Welcome to the magical world of being a mom. Only sometimes it’s not entirely as wonderful as it’s cracked up to be, like when it feels like you haven’t slept in a year, or when that adorable little person drops a bomb that’s almost as big as they are.
Magical right? Mothering magazines make it look so easy. Here’s some things they don’t teach in prenatal classes, but you’re sure to learn soon!
Those other moms are just as wrecked as you.
You know how other moms seem to have it all together, and when you ask how they are, they say “it’s all so wonderful?” At home they’re probably just as exhausted and struggling just as hard as you.
Some babies will sleep through the night very early, some may take even a year. Some will have colic or reflux, some won’t. Just like adults, babies vary a lot, but for many (if not most) parents, it’s shocking to experience such serious sleep deprivation for the first time in your life. You’re tired and short-fused, and that’s absolutely normal. Don’t compare yourself to other moms.
Most importantly, don’t be afraid to ask your partner, friends, and family for support. You’re doing a very hard but very important job, and a pair of helping hands can really make a difference.
Those other moms are worried they’re messing up, too.
In a way, this is how you know you’re doing a good job! There’s certainly some moms out there who never question whether they’re doing their best, or aren’t too concerned either way, but if giving your child the best start in life is important to you, and you’re wondering if you’re doing enough, then you’re already doing a great job!
Babies get heavy, fast.
That tiny lump of adorable cuddliness is going to grow bigger before you know it. You’re going to spend quite a bit of time cuddling something that’s almost twice the weight of your hand luggage. To make things worse, they will probably only want to be cuddled on one side. ALL. THE. TIME. Ideally, you should be working on your upper body strength before you even get pregnant, so that you’re prepared for the massive carnage that this is going to happen to your back.
Cuddles; they’re so nice, but ouch.
Breastfeeding can be hard.
Before you give birth, you’re probably adamantly probreastfeeding. It’s certainly best for baby. But once you give birth, you might find all sorts of unexpected difficulties with latching, get frustrated, and even give up. There are special classes to teach you how to breastfeed, and are really worth taking. The more prepared you are, the more likely you are to succeed.
Don’t forget that breast pumping is a back-up option if you’re having too much difficulty breastfeeding, but not ready to switch to formula.
Everybody suddenly has an opinion.
Your friends with children or grandchildren, and even your friends without children will stubbornly insist that you follow the latest pediatric information from 1954. You’re going to be swamped with opinions, often unsolicited and contradictory. Remember, you don’t have to follow someone else’s advice just because they’re adamant about it. You’re an adult, you’re a mother, and you can say “no thanks.”
Practice those kegels.
Studies show that up to 70% of women experience urinary incontinence during or after pregnancy, and up to 80% of women who do kegel exercises experience improved bladder control. Yet, far too many women don’t do their kegels. It may seem difficult to isolate the muscles, but talk to your physician and they will help.
Giving birth really does some pretty nasty things to your pelvic floor, and leaving it untreated is a very bad idea (think prolapses). Do your future self a favor and do your kegels!
Having a baby changes your life completely. Suddenly, the number one priority isn’t you anymore. It’s this tiny little being that relies on you for everything, and you’re their whole universe. The bond between a mother and child is amazing, and like nothing else in the world. You’re going to have challenges and struggles, but you’re going to feel so blessed, and develop incredible resilience and strength, both psychologically and physically. You will be amazed by the woman you’ve become, and you will be proud of your children and proud of yourself.
Again, welcome to motherhood! Cherish both the ups and downs of every day. These moments won’t last, but they will be the most special memories of your life.
Natalie Michele is an expert consultant on pregnancy and a mother of two beautiful toddlers. She loves helping other mothers or mothers-to-be and can be reached on her blog or Twitter.
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