What can you do? You could say it is time for a feed and retire to the sanctuary of your bedroom, door closed firmly behind you. But some tactless soul may simply march in after you. Ideally, whoever has been holding the fort while you have been away should gently persuade visitors to leave the presents and move on, reminding them that they should telephone before dropping in again. Someone who will fend off callers when you dont want to see them can be of real service and save you a lot of stress. If you have always been well groomed and meticulous, you will really hate being caught in your dressing gown at noon, without make-up and smelling of stale milk. Because thats the way it is for the first six weeks or so anyway.

Adjusting to life at home. No matter how good your baby is in the nursing home, you will probably find she changes after the first 10 days. All of a sudden the rather placid sleepy mite may start to wake at odd hours and generally give you a hard time. If you are bottle feeding you will wonder what has happened to the four-hourly schedule she was supposed to be on, and your husband is likely to come home at night to find all that is left of you is a puddle of blood, sweat and tears.

If I’m painting a dark picture it is because too many relationships have been irreparably damaged, too many women have had their egos so badly dented that even psychiatric panel beating has not put them together again, and too many babies have been bashed by mothers and fathers who have snapped under the strain, to pretend it is roses all the way.

No one should underestimate the impact that the addition of a 2 500 g infant will have on their life. Mother love and maternal instinct are often either non-existent or come much later when you are relaxed and experienced. When you really need them, it is like pulling rabbits out of a hat easy when you know how but a mystery when you dont.

And this applies to all women. Those placid mothers in the bush dont cope alone, they have the best possible system working for them – a covey of old matriarchs who move in and take over supervision of the new mother. Leave your instinctive African mother in the city with no one to turn to and she is in as much trouble as the next woman.


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