Guest blog by Perdita Kamali …..
My name is Perdy. I’m 32, a GP and Mum to George (5), Ralph (2) and Martha (3 weeks).
As a working mum of three, I wanted to pass on a piece of advice to first-time mums: embrace and enjoy your first maternity leave. You can guarantee maternity leave for baby number two and onwards will not be the same!
Firstly though, a bit about the guilt. Unfortunately that feeling of guilt when you have to inform work that you’re pregnant does not get any easier, no matter how many times you do it – it’s so hard as it’s news that you share with everyone else with glee! I felt guilty about “letting work down”, leaving my patients, even getting maternity pay! I fell pregnant with my third very quickly after getting a new job, so the guilt of knowing I would be leaving after several months was awful, but I was also worried that it would negatively affect this exciting stage of my career and I really didn’t want to take a break from it. Thankfully I’ve had very supportive work places, and knowing now how quickly maternity leave flies by, I know I need to just enjoy it and can pick up where I left off when I return to work. You have decades to devote to your career, but you’ll never get that first precious year of your child’s life back.
Back to that ‘first maternity leave’ advice that I promised at the start. When George, my first born, was 10 weeks old, we had to move to the North East due to my husband’s job relocating. I was determined to make friends as I didn’t know anyone in the area, so I threw myself into mother and baby groups. Looking back, I’m so glad I did. The mummy friends I have made from those early weeks and months are still firmly by my side now, and I strongly believe that having a tight circle of close mummy friends around you is so important for both physical and emotional support, and obviously for little one to grow up with pals too!
In terms of baby groups, you name it – I tried it. Baby swimming, yoga, massage, music groups, buggy fit classes, wrigglers, sensory play and baby sign language. A lot of the time I wasn’t even sure George was getting any benefit (his lack of interest in baby sign language was pretty hilarious), but for me it was all about the potential to meet like-minded mums.
I think new mothers are a unique breed. Filled with a sense of empowerment and, generally speaking, refreshingly honest. This makes it easy to get chatting, find those with whom you recognise an instant connection and feel confident enough to invite them round for a cup of tea immediately!
Having mummy friends who you can whatsapp at 3am about blocked ducts, send photos of your babies poo for reassurance, unload upon about all the stresses of sleep deprivation, cluster feeding and later down the line – toddler tantrums etc, is completely invaluable.
The other thing about that first maternity leave – looking back it was (mostly) blissful – was being able to watch hours of box sets when George was cluster feeding, or popping him in the sling and going off for a hike with him and the dog, going for coffee with friends and of course one-on-one time to just stare at him and bond with him. I assure you all of these things are much harder to achieve when you have a toddler in tow!
So for all those first time working mothers out there – your career will be waiting for you, maternity leave will fly by, and trust me – you’ll miss those early weeks and months when your baby grows up so embrace and enjoy every moment.