Since becoming a mum nine months ago (the months fly by), I have learnt a few things that I believe new mums or mums to-be will find helpful. Here are nine things to keep in mind.
You’ve probably heard from other mums how they fell in love with their babies the moment they set eyes on them. You expect to be struck by this love lightning as soon as your baby arrives too. That’s the normal thing isn’t it? Instantaneous bond. Well, it could happen for you but if it doesn’t, it’s not a big deal. As a matter of fact, a lot of women don’t feel that big surge of lovey dovey emotion at the moment of birth and it’s okay. This might come as a surprise to some especially when everyone else is gushing over this baby but bear in mind that these other people are just meeting the baby but the mother has been very aware of the baby’s existence for the past few months. She’s carried her everywhere, felt baby’s kicks and somersaults. Also, the birth experience can be so physically and emotionally demanding that it really is unfair to judge a woman’s immediate reaction to the birth of her baby. I remember when I had my daughter, I was just glad the wait was over and she was healthy. I was too tired and terribly famished (since my last meal was 20 hours earlier). Love was the last thing on my mind but after a shower, a meal and a nap, I got to cuddle my baby and my heart began swelling with so much love for her. So, if the love wave doesnt hit you as soon as your baby is born, it’s normal. Don’t fret.
You’ve probably prepared for the baby as best as you can. Read books, listened to experienced mums and if you are like me, you’ve read almost every article Google has to offer on the topic of caring for a baby. You want to be the perfect mum for your baby and you don’t want anything to screw that up. That’s a noble expectation but probably not the best. Your baby needs food, warmth and your loving touch. Everything else is mostly about the adults and not so much the babies. Babies don’t care if mum got them the most expensive baby clothes or designer diapers. They just want to be fed, cleaned and comfortable. As long as you cover those basics of comfort and hygiene, you are what your baby needs. Forget what everyone else thinks.
Motherhood is a tough job. A physically and emotionally exhausting one in which you don’t get paid, your boss (in this case your baby) is unable to show appreciation and everyone else around you dictates how you should or shouldn’t do it. It’s a job in which no matter how hard you try, it would seem you get more criticisms than thumbs up. With that said, motherhood is rewarding in its own heartwarming way.
You simply can not please everyone and you should never try to. One way to be your best as a mother is to not lose yourself in the process. Sometimes you need to acknowledge that a mother’s work is never done so you take the time to breathe and take care of yourself. It’s easy to think you are the only one who can care for this tiny bundle of joy but this mindset will drive you nuts. Take breaks from caring for your baby. It could be to take an uninterrupted nap, a bath, go out for lunch or something while someone else helps care for the baby. This might seem selfish but it actually benefits your baby because a happy mum makes for a happy baby.
For a new mum, the world of babies is new territory and most seek information from books, the Internet and from experienced mums. This in itself isn’t a bad thing and is beneficial but remember that babies aren’t programmed robots. Every baby is different, acts different and develops at a rate that’s not equalled by any other baby. That is why babies’ growth are expressed in percentiles in the medical world. So, if you have the privilege of caring for your baby full time, you’d pick on the non-verbal cues your baby gives. You know what your baby’s normal is and you shouldn’t let the so called ‘experts’ overrule that. Listen to them but don’t discard your instincts as a mum. Another person might have birthed and raised 15 babies but when it comes to your own baby, you are the expert.5. You don’t have to explain your parenting choices to anyone
This is self explanatory. If you are making an educated decision to formula feed your baby then do just that and if you decide you want to breastfeed, then do so. You owe no one any apologies. Being a new mum can be emotionally draining and I think it’s unfortunate that society compounds this by constantly judging a woman’s parenting decisions.
No matter what your choices are, you will be judged so you might as well get on with it and spare yourself the trouble of wondering what people will think or say.
Make a decision and roll with it; breastfeed or bottle feed, cloth diaper or disposables, to use pacifier or not, method of personal care, foods you choose to feed baby when weaning etc. No matter which you choose, someone will always find it odd but who cares as long as it works for you and your baby.
I have breastfed, used cloth diapers and used a pacifier when my baby was younger and I have been made fun of over every single one of those choices. Yes, believe it or not I have been made fun of because I wasn’t feeding my baby formula. I was accused of starving my baby when I used a pacifier and also accused of denying her a pacifier when she cried without one. I hate to say it but you simply can’t win with people.
More often, people don’t mean any harm, they simply are projecting their own parental insecurities on others. Once you understand that, you can ignore insensitive comments, decide what works for baby and you and keep it moving.
6. Enjoy your baby
This seems like a no-brainer but caring for a baby can be stressful, especially in the newborn stage. When my daughter was born, it was as if I forgot how to sleep. Even though she was a good sleeper I simply couldn’t relax and take a nap when she was. I always had things running through my head that I had to do and before it got done, she was up again and the cycle repeats itself. Soon enough I was burnt out. Sometimes as a new mum, you just have to let your hair down (if you still have any – I cut mine) and take a breather. It’s hard to appreciate this gift of a child if you are constantly exhausted either from sleep deprivation or just the stress of it all.
Contrary to what you might think, it’s okay if your baby gets only a sponge bath sometimes and gets a full bath every other day. It’s okay if your baby wears one outfit during the day as long as it’s clean and dry, (bibs are helpful) . Just try not to get swallowed in all the busyness. Babies do grow fast so slow down and cherish the wonderful moments.
Babies are precious gifts and being a mother is a privilege. Enjoy every moment.
Ronke Alao is a writer who gives time-tested and simple principles to help women enjoy their relationships and marriages. Her methods teach women how to get past the confusion of dating and getting to the place where they really have fulfilling relationships and marriage.
She is known for her ‘up-close and personal’ style of getting her message across and drawing lessons from her personal experience. She is married to her best friend, Wale, who is her biggest cheerleader. Her online newsletter,EveryWoman’s Heart, is read in over 90 countries. Download her free E-book– Embracing The Real You