When you have newly delivered and are a little lost because nothing you read or heard has fully prepared you for what really happens; you run to Google with your specific questions. And half the time – if you are residing in India – the answers don’t do you any good. Here is my Indian list of 10 things no one told me before I delivered.
1. Carry loads of nappies (langots) and baby clothes to the hospital in your hospital bag.
We had done a very elaborate post on the contents of the hospital bag. And I had made mine with rather too much care. And all those ladies around me at that time were wondering ‘she has lost it!’. But they were all so wrong when all those things I carried came to use and there were many more things that I needed that they had to rush to bring. And to add to it – the age-old custom of not buying any baby products before the delivery – I think it really needs modification at this point. Please do carry a lot of clothes for your baby, a few rags (will come handy for lot of stuff), swaddle cloths and some loose clothes for yourself. And don’t forget to carry some pain relief balm – your lower back or shoulder or head might hurt really bad and you will need it handy!
2. First few days after delivery you are going to feel like a mother cow.
My baby fed for hours at a stretch. And this really no one prepared me for. I remember messaging a friend in panic at almost 3 AM in the morning asking her if it was normal that the baby is just going on feeding for almost five hours. And guess what – she immediately replied. Because she was also feeding her 10 month old at that time. So it is something that is going to shock you in the beginning and within a few days you are going to be very used to it.
3. Formula Milk v/s Breast feeding – Of course, breast-feeding wins!
One always knows that one is going to be breastfeeding the baby! But one doesn’t always know about the worldwide debate of Formula Milk v/s Breast Milk. Though I was going with the flow and my milk flow was also good – but ‘exclusive breastfeeding’ and all its benefits I discovered much later. And now I am a big promoter of Exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months. So don’t give up too soon if your milk flow is not in tandem with the baby’s requirement. You will get there sooner or later – just take care that you don’t give up mid way.
4. WhatsApp Groups for New Mothers
This one for me was God sent! A friend of mine added me into a WhatsApp group run by Dr. Mugdha Joshi who also has her Facebook page @health4urchild. Trust me, I could be half the self-assured mother that I was only because of this group. There are fellow mothers and pediatricians, who are all sailing on similar boats, sharing their opinions and experiences; helping you make your own better! I would say one should join before delivery and ask all your doubts beforehand. People are really sensitive and helpful.
5. When to start the massage of the baby? And even more important – when to start your massage?
This one is quite tricky and very subjective. Each baby is different and so is their state when they are born. The family is going to push you to start the massage asap and the doctors are never going to advocate a massage to the baby so soon. So what do you do? Can’t say much – all you can do is be vigilant when the maalishwali aunty is doing her thing and be clear about how you want her to handle your child. Dont let her do all those stunts but don’t completely discard all that she has to say also – because in my experience, few of them are really aware and right about what they are saying. And then coming to you – DO GET A MASSAGE DONE! Normal delivery or C-Section, doesn’t really matter! They will never press hard around the stitches – so don’t let any one tell you that you can’t or shouldn’t get a massage done because you had a C-section. Mentally you are going to need this massage more than anything else – to keep you going!
6. Jaundice in new-born is quite common.
Yes, you read that right. Your child is going to be very susceptible to jaundice. And the two precautionary actions you can take are: breast-feeding and sun bathing!
7. There is a lot more in the market beyond Johnson n Johnson.
Every era has its favorites in every category. There was a time when no one had heard of any baby products beyond Johnson n Johnson. But now there is a huge variety of the stuff you get. And their prices also hugely vary. So do some market research in the last month of your pregnancy and chose your brand.
8. Co-sleeping is a key to a longer run of manageable nights.
One has always thought of babies sleeping in the crib – that visual is embedded in the head. But only when I had mine did I realise that putting the baby in the crib at night needs both effort and courage. Effort, because the baby is going to feed a LOT of times and each time you walk up to the crib, take her out, bring her to the bed, feed, then put her back – you wont have that much patience and energy! And courage because when you read about SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) and how common it is – you are shit scared. You are almost always checking the sleeping baby whether it is breathing or no. I just couldn’t let my baby sleep away from me for even an hour at night. But now, after so many months – I realised co-sleeping on the same bed is actually a lot more convenient a few weeks later. Bonding is better, feeding is not a hassle anymore and kisses and hugs serve as big bonus that fill your heart with so much joy!!
9. Post-Partum Depression is a reality! And more common than reported!
If you are a modern, even remotely feminist, ambitious woman – who is used to living her life on her own terms – you are going to be more prone to post-partum depression. The way ‘Nature’ functions and the role a female is supposed to play in raising a child – there is certainly more to give and more to give up for a woman. And if you are used to a certain type of busy and happening life – suddenly to be confined to a room, constantly nursing the child, putting all your energy into just taking care of the needs of the baby – sooner or later, take a toll on you. One has to be aware that winning over the mind’s foolishness (accentuated thanks to the hormones) at this point is almost impossible. One just needs to be more aware and more open to accepting your own thoughts and not judging your own self. You will heal faster if you be a little less critical of your own self.
10. Lastly, no one told me life was going to change forever.
Sometimes when I look back, I wonder if I ever really understood how drastic a step this is – that how a pregnancy is not just a pregnancy but it leads to a child – and that child changes your whole life altogether. And it is such a permanent change that you are at times feeling, “Shit! I am never going to get back to being who I was before!!” But no one even told me what it really feels when your child smiles at you or hugs you in her sleep – that there is this one chance of experiencing divine bliss and that is through motherhood.