7 Things That All New Mums Need To Remember

After a pregnancy that simultaneously felt like the blink of an eye and a veritable ice age, your baby is born. Holding that tiny squealing pink bundle of joy in your arms you know that nothing will ever be the same. Indeed, you’ll never be the same again. Quite literally. Motherhood doesn’t just change your life, it changes your brain. It alters your brain chemistry in ways that are irreversible and permanent. Indeed experts say that it’s one of the most significant biological events in a woman’s life.

The first few weeks of life with a newborn are among the most transformative that you’ll ever experience. Suddenly all the things that used to cause you stress and anxiety like work for example, suddenly take a back seat. All that matters is protecting the tiny person you hold in your arms, whoever they are and whoever they turn out to be.

Image by Satyatiwari via Pixabay

Among the many neurological changes that are common amongst new mothers is an increased sense of observation that borders on a superpower, extraordinary sense of vigilance as well as, of course, a depth of love that they may never have felt possible before, eclipsing even that they feel for their partners and parents. But while the vigilance and awareness that are part of motherhood are tremendous gifts, they can also be a curse. They can cause new Mums to live in a state of near-perpetual anxiety, and relentless self-doubt. With that in mind, here are some things that all new Mums need to remember...

It’s perfectly natural to feel completely overwhelmed
No matter how much you’ve read, how much you’ve prepared and how much you’ve bought, nothing can prepare you for the experience of motherhood. Especially after the birth of your first baby (although even second or third time mums can feel the same sense of overload).

And although we have access to more information than we can shake a search engine at, this can actually exacerbate our anxieties rather than allay them (more on that later). It’s perfectly natural to feel as though you’re collapsing under the weight of your responsibilities.

When you feel like it’s all getting too much, just hold your baby close. Skin-on-skin whenever possible. Feel that? That love so powerful and so abundant that it feels as though you could burst? That’s all that matters! Everything else is just logistics. And you have the skills to help manage them.

Listen to your baby
It’s easy to forget that mothers have been bringing up perfectly healthy children long before the advent of the internet or the plethora of smart technological solutions that are available.

Indeed, we can become so accustomed to employing technology to assist us in our parenting that we can overlook the source of information that’s infinitely more reliable and eloquent… your baby.

Your baby is communicating with you all the time but they can only articulate themselves in gurgles, cooing and crying. While this may seem arbitrary at first, you’ll grow accustomed to deciphering the nuances of pitch, tenor and body language that are part and parcel of your baby’s communication. You’ll learn how they will yawn and pull at their ears when they’re sleepy. You’ll learn about the non verbal cues that indicate that they’re hungry like reaching up at you with arms and legs or sucking on their fingers. And you’ll learn that the blood curdling screams that are nightmare fuel for new parents are not in fact cries of terror or pain, but of hunger. 

You need to look after yourself in order to be a great parent!
As a new mother you’re constantly on duty, 100% of the time. And while your every waking moment may be occupied with your baby’s health, happiness and wellbeing, that’s no excuse for neglecting yourself.

Just as you need to affix your own oxygen mask on a plane before helping your child with theirs, so too must parents ensure that they are well in order to look after their children to the best of their ability. Lack of sleep, lack of nutrition, dehydration, headaches, nausea, all of these can occur when we fail to look after ourselves and our bodies. And all can be seriously detrimental to our ability to parent to the best of our ability. So make sure you share late night feeds with your partner where possible. Make sure you’re getting enough food (and good quality food), and make sure you have access to downtime. Even something as simple as wearing old eyeglasses can result in headaches that could make it harder to concentrate and make you more prone to irritability and anxiety. Simply arranging an appointment with your optometrist and getting a new pair of prescription frames can make a huge difference to your wellbeing. And hey, while you’re at it, why not treat yourself to some gorgeous new frames. You don’t have to choose between high quality and low prices. Even new Mums deserve to treat themselves every once in a while. 

Breastfeeding doesn't always come easily
Breastfeeding can become a contentious issue among new Mums. We all know that breastfeeding is recommended but struggling to express or feeling like you’re not expressing as much as you should (dysphoric milk ejection) can be a source of great depression and anxiety. It can exacerbate the baby blues and lead to a sense of enormous anxiety and inadequacy that no new Mum deserves.

Don’t keep your feelings to yourself if this has been your breastfeeding experience of late. A hug and an encouraging word from someone you love can be enormously comforting in times where you feel as though you’re fundamentally failing your baby. It’s much healthier and more beneficial for your baby to have a happy, healthy Mum who bottle feeds than one feeling anxious and overwhelmed when it comes to feeding time.

Trust your instincts
Many Mums, especially those of the millennial generation have spent their whole adult lives with access to the internet. As such, when their baby makes an unfamiliar noise or starts behaving in a way that seems unlike them, they may panic and pick up their smartphones to check Google. But this information may not be accurate and can cause on occasion, unnecessary worry and anxiety.

Living in the information age means that we have a plethora of books, a wealth of online resources and access to a supportive community of experienced parents and parenting experts. And while all of this can be awesome for a new parent, it can also lead to a worrying case of information overload.

As well-informed and well-meaning as all these books and other resources undoubtedly are, there’s no substitute for a mother’s instinct. Nobody in the whole world knows your baby better than you. If your instincts tell you that your baby is hungry, feed her. Don’t hold off for an hour because you read in a book that you should wait longer between feeds. Trust your instincts. Not only will it be better for your baby, it will help to assuage your anxieties and remind you of your competence and capability as a loving parent. 

Image by SMPratt90 via Pixabay

Your relationship with your partner needs nurturing, too!
Once your baby is born, your relationship with them gets bumped straight to the front of your list of priorities. Even with the best will in the world, your partner can suffer from feelings of loneliness, frustration and inadequacy when it seems like all your shared attention is focused on your baby. Which is why it’s so important to try and make time for each other, even if it's just watching tv and eating together on a Friday night for example.

You’re doing great!
It’s completely natural to feel out of your depth but remember that you’re doing great, and that you should be incredibly proud of yourself!

Feelings of anxiety and self-doubt are perfectly common and all part of the most incredible and exhausting learning curve a human being can experience.

*Collaborative Post