Royal baby fever has made me come over all emotional, thinking back to the day we left hospital with our baby son. I’m not a huge royal fan to be honest with you, but seeing the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on the hospital steps yesterday did bring it all back-the sense of protectiveness, the realisation that this is your baby’s FIRST LOOK AT THE WORLD-just mindblowing stuff, not to mention the terrifying passing over of the baby from one parent to another (‘What if he DROPS him?’) and the ever popular hissed row about whether the car seat was in properly (I can’t believe William and Kate missed out on that one-nearly as much of a rite of passage as having to fold your buggy up on a bus with one hand).
Hair and beauty wise, Kate did exactly the right thing-hairdresser, make up artist and a very carefully chosen frock. For those of us without her resources (or the world’s media camped outside the maternity ward doors) there are some quick fixes which can help you look and feel a bit more like your old self during the first few daunting, sleepless and wonderful first days with your newborn. I did some of them, and wish I had done others!
Leaving the hospital
Hair: top recommendation here is to find a two in one (shampoo and conditioner) that suits your hair. Remember that your gorgeous, shiny pregnancy can sometimes fall out sharpish after you’ve given birth, so I went for a volumising shampoo and conditioner. Didn’t bother with any styling products, but it felt good to have clean hair, dried simply and pulled back with a simple clip.
Face: I had a foaming face wash in my maternity bag, as friends had warned me that the maternity ward was incredibly hot, and I’d need something refreshing (as an unlucky acne-prone person, too much heat has me breaking out sharpish). So a quick but thorough face wash, then a caffeine eye gel (one with a roller-think it was Garnier) to try to get rid of some of the dark circles, and a light moisturiser. Once that had soaked in, I used a BB cream, a creamy brown eye shadow and Vaseline as lip gloss, and I was ready to go and introduce my baby to the world!
Clothes: I was in jersey maternity smocks for several months after DS arrived, so don’t think I’m in a good place to give advice about post-baby wear…
Once you’re back home
If you’re lucky, your other half will probably have a fortnight of paternity leave. Pretend everything is normal during this time, don’t rush your bath/shower time-you may as well enjoy having someone else there to watch the baby. Once the fortnight is up, you’ll probably have to speed things up a bit though, or be shouted at by a sad faced baby while you’re exfoliating, which isn’t relaxing for anyone. So, use moisturising EVERYTHING (shower gel, face wash, hand soap) as it should mean you end up clean and moisturised in one step, rather than two. Oil shower gels are particularly good for this-I think I had a Nivea one. I used to sit on the end of the bed next to the baby while I dried my hair, and he’d happily watch me (and shriek if I moved away from him AT ALL). Vaseline your feet every now and then overnight to get rid of dry skin, and paint your toenails with something pretty if your baby ever naps.
A multivitamin is worth thinking about, and drinking a lot of water. I used to aim for a pint every time I breastfed, but buggered it up most times by forgetting to get the water before I sat down, then realising I was stuck for the next forty minutes. Think about booking a mobile hairdresser who can come to you when the baby is very little-mine needed feeding all the time when he was small, I didn’t dare go for a haircut, as I’d have been worrying about him being hungry all the time. Mobile hairdressers are often cheaper too, as they don’t have salon overheads-mine used to charge about a tenner for a cut, which was perfect for my maternity pay budget!
Resign yourself to the fact that everything has changed. Remember that just because you no longer come first, it doesn’t mean you don’t count at all-you just made a human, which is just a staggeringly brilliant thing to have done. You will almost certainly have days when it feels like the only thing you’ve achieved is emptying the dishwasher, so why not have pretty toenails when you do it?