Being a mum is amazing - and the hardest job you’ll ever do. Let’s see why it’s normal to not always enjoy it at first. No matter how many antenatal classes you attend, books you read and times you babysit, nothing can really prepare you for the reality of parenthood.
Yes, you know it’s going to be tiring, that breastfeeding can be tough and your career will be on hold for a while. But when your baby arrives and this is your actual life-well, it’s something of a shock.
Feeling overwhelmed is surprisingly common. In fact, more than half of mums admit to not bonding with their baby instantly, while a similar number pretend to be coping better than they are! In a survey conducted in the UK, one in six mums admitted to not enjoying motherhood until their child had passed their first birthday.
Of these women, half felt they had lost the identity and the same number felt they had to find new friends. More than a third missed leaving the house and going to work, while 24 per cent found breastfeeding a challenge. Many also admitted that they had moments of desperation, moments of walking away from their crying baby and moments where they wanted to ‘give’ their baby back.
Psychologists say many new mums experience some negative thoughts once their baby has arrived. They recommend that the mums need time to build up their parenting self-confidence, and therefore self-doubts and negative thoughts are common at this early stage.
Does baby come with a receipt?
Why is it that despite having nine months to prepare and in many cases your baby being much planned, that being a parent does not live up to expectations? Experts explain that the transition from pregnancy to motherhood is one of the biggest changes a woman ever experiences. Apart from having to recover from the physical effects of the delivery, which can last long after the birth itself, a new mum has to adjust rapidly.
Caring for a new baby can be physically challenging and emotionally draining. And while many women adapt comfortably, others can find it overwhelming initially, perhaps experiencing shock at the sudden change to their life or even disappointment with themselves and their baby that things are not going as smoothly as they expected.
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A lot depends on the delivery, the baby’s personality, the new mother’s confidence and temperament, and the support provided for her at this exciting yet challenging time in her life. The expectations to conform to what society regards as normal, along with comments from family, friends and fellow parents, often well-meaning, can all weigh heavily on your shoulders at this vulnerable time.
Unfortunately, society is often focused on celebrities and how they have the ‘perfect’ pregnancy and birth, and are back in a size 6 dress a month later looking stress-free. Hence, this is what many women think they have to live up to.
But the first few weeks are just one long round of feeding and dirty nappies-it has never been, and never will be, glamorous. The mother will leak with milk and look and feel exhausted. Every other new mum does too, but celebrities just have a make-up artist and hairdresser on hand to make them look fabulous for a photo shoot.
You can cope!
The secret to dealing with these feelings is to ditch the shame and be honest with those around you. A new mum should not feel there is something wrong with her because she isn’t over the moon every minute of the day. She should speak candidly with her partner, a close friend, relative or a health professional about her feelings. A chat with a good listener can be very reassuring.
*Don’t be too proud to ask for help, everyone needs it.
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*Be realistic, the first year is tough but it is also the most magical as your baby reaches amazing milestones.
*Don’t worry about what anyone else looks like or is doing, just relax and enjoy each and every moment that you can, even the stressful ones. You only get them once.
Be alert to whether your discontent is more than a natural adjustment period. While the baby blues pass within a few days without treatment, around one in ten women experience postnatal depression. If you experience persistent negative feelings, anxiety and depression during that first year, or a loss of self-confidence, poor sleeping patterns, loss of appetite, diminished sex drive, fearfulness, and unpredictable anxiety attacks, ensure you seek professional help.
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