The mum struggles no one talks about
Motherhood is often cited as ‘the most natural thing in the world’. In reality, it’s a huge shock to the system no matter how many baby books and ante-natal classes you notched up during your pregnancy.
It’s a time of nocturnal calls to your mum for advice and frantic Googling of every newborn symptom, where the hours and days blur into one and a decent night’s sleep feels like a lifetime ago.
Take comfort in the knowledge that you’re not alone! Here we’ve shared the most common struggles for new mums and our advice for making it through the early days with your sanity and wellness intact:
You may be in shock from the birth
After nine months of carrying your baby and getting excited about its arrival, the actual birth can be a traumatic experience. Even the most straightforward deliveries take time to recover from, physically and emotionally. You might feel shocked about the pain you went through, disappointed that it didn’t go the way you planned or upset about the uncomfortable after-effects. This is all totally normal and each day will get a little easier. As you get to know your baby and your body starts to heal, those hours in the delivery room will fade to a distant memory.
Our advice: Call in favours from your friends and family for the early days, giving you time to recover from the birth. And talk over any worries with your midwife or health visitor.
That first rush of love might take longer than you think
For nine months you’ve been dreaming of that magical moment when your newborn baby is placed in your arms for the first time, you lock eyes and immediately feel a head-spinning rush of maternal love. Cut to real life - you’ve laboured for what feels like a week and the midwife plops a gunk-covered baby on your chest who immediately starts wailing and does their first big poo all over your hospital gown. Rather than a rush of love, you’re hit by a wave of exhaustion, the desperate need for a shower and demands for tea and toast! Don’t worry, the bond with your baby might not happen instantly, it’s more likely to develop over the first few days as things settle down at home and you get to know each other.
Our advice: Try and steal as many calm, quiet moments with your baby as you can in the early days. If you’ve got a house full of visitors, take the baby into your bedroom to feed and start to build that mummy baby connection – you’ll soon be totally attached to your little bundle of joy.
Your relationship will change
No longer a carefree couple with heaps of spare time to enjoy– you’re now parents devoting every waking (and half-sleeping) second to looking after your baby. This is bound to have an effect on your relationship. You’ll probably resent your partner escaping to work and a day free of feeds and nappy changes. And they might struggle to bond with the baby as quickly as you and feel left out as a result. Don’t panic – these new roles take some time to get used to.
Our advice: Once again, call in family and friend reinforcements so you can spend some time together just the two of you. And always voice your worries to each other, don’t bottle things up.
You may lose sight of yourself
As cute as they are, babies have a habit of dominating your life from day one – and you might not feel like yourself for a while. It could be little things like abandoning your morning beauty regime, skipping the odd meal because you’re distracted by baby or realising you haven’t left the house in days. You might avoid social situations because you’ve been immersed in all things baby for so long. When your life revolves around a little one, you can feel like you’re losing your own identity.
Our advice: Slowly start to connect with your personality again – once a week try to do something just for you. Get together with your friends in baby-friendly situations like a coffee date in the park. Book a babysitter so you can get back into your favourite hobby, or find a new activity that you can take baby along to.
Mum guilt will hit you out of nowhere
Mum guilt affects even the most confident and savvy mothers, especially in the hormonally-charged early days. You might feel guilty for willing your baby to sleep so you can have a rest. Or panic when your baby’s crying and your soothing methods don’t work. You could worry that you haven’t established a feeding routine when all your mum friends seem to have it sussed. Mum guilt can completely overwhelm you if you’re not careful. Just remember, with such a new experience it’s totally natural to second-guess and question things.
Our advice: It can be tough, but we strongly advise you make a deal with yourself to block out the mum guilt. Motherhood doesn’t mean martyrdom – looking after a baby 24/7, you’re allowed to covet some time to yourself!