Making Change: First-time Mum – Help!

First-time Mum – Help!

Making Change for Healthy Families

Having a little one completely reliant on you changes your life completely. It’s a time of re-adjustement, crazy emotions, and the never-ceasing desire of bringing the best for your child. Sometimes, it’s a matter of going through a reality-check: when you see the serene pictures of a mother breast feeding her perfect baby, and look at your life and that isn’t your reality – that can be frustrating! But, at the end of the day, motherhood really isn’t text-book.

I talk to a lot of new mums who bring a lot of mixed emotions when they weren’t able to have a natural child birth. They feel like they have failed. I had a C-section with my first son, and when it came to that first shower after the birth and saw the scar, I was devastated. Due to complications, my son wouldn’t have been here if I had delivered him naturally. But he was born a big, healthy baby who radically changed our lives!  Let me tell you, you haven’t failed if on the day the birth goes opposite to how you want it to. The most important thing is a baby born healthy! I remember someone saying to me: “I don’t go to the dentist and not ask for pain relief – why would I do this for child birth?”

Some first-time breast-feeding mums I have chatted to find it tough to successfully breast-feed their first child. As a mum, your whole world has been turned upside down and now you’re responsible for keeping this baby alive. Thousands of questions and opinions will flood your mind: Has the baby had enough? Is my milk good quality?  (when my son was a little fussy this is what I was told…) My nipples are sore and bleeding, how am I meant to feed this baby? A dear friend of mine was devastated that she wasn’t producing enough milk, even though she had tried everything to stimulate her milk supply, and felt so guilty of putting her son on a bottle. She thought “breastfeeding is best for my son and I am unable to feed him!” But now, after having three kids, I see that the most important thing here is the sanity of the mum and that the baby is fed! I look at her son now and he is the happiest little man. When your child is 18 no one knows (or cares) if you were breast-fed or bottle-fed, right?

As a first-time mum, I remember listening to other mothers recommending to feed your child every three hours, so that by the age of 10 weeks, your child would be sleeping through the night. So there I was, waking up my sleeping baby every three hours to feed him. I would get frustrated that he wouldn’t feed. And then the 10 weeks went by and I was left feeling a complete failure because he wasn’t sleeping through the night like they promised. Looking back now I think “really? Why would I wake up my baby?” It was all the pressure I felt to meet the expectations of being the “perfect mother” with the “perfect baby”. But honestly, your success as a mother isn’t reliant on how much your baby sleeps or for how long.

A single mum recently told me sheepishly that her one year old child co-sleeps with her. She felt guilty over that, and that the baby should be sleeping in his own bed. But who really cares? Believe me, your child won’t be sleeping with you when they are 16… just relax.

Being a first-time mum can be full of unrealistic expectations, which just makes it tough. If I could go back and give myself any advice it would be: relax, stay strong in what you believe is best for yourself and your baby. Don’t doubt yourself as a mum. There is this thing called mother’s instinct and it is real! A mother who cares is a good mother!

by Lea-Ann Copelin