Jasmine: With weeks before baby girl is born, I have decided to make a list to remind myself of all the things I learnt from giving birth the first time round. It is not all photoshoots and baby showers. Heh. (Andrew: Really – it isn’t?)
1. Expect to leave the hospital looking 6 months pregnant. It took 9 months for your uterus to expand to accommodate a baby, so 6 weeks for it to shrink back is actually considered pretty fast!
And I never understood why, but expect people to make mean comments about your post-partum figure. Someone said at the man yue that I “still looked six months pregnant” and three months after giving birth, someone else remarked that I still looked three months pregnant. It has never been ok to comment on a woman’s body, let alone a woman’s body after giving birth- those passing comments might not mean anything to you but post-partum women are VERY SENSITIVE. Keep your comments to yourself- the only acceptable comment is “You look great!”
(If you want, however, I recommend the Belly Bandit- after my jamu massage, I wore this daily and it (along with breastfeeding, this helped shrink the uterus back) helped to get my tummy back in shape. I suppose it will come in useful after buffets too, haha.
2. Expect a lot of blood. Incontinence sheets will save your bed linens.
3. Recovery is not easy. It could take 7-10 days for a normal delivery and up to a month for a C-section. I’ve seen superwomen up and about hours after giving birth; I am not one of them. I remember everything was painful- changing sides, getting up from the couch, and sitting? Oh my word.
4. Your milk doesn’t actually come in until Day 4, so don’t worry if baby is getting enough to eat or if he is crying a lot. Tune out those people who ask those questions, too. Until the milk comes in, the baby will be adequately nourished by the colostrum your body produces.
5. Baby is quietly alert in the first 60-75 min after birth. Ask the nurses to wait to wash and measure him. Put him to your breast immediately and enjoy the first precious hour of parent bonding.
6. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Being a new parent is life-changing and you will need time to adjust. Consult friends and Lactation Consultants for breastfeeding support- some LCs will pay you home visits for a fee. Hire a confinement nanny or ask your mum/ MIL to come to help out with baby so you can nap. If you don’t have a confinement nanny, stash lots of frozen foods or take up the offer of kind friends who are willing to cook or babysit.
Most importantly, your husband will be your best friend. He may have to help you with unglamorous tasks like taking the nanny marketing, or buying incontinence sheets, or exchanging maternity bras at the store. On Day 4, due to loss of pregnancy hormones, you may be inexplicably weepy- he will have to bear the brunt of it. Lean on him but also encourage him to gain confidence in taking care of baby by learning to change his diaper, bathe him, put him to sleep or even just carry him, and doing at least one of the abovementioned things for baby daily. Research shows that the messier and more unpleasant the task, the greater the bonding between caregiver and child… so delegate diaper duty to Daddy!
Andrew: Oh yes, I definitely do remember how awkward it was for me to accompany our confinement nanny to the market on Sunday morning – given that I have almost hardly ever stepped foot into a market, much less to do grocery shopping.
Well, for husbands, the attentiveness to your pregnant wife’s needs continues after she gives birth. You’ll be absorbed in quite a lot of admin duties like ensuring the birth cert is done, ensuring the house is well-stocked with necessary stuff for the confinement nanny, your wife and the baby, but do not neglect your wife’s emotional needs too at this point. Stand by her, support her, affirm her and be there for her when she needs you.
Am very thankful for the 5 days paternity leave that we have and my cousin even encouraged me to take another week of leave – just to be with her. Your wife will struggle with breast-feeding if she’s a new mum, so just be there next to her and don’t pressurise her in any way, but just encourage her that she’s doing well. The first few weeks when the new baby arrives is indeed an emotional roller-coaster of ups and downs, especially for the wife, and your role as a husband (as always) is to be your wife’s stability. Things do get better gradually! 🙂