The 10 Things I Would Say To A New Mum
Rebecca is a writer and new Mum to an eight month old little boy & has recently launched a new blog at Warwickshire Mama Rebecca has been reflecting on the last 8 months since her world changed & here’s her wise words to you, fellow Mummy…
“My journey into motherhood has been a real trip. As my son reaches eight months old this week, I continue to reflect on how much has changed in such a short period of time. There’s so much I have learnt: about babies, about parenting, about myself. I continue to be surprised every single day.
To say I had completely mis-imagined what being a new mum would be like is an understatement. It was a thousand times harder than I thought it would be, yet I remain a million times more in love with this human being than I thought I could be. It’s been exhausting, emotional, overwhelming, yet for some sadistic reason all I can think about a large majority of the time is instantly wanting to go through it all again.
Today, I am much less sleep-deprived than in those early days, and I’ve been enjoying my new role more and more as each day passes. I do often reflect back on that tough fourth trimester, how at times I did struggle, and I find myself wanting to reach out to new mums say a few things.”
You have been through a lot, recover in any way you need to
When the baby arrives, people easily forget that a woman has just endured a nine-month-long marathon. Add to that an exhausting labour and/or major surgery, plus sleepless nights of breastfeeding attempts and you’re looking at a person who has been through a hell of a lot, physically and mentally. Set the pace for your own recovery plan. With c-section recovery, it took me a good two months to feel physically able to tackle everyday tasks. Whether you’ve had surgery or not, remember that everyone heals differently, and listening to your own body is more important than going by what any recommended guidelines say.
Be honest, it’s OK to reach out for help
Focus on your own healing and be transparent with those around you if you need time, space and help to rest, recharge and recover. Reminding everyone of what I had been through encouraged my husband and I to make decisions like declining visitors, asking for meals to be dropped round, reaching out to my parents to help with chores, and so on. Don’t suffer in silence. Tell those around you how you feel, ask for help, confide in your midwife and health visitor – there is no shame in admitting that this is hard, it doesn’t make you any less of an exceptional mother.
It’s OK to prioritise you
Putting yourself first as a mother does not mean that you are putting your child second. You are prioritising yourself in order to be able to prioritise them too. Realising that I was an important player, the most important player, in this baby’s life encouraged me to put my own self-care first and ensure that I was checking-in with myself daily. I also talked about this topic honestly with my friends which inspired them to regularly check-in with me too during a time when I was feeling vulnerable.
Stop feeling guilty about the things you haven’t done…
… and start feeling good about the things you have done. I spent way too much time in those first few weeks berating myself about what I felt I had failed on – questioning whether I could have done anything to make my birth any different, crying endless tears over the fact that my baby wouldn’t latch onto my breast at all no matter how hard we tried. It’s really hard to see it through all of the fog but the glass really is half full. There are more things you have done than haven’t.
You will eventually start to feel like you’re getting something back
One of the things I found most difficult with a newborn is that despite your endless efforts in taking care of them, they are unable to give you any feedback yet. You can sometimes feel like you have no idea if they’re happy, as your first few days or weeks may consist of crying, sleepless nights and feeding difficulties. Once they’re a little older and you see the glimmer in their eyes, the look on their face when you walk into a room, it all becomes worth it.
If you’ve lost yourself, you’ll find her again
Another thing I struggled to come to terms with postnatally was grieving the loss of the person I was, and this is nothing to feel guilty about. Just because you’re adjusting into a new version of you does not mean that you don’t also love your new position as a mum. Right now, recovery feels like an eternity and you may feel like you’ll never find yourself again but don’t worry, you will. It takes time and you have to go slow, but a new mum-version of you is waiting at the top of the hill.
Don’t worry if you haven’t got it all figured out straight away
The tiniest things feel like huge challenges the first handful of times, don’t they? Changing a nappy in public, installing a car seat, getting the pram out of the boot, making a bottle out-and-about, working out restaurant high-chairs. Like any new job, in time, these things will become second nature. To everyone on the outside, they look easy, but I know that – especially on the darkest days – they are a massive deal. Congratulate yourself on all of the hurdles you are jumping over and all of the things you are learning to do (on such little sleep, too!).
Comparison is the thief of joy
This one really does speak for itself. You’re not the only one with a difficult baby, not the only one who has really hard days, not the only one who is feeling overwhelmed. All babies learn to eat / walk / talk / crawl / take bottles / laugh at completely different times. If you’re comparing your birth or baby to anyone else’s, stop. Stop it now! You’re doing amazing, so is your baby, and on the days you feel you aren’t doing amazing, we’ve all been there!
You’ll find your confidence and learn how to use it
I’ve done a lot in the last eight months that has surprised me. I argued with restaurant staff who wouldn’t give me hot water for formula mix. I complained about a waitress who told me off for bringing my own baby food into a cafe. I told a stranger it was upsetting me that she kept saying how “small” my newborn was. I never knew that motherhood would force me to step up and be the confident, honest and proactive person my son needs me to be. If you ever feel you need to stand up for yourself and your family – you can do it, we’re all behind you.
There’s no one right way to do things
This one I found the most important. It spans all topics, from rest and recovery, to feeding and diet, to co-sleeping, self-settling and seemingly minor things like using a dummy. I’ll say it loud for the people at the back – parenting is not black and white, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer and there is research out there to support every side of the argument. Sometimes we find ourselves not doing what we are led to believe is ‘best-practice’ but we must never forget that all families and their environments are completely different – each individual situation is unique, influenced by your own unique levels of support, energy and time. Therefore decisions you make for your family can’t be anything other than unique, too. Do the reading, consider your own personal circumstances, be sensible, tune-in to your common sense and trust your own instinct and judgement.