The internet will have you believe there are a million things you need to know for your first baby. But you only need to know a handful.
There’s a handful of key things you need to know; the rest — I promise you — you will figure out.
#1: It’s Ok To Cry
It’s ok to cry when you’re happy or sad or when you’re feeling overwhelmed, or just because you’re so tired.
Let your emotions out, but please don’t wallow in it. Feeling the feels will help you move past those emotions quicker.
And be kind to yourself — of course, you feel like crying. Your body has just given birth, and that’s HUGE. Your hormones are all over the place trying to adjust back to a pre-pregnancy state.
AND you’ve gone through a significant life change — you are now a mom. A mom. That change is joyful, sure, but it’s also stressful. There are so many uncertainties, and it’s so scary to think you may do something wrong.
So give yourself the grace to cry, and let it all out.
#2: Breastfeeding Does Not Come Naturally
Even though society tells you being a mom and breastfeeding comes naturally, it doesn’t.
Maybe it did once, but we have come a long way from surviving only on instincts. I know first-hand how difficult it can be.
My first piece of advice is: Do not let anyone — anyone — push, pull or squeeze your nipples to try and get milk out. The nurses pulled and squeezed me right after my c-section, and let me tell;, it was traumatising.
And it hurt.
In hindsight, I think many of my breastfeeding problems stemmed from that insensitive handling by the nurses.
My second piece of advice — look into the Thompson Breastfeeding Method. Dr Thompson has been a professional midwife for decades and has done her doctorate in breastfeeding care. She knows first-hand what she’s talking about, and she’s helped so many women. There is a free support group; check it out.
Her program saved my breastfeeding journey and released me from months of pain and stress.
So if you are struggling, know that you are not alone. But you can do this if you want to.
#3: You Don’t Have To Do Everything By The Book
Which book is everyone referring to, anyway? There are so many different books, guides and resources out there. And every one of them will have you believe you should do it their way 100% or you will fail as a mother.
A 2012 study into 50 years of motherhood guides revealed that they all have one thing in common: Their “advice” is always “issued as orders, and they set unattainably high standards for new moms.”
So do what works for you and your baby. Use your common sense, and the two of you will be fine.
#4: Be Proud Of What You Have Achieved
Mama, your body, has nurtured, grown and delivered an actual human being. How amazing is that!
No matter how sore, exhausted and overwhelmed you get — take pride in what you have achieved.
You will be unhappy with how your body looks postpartum. You will be uncertain and scared. But know that your body can and has done a fantastic feat, and if you can do that, you can face anything! And be kind to yourself — you will make mistakes.
So these are the key things I would urge you to remember when you become a new mom. The practical tips are all over the internet. But not enough people talk about how tough the transition to motherhood can be.
You can do this, mama.