honest haha! Maybe I'll have a calming beach holiday somewhere though :) And 35 isn't old at all. How are you feeling about having a baby? xx

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