This is it. 40 weeks. Nine months.
You did it and very soon you’ll be a mum. Mama. Mummy. Mam. Mom. Whatever you call yourself, you did a brilliant job of growing your baby for the last 40 weeks. If this is your first baby, your life is about to change - you’re about to go on the craziest, most wonderful journey. And that starts with labour and birth.
Have you had a few niggly contractions? Backache getting worse? Feel like your baby could drop out any second? You could be in labour! Read What are the signs I’m in labour?
What does my baby look like?
You now have a full-term baby. The average baby weighs just over 3kg (or 7 and a half pounds) and around 50cms.
But your baby could be smaller or bigger than this - there is no ‘right’ birthweight or length. Most babies lose weight in the days after they’re born but your midwife will keep an eye on this as gaining weight is a sign they’re feeding well.
Becoming a mum
In the next few hours or days, you’ll become a mum and your life will change. People are always keen to share horror stories about terrible labours and awful sleepless months. Yes, there are some tricky bits but parenting is a wonderful journey with highs and lows and hundreds of moments that will take your breath away and leave you crying with laughter. The best bit is you don’t have to do it alone, whether you lean on your partner, family, friends, online community or newly found mum friends there is support out there.
Here are our top tips for becoming a mum:
Forget the guilt - one of the delights (not) of becoming a mum is you feel constantly guilty. Have you fed them too much or too little? Should you pick them up or put them down. Should they be in childcare or at home with you? And on and on. But this kind of thinking, along with the *cough* ‘helpful’ advice everyone has to offer, just tends to make you feel anxious and cloud your thinking. Instead, trust your instincts, do what works for your family and listen to the advice of people you trust (plus healthcare professionals).
Self-care matters - the old advice goes ‘sleep when baby sleeps’ which isn’t that practical if your baby drops off and you turn around to a mountain of washing and cleaning. Yes, stuff has to get done but one of those jobs should be you. You need taking care of too. However you do that, a bath, a run, a massage, a walk alone for 15 minutes, a night away - it’s what you need to function. You can only give what you have.
Get out of the house - it doesn’t matter if you’re in milk stained joggers with bird’s nest hair. Stick your baby in their pram or sling and get walking. Even better meet up with another mum and share exploding nappy stories. Knowing someone gets where you’re at is a massive relief.
Breastfeeding - in an ideal world we’d all breastfeed but if it’s not practical or doable then the world won’t end. There is breastfeeding support out there (ask your midwife or health visitor) but don’t beat yourself up if it doesn’t work out.
This too shall pass - it’s easy to get overwhelmed and feel like the endless nights and non-stop feeding will go on forever. They don’t. Babies go through phases and each one passes in a matter of weeks. Sometimes you have to grit your teeth through the tough days but don’t forget to embrace the good ones too.
If you’re a new mum then come and join our community of 70,000 mums who know just what you’re going through.