Dear Kate - lessons on being a good mammy

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It doesn’t matter who you are - what you have or what you have not - becoming a parent for the first time is a uniquely humbling experience.

After nine months of expectation a child - your child - is placed in your arms and your world, the very sense of who you are, changes in that instant.

Suddenly you are responsible for another human being. You are responsible on every level - from feeding and changing, soothing and nurturing - to raising them to be a confident, happy, well adjusted individual.

There is no greater joy - and no greater burden. And it doesn’t matter if that baby is third in line to the throne or being bounced on a knee somewhere in Creggan - mothering a child is an experience which bonds women everywhere.

So from one woman to another - here is some advice on surviving those early months and years.

Trust your instincts. Throw out the baby books Kate - they represent just one opinion on how to do things. A mother knows best. No-one will know your baby boy like you will. If you want to hold him, hold him. If you want to play with him, play with him. If you want a night off even though it might disturb his routine - have the night off, even if you only use it to sleep.

Allow yourself the time to get to know your baby - every gorgeous, squishable square inch of him. Babies grow up fast - take the time to marvel at his perfect little toes, his tiny hands and the way he fits curled up on your chest. Before you know it, you will be crying in Tesco as you buy him his first school bag and you will be wondering where the time has gone.

Do royalty swear? Derry women do. And I would encourage you to follow our lead should anyone even hint that you should be getting back into those pre-pregnancy clothes any time soon. You have different priorities now. I’m not suggesting you take to tracksuit bottoms for the next two years, as I did after the birth of my first child, but perhaps find a happy medium. Don’t undersell yourself, or your child. Become a competitive mother (let’s face it, you have a certain edge on the other mums in the playground anyway) but don’t be too competitive.

Let your child be a child. There will be enough time for grown-up things in due course. Never buy Moonsand - it’s too messy and not as much craic as they let on. Bake together. Make up silly stories. Sing songs together. Dance in the rain. Most of all, no matter how old your baby gets, always tell him you love him.