Parenting is one of the hardest things you could ever do, but as the old joke goes, kids don’t come with an instruction manual. Instead, new parents – especially new moms – face an array of challenges, often with little guidance. Well, now it’s time to speak out because the reason that new motherhood feels so challenging is that new moms often feel ashamed of struggling. By breaking the silence about these 4 common challenges, though, everyone can find their way through those overwhelming early days.
A Rough Recovery
Popular depictions of celebrities and the relatively brief maternity leave offerings in the United States make it seem like giving birth is no big deal, and that you should be back on your feet within a few days. The reality, though, is that birth is very hard on the body and recovery can take weeks. During that time, your body has to heal damaged muscles and tendons, reestablish hormone patterns, and even address bone damage, as your hip bones partially unknit themselves to widen the birth canal. In other words, if you’re not flaunting a bikini body two weeks after you’ve delivered, you need to cut yourself a break.
Every family has their own philosophy on the best way to get baby to sleep, as well as if and when to sleep train. While some see it as necessary for everyone’s sanity and part of teaching babies to self-soothe, others think it’s a hinderance to secure attachment – but the fact is that neither approach is more or less right, developmental speaking.
The fact is, whatever path your take, you’re going to contend with sleep deprivation for a while and it’s going to be difficult. And though sleep deprivation is one of the more well-acknowledged facts of early parenthood, connecting with other new mothers who can commiserate and offer advice can make a big difference. The fact is, sometimes it just helps to talk to other people who are fighting just as hard to get a few hours of shuteye.
Bottle Or Breast
As with sleep strategies, there’s no one right approach to feeding your baby. Instead, as many advocates have declared, “fed is best.” If you do choose to breastfeed, though, it’s important to recognize that breastfeeding can be challenging and it’s okay to supplement with formula, to pump exclusively, or use any other combination that works for you. Breastfeeding may be “natural,” but that doesn’t mean getting the combination of latching, sufficient milk production, and the like will be simple. For many mothers, breastfeeding feels anything but natural, especially in the beginning.
It’s easy to accept the images of maternal bliss that dominate the media – you probably will be overjoyed to finally hold your new baby – but that doesn’t mean you won’t have any concerns or doubts. The reality is that bonding takes time, it takes four times as long to do something simple, like go to the grocery store once you have a baby, and everything tends to feel like too much during those early sleepless, pain-filled, hormonal days. It really does get easier, though. With a lot of practice, and a little more sleep, you and baby will be in sync in no time.
Early motherhood is hard so don’t make it harder on yourself than necessary by judging yourself inadequate. You’re doing your best and your baby will be fine. In fact, before you know it, newer moms will be coming to you for advice.