Annie Ridouts Guestlist: A Letter to My Future Pregnant Self.



Annie ‘working’ her bump.


This is something new. A list and a letter in one. Like it. Memory is so selective isn’t it? I look back on my pregnancies with misty-eyed affection. A time that my liver was rejuvenated, my hair didn’t fall out and for the only time in my life my stomach was rock hard.

This list from Annie (AKA the Editor of The Early Hour) is a great reminder of the reality:

Dear Annie,

You’re reading this because you’re pregnant again. For the third time. After your first pregnancy, you conveniently forgot everything about how you felt during and after the event. You forgot what labour and childbirth were like (perhaps necessarily so) and about the early days.

Every pregnancy is different, so take all this with a pinch of salt, but your first two pregnancies, births and fourth trimesters were fairly similar so the likelihood is that this one will be, too. This letter is designed to reassure you – but without lying/rose tinting…

  • You’ll probably experience morning sickness for most – if not all – of your pregnancy. There is no cure (you’ve already tried everything). It’s pretty damn tiring but it will pass… by 40 weeks, tops. You’ll survive. Keep cleaning your teeth 20 times a day and eating only carbs. Vegetables can wait.

  • In the early days of pregnancy, you may well feel a bit fat and bloated and not very pregnant. Try not to worry too much. Who cares if your neighbours think you’re letting yourself go? The pregnancy cat will soon be out of the bag and the gossiping will cease (well, until the postpartum period when you continue to look pregnant a month after giving birth).

  • Towards the end of pregnancy you’ll be DESPERATE to release the beast (as in: the baby. But you will also be extremely constipated by now). You’ll consider induction and elective c-section – avoid both unless medically advised. The baby will emerge at some stage.

  • That said, your last baby was induced just before your due date because he was tonks – this one probably will be too.

  • While waiting for labour/to be induced, you’ll spend an inordinate amount of time googling natural induction. To save you some time, this is what you’ll find: pineapple, sex, running (WTF?), walking (more likely), curry, acupuncture, reflexology, nipple stimulation. None of it will work.

  • You’ll also be searching high and low for ‘signs of early labour’. Don’t bother asking anyone/googling. You’ll know when you’re in labour. Your waters will break or contractions will come on strong – and you’ll definitely know the difference between Braxton hicks and contractions.

  • Everyone will advise you to sleep and rest up before labour. You won’t be able to because 1. You already have two children to look after and 2. Pregnancy and good sleep are not friends. It’s one or the other. But if you have an epidural during labour, this will be the best sleep you’ve had – and will have – for a long while.

  • Have an epidural if you’re induced. Have one even if you’re not. You needed it the last two times; you’ll almost certainly need it again this time. It’s nothing to be ashamed of – it’s the best drug in the world.

  • Don’t panic – your birth won’t come on so quickly that you give birth in the back of an Uber. The first was three days, the second was 10 hours. This one ain’t gonna be 30 minutes.

  • Hypnobirthing is great for positive thinking but it doesn’t stop the pain. And calling them surges rather than contractions won’t either. But it will make you feel better in the lead up and postnatal period, so listen to those recordings daily.

  • After the birth, you’ll be wheeled to a hot postnatal ward. But you’ll have the most beautiful baby in your arms so you won’t care. The food is disgusting but you’ll think it’s delicious. Walking will be hard, but you’ll manage it. So will weeing. But again, it will soon get better.

  • Breastfeeding will be fine at first but after a day or two, your nipples will really hurt. Use lanolin, Jelonet and soft breastpads (plus cold cabbage leaves for engorgement). This will cure you of cracked nipples and stave off mastitis.

  • Don’t try to do too much too quickly. Avoid visitors for as long as possible, hole up with your family eating cake and cooing over the new arrival (while trying to reassure older siblings that they haven’t been displaced and fretting about their suddenly massive bodies rolling into the tiny newborn).

  • You may not feel comfortable moving around for a week or two. Take the painkillers. Soon the pain and discomfort will ease and it will be the best feeling ever.

  • Take the laxatives and eat loads of fruit.

  • Remember that your vagina will return to normal amazingly quickly. Don’t even bother trying to look at it in a mirror this time, there’s no advantage (but let the midwife, in case it’s not healing properly or there’s an infection).

    A beautiful post-partum tum.

  • Remember that although you still look six months pregnant after giving birth, each day your belly will reduce slightly. After two/three weeks, there will be flabby, flappy skin and fat rolling down over your thighs. Tuck it into your knickers and forget about it.

  • Accept all the help you’re offered (this reduces with each baby, but your mum will almost certainly be up for putting on laundry/ making tea – say “yes please!”).

  • Enjoy your new baby. S/he won’t be cute and sleepy for long so don’t wish away the early days. Breastfeeding may hurt, your other children may be more tantrummy, you may watch Glastonbury on TV and really wish you were there. But actually, you’ve created new life. Nothing is better than that.

  • Remember: everything passes. It will be replaced by a new challenge but one day, the baby will start sleeping for longer than three hour stretches. And won’t need to breastfeed every three minutes. You’ll be able to go out with friends and DRINK WINE really soon and all the tough bits will blur into distant memories.

Love, Annie x

THIS is why it’s all worth it

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