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THE FIRST WORD; FRONTLINES.

Byline: Ceri Gould @GouldThomas

Dear Catherine, I know the last thing you need is another piece of well-meaning advice but you will soon discover, now that you're a mam yourself, that you just won't be able to stop yourself.

I'm not talking about your pelvic floor here you understand, of that more anon, it's just that when you become a mother you cannot resist the urge to hand out advice to other mothers.

Thousands of us nosey mothers have already been flooding Mumsnet and other parenting sites with some must dos, don't dos and whatever you dos. The helpful hints include such wise words as "you can never have too many muslins", "sleep when the baby sleeps" or "avoid the company of people who make you feel uncomfortable".

You may have trouble there considering who your in-laws are and all but there's the advice for you to read and ignore.

And here's mine. (And before all the anti-Royalists start butting in saying you're not our Princess of Wales etc etc, and I agree, you're not, I'm not talking to you as a pleb to a princess but as one mam to another.) So, now it's just us, we can 'fess up. It's sore isn't it? I mean, really sore. Did you try the special cushion? In my day you could hire them.

Then again, Poundland's selling Barbie blow-up rubber rings, so that's a bargain.

And one good thing about you being a princess is you won't be expected to tell us how many stitches you have, or whether William stood at the business end or did the helpful/unhelpful* (*delete as appropriate) hand-holding instead.

I doubt we'll be seeing any of that info typed up and displayed on an easel in front of Buckingham Palace.

Mind you, if you come over when you're about five weeks' in, sleep-deprived, and I ply you with booze you may enter TMI territory. So beware friends bearing 14% proof bottles of Chablis a few weeks from now.

You will give them Too Much Information. And nobody likes that. (Kay Burley from Sky is suffering from TLI among other ailments. Again, more of her anon).

I don't know about you but I really did want to talk about it. Birth stories are really, really, boring but there is something therapeutic about repeating exactly what happened to other women (men tend to leave the room and wet the baby's head or something at the 16th telling of the story).

It's almost as if you need to check that what happened was actually supposed to happen.

Don't worry about boring your friends. If they're mums themselves they won't really be listening but they will be preparing themselves for the moment you stop for breath, then they will butt in and start talking about their own story.

All the mums will be thinking that nobody had it as hard as they did.

And as for your child-free friends? Bore them to tears. They will have their revenge.

And yes, his little toes and fingers are just amazing aren't they? But what do you make of that meconium malarkey? Are you writing down how many times he's pooed and what colour it is? Are you checking that against the chart the NCT gave you to tell if he's thriving or not? (Thriving, such a medieval word don't you think?) My big-cheeked baby girl got a bit skinny soon after she was born and so I ordered a bouquet to arrive for her on her one month old anniversary on the basis that once she was four weeks' old she would be 'thriving' and bonny again.

She was baby number two so I was pretty confident.

She chomped away and got lovely big cheeks again just as friends visited. The doorbell rang. Husb brought in the bouquet and was mortified to find it was signed 'love Mammy'.

Still, you do what you think's best and in the early days, with no sleep, there's no wonder you may not be thinking straight. One other word of warning... after carrying that baby around for nine months, you'll suddenly feel very thin again.

Slim enough to wear quite tight clothes. Because, of course, in comparison with being the size of a house, the size of a dormer bungalow feels like a fairy. My advice? Resist or forever rue the photographs.

Breathe in your boy. Enjoy all the smells, the grunts, the snuffles. Husb was amazed babies were so snorty. Do try and sleep when he sleeps. (The baby, that is, not Wills) And, as a friend advised me, "Don't sweat the small stuff".

And for you the best thing of all? Zara's having a baby. So you will be able to give her as much advice as you like.

Love an interfering mother-of-two PS: They're right you know. You can never have too many muslins...

Don't worry about boring your friends - if they're mums themselves they won't really be listening
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jul 27, 2013
Words:827
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