Oh, the joys of motherhood; people fawning over you and telling you how your glow makes you look even more beautiful. People opening doors for you and partners bending over backward to ensure you’re spoiled and pampered, as you await the big day. When that day comes, it’s common for people to expect you to immediately fall in love with your adorable baby, begin breastfeeding and intuitively know how to care for your child.
However, what happens when you’re not being fawned over or staring at your baby with eyes full of love? Why do you cry and experience contractions, even when you’re not in labour? Why can’t you control your body and why isn’t the breast milk flowing already?
While childcare books might teach you a number of things about being a first-time mum, having a baby is not an easy task and the physical and psychological effects might be more than what most first-time mothers bargained for.
Five things every new mother should know
Breastfeeding is not intuitive and makes you hungry all the time
Sometimes, TV shows portray a new mother carrying her baby a few hours after giving birth and breastfeeding almost immediately. Breastfeeding is a skill that you learn and perfect through practice. A mother figure in your life or a lactation consultant should be able to give you a few pointers.
You should not be ashamed of experiencing postpartum depression
According to Paula Reece, an addiction expert at Recovery Lighthouse, postpartum depression affects all mothers, including those who don’t carry their children full-term. It stems from anxieties of being a good mother, pre-existing depression, nutritional deficiencies, hormonal changes and a lack of spousal support. This could lead to substance abuse if the problem is not treated in time. Therefore, do not feel ashamed to seek professional help.
Contractions don’t stop after birth
Some mothers experience contractions just a few days after childbirth. This happens when your uterus returns to its pre-pregnancy size and location. It fades after the first two days and becomes more painful with each pregnancy. Your doctor should be able to provide safe pain relief that won’t harm you or your baby.
You need help in the early days
Babies might look like tiny, innocent human beings, but they are a lot of work and two parents will struggle to cope in the first couple of weeks. You’ll need some downtime, during which you can relax, connect with your partner and calm your nerves. Enlist the help of a family member – preferably someone who has experience caring for infants. A veteran will also offer invaluable wisdom that can help make your motherhood journey easier.
The phrase ‘sleep like a baby’ doesn’t apply to newborn babies who don’t sleep a lot in the early days. Consequently, eye bags, a tired body and frazzled nerves are a part of motherhood. Expect to get less than five hours of sleep each night. Your partner should help to reduce the burden. Having your mother or close friend spend the first two weeks with you could also help.