Things that surprised me as a new parent

Things that surprised me as a new parent

Newborns come with many surprises. Some are sweet, some fill you with love, some are downright odd! I think discovering the lovely surprises on your own are a sweet treat of parenthood, so I won’t rob you of that experience. But the odd discoveries can be funny, so who wouldn’t want to hear about that ahead of time? Here are some of the little wonders that struck me when I had my baby:

  • You can lactate before the baby is born. Cuddling into my husband at 34 weeks pregnant, I started dripping on him.

  • You will express more milk from your breast if you’re looking at pictures of your baby while you are pumping! It seems like the equivalent of masturbating to porn. I’m not sure why this happens, something hormonal? But anecdotally it’s true.

  • My babies hands really stunk for the first couple of months. She held them closed in a fist constantly and she sucked on them for comfort and anytime she was ready for food. Even a bath couldn't get rid of the stench for long.

  • I now understand why there is a phrase “don’t forget to wash behind your ears.” If we didn’t wash behind her ears, and I mean really scrub deep into the crevasse where her ear attached to her head, she would get a crust build up.

  • Heaps of my hair fell out when my bub was about four months old. There is a normal seasonal process of hair fallout and regrowth. During pregnancy that process changes. There isn’t any hair fall out… until about four months after pregnancy ends.

  • You don’t get your period for ages if you’re breastfeeding. Hormones probably protect you from being impregnated again so soon. It varies between people. It took six months for me to get mine, but on average it can take over a year.

  • My bub occasionally screamed in her sleep. The first time, it was the most distressed cry I’d ever heard her make. It sounded like someone was strangling her. I ran in there because she sounded so distressed. But when I got in there, she was fast asleep, not crying.

  • I now talk about myself in the third person. I don’t really get why everyone does this. I don’t say “I’m coming” it’s changed to “Mummy’s coming.” I would never ever refer to myself in the third person before kids, so why is it such a natural thing that parents do? I always thought it was silly and never wanted to do it, but here I am talking about myself in the third person.

  • I’m definitely a “ma’am” now. I think there’s a gap in formal language for a young woman that doesn’t sound completely ridiculous. In a service setting there’s ma’am, girl or lady. Somehow none of these really suit a female who appears to be in her early 20s. I’ve always looked fairly young. It’s only been a few years since people stopped asking me for ID and I’m in my 30s. Once I had a baby though I went straight to ma’am status.

  • It surprises me how uninvolved some fathers are. We were out at a brunch with friends and their kids, and James (my husband) had talked about how he had cleaned out the nappy bag that morning. Yes, conversation with parents is just that riveting! Another father at the table laughed (obviously because James is really good at making boring things super entertaining). “You cleaned out the nappy bag?! Why? How would you even know what’s in the nappy bag? Name three things that are in there and one of them can’t be nappies.” This shocked me. He thought it would be so unusual for a father to know what was in the nappy bag that he was openly mocking James for caring for his child.

  • It surprised me how much my bub just wanted to be held. She always wanted to be with me. Any time she was awake she wanted to be in my arms. I can prepare the majority of a meal one handed now!

  • It surprised me how difficult I found it to get out on my own in the first year. I didn’t realise that breastfed babies won’t just take a bottle automatically. I didn’t realise that breastfeeding was as much about comfort as it was about gaining sustenance.

  • I hold my friends’ newborn babies and it seems so foreign. My own baby was that little not so long ago, but it seems so distant. I can’t really remember it properly.

These are just a few of the surprises in store for a new parent. They were things noteworthy to me. I hope they will help you on your journey through pregnancy, parenthood and beyond.

Article supplied by Sarah Dunham from What Do You Even Do With A Baby?.