October 2016.

What are the surprises of becoming a parent for the first time?

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You’ve read all the books, been to the classes and spoken to others on online forums. But nothing can prepare you for parenthood like the real thing.

You’ll discover what sleep deprivation really means. With new babies often needing to be fed 2-3 times per night, and breast or bottle feeding taking around 45 minutes a time, you will be introduced to a whole new world of sleep deprivation. Whilst you may have experienced tiredness in the past, nothing compares to the sinking feeling as you drag your body out of bed for the fourth time that night. Be prepared to nod off on the sofa, or experience visual disturbances and memory problems in the first few months.

You’ll toughen up. Does the idea of being covered with excrement or vomit send you scurrying to the shower? Somehow parents have an immunity to the ‘yuck’ factor when it comes to their own child’s secretions. Whether it’s due to their frequency or simply the fact that everything baby does seems adorable at first, you’ll find yourself shrugging your shoulders at a bit of mucus on your jumper, or a trail of vomit down your arm.

You’ll discover baby wipes. As well as wiping baby’s bum, these wipes can be used for household chores, cleaning swings in the park, or makeup removal. You will always have a pack to hand.

You won’t care about your weight. Convinced you’ll be heading down the gym as soon as you’re able? Many mums worry about pregnancy weight gain. However, the realities of dealing with – and loving - a baby mean that a bit of a muffin top will seem far less important, and cuddling your new-born will beat pounding tarmac any day.

You’ll doubt yourself. However clued up you feel beforehand you’ll experience moments of doubt. Am I doing it right? Is s/he drinking enough? Should s/he be sleeping through? Remember, it’s normal to feel a bit out of your depth, and most mums and dads feel this way at first. Ask your midwife or a good friend for advice, do your best, but try not to sweat the small stuff.

You’ll become obsessed. You know the annoying parents who post pictures of their kids on Facebook, or comment continually about their little one’s tiny achievements? Believe it or not, you’ll find yourself doing exactly the same.

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