Ten Things No One Tells A New Mom

So you were pregnant, and couldn’t wait for your baby to arrive. Couldn’t wait to meet the little person that had been growing inside you for the last 40 or so weeks. Once the baby was here, was it everything you hoped for, and more?

No? Well you’re not alone. Many new moms say that there is definitely a shroud of secrecy over motherhood and its not-so-glamorous challenges. Educational child psychologist Lisa Michaelson agrees. “

New parents wouldn’t feel so isolated if more aspects of parenthood – both negative and positive – were discussed openly.”

1. Bonding isn’t instant. So dont feel bad if you look at your baby, and still have mixed feelings. Even though you were probably told, while you were pregnant, that you will ‘take one look at your new baby and fall in love’. If you’re lucky, it happens. If you’re normal, like me, you’ll look at your child and think ‘oh my god, that is the weirdest looking creature I’ve ever seen. How’s that NOSE?!’

Like any other relationship you have with another person, bonding takes time. A bond is a strange thing, it’s either there instantly, or it can be worked on.

What do do? Spend as much time as possible with your newborn. Once you get to know how he/she works, and how to best soothe/feed this little human, things will get much better. Once you’re more confident with your skills, it seems easier to focus on the connection between the two of you.

2. Homecoming is scary.

Did you look forward to bringing your new bundle of joy home from the hospital, and picture yourself gazing over the edge of the crib as baby sleeps peacfully? Well, homecoming with a newborn is nothing like this. Being in hospital with your baby is like being in an artificial enviroment. People bring you food, make your bed, help you breasfeed and take the baby away when you want to sleep.

These things dont happen at home, (unless you’re lucky or live in a hotel) plus by this stage your body is pumping out  emotion-producing hormones, leaving you feel teary, overwhelmed and frustrated.

Dr Erik Fangel Poulsen, a gynaecologist who writes for Netdoctor.co.uk says:

“Most new moms will experience a period when they feel insecure, vulnerable, sad or anxious. The enormous responsibility of suddenly having a baby to care for can make a new mother feel afraid and inadequate.”

What to do? Try to relax. Your baby senses your tension, and becomes tense himself, which can turn into a vicious tension cycle. Try Rescue Remedy. It’s also safe for infants. Take things one step at a time, prioritise. Focus on you and baby, dont worry about the house and cleaning and cooking. Ask for help if you need it. Dont be ashamed. Everything new takes a little time to adjust, and soon enough, you will have discovered your baby has a routine, and it becomes easier to fit everything around that.

3. Breastfeeding isn’t easy.

So baby latches in the hospital, and drinks small amounts frequently, and you think to yourself ‘wow, this is easy. okay, I can do this‘. Then you get home, and your baby just seems to be hungry ALL the time, and it seems that your body just isn’t producing enough milk, and you’re crying, and baby’s crying, and daddy’s getting upset because there’s nothing he can do to help.

What to do? Decide whether you’re going to breastfeed exclusively, or whether it is acceptable to do top-up bottle feeds. But be aware that the chances are that baby will eventually come to prefer bottle, as it’s easier to get sustenance from a bottle than from a breast. So make sure you choose a good formula. I recommend Isomil (milk and lactose free – it is soy based). And make sure you choose the right feeding equipment – I reccomend NUK bottles and a Bambino microwave steriliser.

Although breast feeding is indeed best, it sometimes isn’t always the most practical. Although it is free, which is great. If you’ve managed to breast feed for, say, 8 weeks (like I did) you’ve managed to give your child the vital immunities he or she needs for the first few months of life. So congratulate yourself, and feel no guilt if you have to move on to bottle feeding. Just think of it this way – bottle feeding means other people can help. Bottle feeding means that grandparents or helpful family members can take baby for a whole night, while you get some sleep!

If you decide to breastfeed exclusively, know that you will need a lot of patience, time and good books or magazines to read. It’s important to eat a balanced healthy diet, and to replenish what breastfeeding drains from you. And it is draining. You will find yourself constantly thirsty. Here’s a good recipe for a drink that will help stimulate your breastmilk.

Just be patient, and remember that it’s all about ‘supply and demand’ – your body will adjust to the demand your baby makes, but it will take a little time!

4. Daddy takes credit, but is really just a bystander.

You imagine a happy threesome. With a helpful daddy who changes diapers, baths baby and generally fits into the role of Mr Mommy better than you could have hoped for. A new father has the broadest chest and the widest smile in the world – that’s until he realises that all his newborn baby does is eat, poo and sleep and generates quite a bit of extra work. Then he’s nowhere to be found, and you’re left feeling you might as well be a single parent.

What to do? If nagging doesn’t work, try bribery. Also point out the fact that fathers that are more involved in the daily work of looking after a baby generally have better sex lives. Why? It leaves mom with a little more energy, she’s feeling more grateful, and is more likely to respond positively to dad’s bedroom eyes.

Encouragement works, but dont tell him what to do. He wont like being bossed around. He’ll have his own methods, they might not be as efficient as yours, but the job will get done. Just let him figure things out for himself.

5. You still have nothing to wear.

Unless you’re some kind of freak, you’re not going to be able to wear your pre-pregnancy clothes home from the hospital. Perhaps not even three months later. You’ll have a mummy-tummy, bigger boobs, and generally more curves than you had before. Perhaps your feet have even gone up one shoe size.

What to do? Try eating healthy, when you’re hungry. Pregnancy probably taught you some bad eating habits, what with that whole ‘you’re eating for two’ fallacy. Exercise moderately. Only exercise 6 weeks after birth. Join a women-only gym.

If all else fails, grab daddy’s credit card and hit the shops. Retail therapy works wonders.

6. Mommies are competitive.

Beyond description. It’s always ‘my baby did this, and my baby did that’. It gets a bit tiresome, especially when all you want to do is brag about your own baby. This kind of competitiveness can be stressful, can lead you to wonder if your child is developing on par with others, can lead to anxiety about your adequacy as a mother. And it’s annoying if someone else’s child does something before your own.

Furthermore, the idea of a ‘super-mommy’ does not exist in the real world. Dont compare yourselves to other mothers. You have no idea what goes on behind closed doors, or just how close that ‘perfect mommy’ might be to having a nervous breakdown.

What to do? Consult the experts for reassurance about milestones and other concerns. Parenting books, magazines and professionals will all tell you that your child will develop at his or her own pace, and that trying to rush things only places unnecessary stress on both mother and child. Dont compare yourself to other mothers either. Do the best you can, in that moment. Day by day. And dont feel guilty.

7. The real cost of a baby.

Yes, we all know having a baby is expensive. But having a baby is not the only part. There’s the hospital bills, clothing, feeding, entertaining, educating and housing expenses as well. Once the reality of the bills sets in, sometimes you’re left wondering if this was all really worth it.

What to do? If you haven’t already had a baby, it’s never too early to start saving. Just a little bit each month in a fixed account will help. Be practical – ask for practical gifts for your baby shower, such as disposable nappies, diaper bins, formula, clothing in sizes other than newborn and car seats and prams. These gifts can also be bought as ‘group gifts’ – everyone attending your shower chips in a little bit of cash.

Budgeting – work out what you spend on what, and where you can cut corners and save. Hard work, but it helps to see where you spend the most money…

8. Your life changes – completely and forever.

Some mothers dont bat an eyelid at the change in lifestyle. Others are wiped out by sleep deprivation, and not being able to go out and party all night like they used to be able to. Sometimes, the good step you’ve taken towards starting a family and being a family seems outweighed by the parenthood trap. You might also feel that your relationship with your partner is no longer the same.

What to do? Accept that life has changed. Accept it. Really, you have to. Communicate with your partner. Spend time together. Be this after baby is in bed, or whenever you can manage. Plan things together. Have ‘date nights’. Arrange for a babysitter occasionally, so you can go out and party all night, if you want. Join groups of other mommies, so you have others who know how you feel.

9. You lose friends.

It’s sad, but true. Friends without babies dont feel they relate to you anymore, or get irritated by the fact that you can no longer go out for dinner or partying at the drop of a hat.

What to do? If you really still want those friends, keep them appeased by seeing them on your ‘baby sitter’ nights, and minimise the ‘potty talk’ around them. Or, find new friends – new friends with kids, who you can arrange play dates with, can have child-friendly social gatherings, and who you can relate to better. Just remember – there is still social life after children!

10. How repetitive it all is.

Feed, burp, change diaper, sleep, change diaper, feed, entertain, bath etc etc. It’s the same thing, over and over. It’s the same games that delight, it’s the same food that satisfies, it’s the same shitty nappies every day, all day. It gets a bit much some time.

What to do? Make sure your partner is involved, to take some of the stress of repetitiveness off you. Get out the house, socialise with other moms. Go for a walk, take a long bath, or hire a babysitter or recruit an unsuspecting family member.

Each mother experiences motherhood differently and even the common complaints may not be as severe for one mother as they are for another. But when your friends ask you what they can expect from motherhood, it’s a good idea to tell the truth – good and bad. Gently, but firmly. No frills.

Adapted from: Women24