I used to judge mothers. I judged them for the food they fed their baby, the clothes they dressed them in, the messy house, the products they used, the way that they spoke to them. I had all of these pre-conceived ideas about motherhood; that there are hours and hours of spare time to do things while baby naps, that baby will breastfeed and grow and be happy all the time… or on the other hand that I’d get absolutely no sleep, struggle to shower, my house would be a shambles and I’d really find it hard.
I never came across an in-between, but it’s where I’ve ended up. Because some days it is really, really hard and my baby takes hours to settle and I do struggle to find the motivation to shower and others I have an abundance of time on my hands to chill out. I’ve learnt a lot over the past few months of becoming a mother; because for me, the moment my baby was placed in my arms it felt surreal and it’s only in the last couple of weeks that I actually really feel like a Mum (at time of writing my baby is 10 weeks old).
These Are The Top 8 Things I’ve Learnt As A Mother:
1. Do what you need to do for you and your baby to survive.
I learnt this when against my yearning to completely breastfeed my baby, she lost too much body weight and there were concerns for her health so I had to give her formula. I felt like a failure until I learnt that her health was more important than my pride. And so too are most of the things that we want to hold on to; just do what you need to!
2. Put effort into your relationship
Having a baby will be the toughest experience for you and your partner; include him, make the effort to show him affection too, be a team and be honest with him. Communication is the key; discuss things and make decisions together. It’s easy for resentment and frustration to grow particularly when you’re both sleep deprived and your whole life has changed but make the effort and your relationship will strengthen rather than wither. Oh, and give him a heads up about things – he isn’t a mind reader!
3. It is perfectly okay to ask for help
There is one pre-conceived idea that I will never let go, and that’s that it takes a village to raise a child. You are never alone and you are not a bad Mum if you ask for help (and get it). But so many women struggle with the concept of having someone else care for their baby or do their washing etc., you are no less of a person for getting some help!
4. Be honest, be considerate and don’t judge
There are so many networks available to you when you become a Mum… online and offline. It’s easy to get caught up in what other Mum’s and babies are doing and compare yourself to them. I struggled with my milk supply and seeing photos of full milk bottles and women sharing about their ‘oversupply’ really triggered my ego but I would remind myself that it wasn’t malicious they just hadn’t thought about it. And what might trigger something for me might not for someone else. Just think about it and choose your forum!
No Mum or baby is perfect and no Mum or baby is the same. You will have terrible days; it’s inevitable so use those forums for support, honesty and connection because those things will help you get through those days where you just want to run away. As a good friend said to me, ‘feeling overwhelmed/sad/angry/frustrated at times are all part of being a mother. When your baby is screaming for hours on end and you have done everything the books say and nothing is working and you feel like the worst mother in the world, it’s ok to express those feelings and let it all out.’ And it is always better out than in, because the more you let it eat you up, the more likely you are to burst – and your baby/partner/friend/the random in the street, doesn’t deserve that! Don’t try and be a martyr, you don’t have to do it all and you don’t have to suppress how you’re feeling; there is always someone you can talk to. Be open to finding people that can help, understand, support and lift you up; there are people out there!
5. Take the bits that feel right to you
Everyone loves giving you there 2 cents when it comes to babies, take the advice that feels true for you and forget about the rest. Remember that every baby is different and no one knows your baby better than you and your partner. Some days X will work, and other days it won’t.
6. Let go of the need to control
Sorry, but no matter how hard you try there will be times when things are out of your control in your pregnancy, your labour and when you become a Mum. Surrender and rather than relishing, enjoy it for what it is. You will never have that experience again and there is always something to learn. Your baby is growing and developing and doesn’t mean to keep you from your sleep or your work or your coffee.
7. Find time for you
I emphasize the word ‘find’ because the time doesn’t just fall into your lap. Prioritize; what’s more important the dishes in the sink or your mental health? Happy Mummy, happy baby.
8. The way you feel is more important than the way you look
Our body is an unbelievable thing to grow a baby and regardless of your birth story, your baby is here and YOU grew that! The stretchmarks, the flabby belly, the extra weight aren’t things to be embarrassed about because they are what made it possible for you to grow your angel. Focus on feeling good rather than looking good and always lead by example.
I’m learning and I’ll always be learning but what I know now more than anything is that this magical gift is so worth it. Never have I felt more frustrated and yet so in-love than now. I know that in what will feel like the blink of an eye my baby will be having her own babies. I hate that I used to judge, because the reality is that until you’re experiencing it you have absolutely no clue; so rather than judging and begrudging let’s support and inspire one another. As long as you and your baby are healthy and happy that’s all that matters!