1 – Thou shall tell people you are pregnant only after the 12-week scan and in the ‘safe’ zone. For telling them early will just make them feel awkward if you suffer the devastation of a miscarriage, even if you need all the help and support you can get when you feel like your heart has literally broken.
2 – Thou shall not use modern medicine to alleviate the pain of childbirth. It should be a natural process, where your child slides forth into this world with the ease of a vaseline smeared eel. Having a c section is the easy way out, where your stomach is easily severed then easily sewed back together and then you are told to ‘take it easy‘ for the following six weeks. With a newborn.
3 – Thou shall not use formula or bottles to feed your baby. It doesn’t matter if it is physically impossible for you to breastfeed, if you want to share the load with the provider of the other half of your child’s DNA, or simply if you decide you don’t want to. Breast is best. Unless you’re in public when you must breastfeed discreetly under a tent or in a toilet for fear of offending others by allowing them to glimpse your nipple.
4 – Remember to put your baby down drowsy, but not asleep, after a feed, but not relying on food to help them sleep, in a Moses basket, after skin to skin, in their own room, next to you to encourage bonding, swaddled, without a dummy, for no more than three hours and as long as they need. Naps are basically a chore and sleeping through the night is technically five hours, because that’s a perfectly acceptable amount of sleep for a hormonal exhausted adult. Sleep will form the basis of 75% of your conversations along with the contents of your child’s nappy (colour of, consistency, frequency of changes) and milk/ food consumption, or lack thereof.
5 – Honour the code that all mums should not share their struggles because they are lucky to be mums. Remember how much you wanted this baby, how long you tried for, how you have seen friends go through the agony of trying and failing to get pregnant, how everyone goes through this and how your struggle is no worse than others. Suck it up. Even if it feels like everything is slipping away and you don’t know how to look after yourself whilst looking after this brand new human you created and love more than you ever thought possible.
6 – Thou shall not use pre-prepared baby food to wean your baby but spend hour upon hour making purees that they will smear over every part of them and the furniture but not ingest. All books on baby led weaning should be devoured, unlike the cucumber, cream cheese sandwiches and banana painstakingly prepared and presented to your wilful bundle of joy. Fruit pouches will become a Godsend and will ignite equal feelings of satisfaction (that your child is eating) and guilt (that it’s a vacuum-packed pouch).
7 – Thou shall not go back to work after maternity leave ceases, but shall stay at home and care for your child 24/7. Unless your career is in any way important to you, and then you must find the best childcare possible, and spend all your salary securing it and all your time worrying about whether it’s good enough.
8 – Thou shall not wait to have another child, but ‘try’ as soon as possible to take advantage of increased fertility and because you haven’t slept for six months and so can’t make a rational decision. If you do choose to wait, make sure it’s the perfect amount of time to avoid sibling jealousy, to enable you to reuse the five thousand items of vital baby equipment stored in the shed. You will forget that planning your second baby is nigh on impossible and answer the frequently asked question of “when” with a blank stare whilst screaming inside, trying to hold it together.
9 – Thou shall not let your child watch TV or a tablet, but only give them brightly coloured safe toys that occupy but do not overstimulate. Encourage independent play and ensure their safety at all times without helicopter parenting. Teach them the alphabet, how to draw a picture of a sun and how to count to ten before their first birthday, but also let them be a baby and lead with free-form play.
10 – And most importantly of all, Thou shall not give any credence to any of the above and just do what works for you.
Mums. We are damned if we do and damned if we don’t. So just don’t give a damn. Keep doing what you do. You’re awesome.