Becoming a mother, whether it’s your first or fifth time, is no doubt the most stressful thing you’ll do in life (and that’s just the pregnancy). There’ll be stress coming from the doctors and midwives about scan sizes and heartbeats, stress from those who have been there before and have all kinds of horror stories or expectations to live up to, and most importantly, stress from yourself about whether or not you’re doing things “right".
Once your baby is born, you’ll face a heap of new stresses, and a lot of them have to do with your skills as a mum. The truth is, nobody knows what they’re doing and we all just kind of hope for the best, so it’s time that we as women tried to take a different stance on motherhood and changed our attitudes to give ourselves more of the appreciation that we deserve.
Love Yourself Too
When we’re pregnant, there’s no shortage of attention lavished on us whether it’s our fortnightly prenatal massage or elaborate baby shower, but once the baby comes, everything is focused on them. It’s not that our babies aren’t deserving of this love, but it also doesn’t mean that your wellbeing should fall by the wayside. You don’t have to suffer in silence just to be a good mother, so take some time out for yourself where you can and give yourself a chance to recover. Don’t think of your mental health as a luxury and something to be put to the side just because you became a mother.
Ignore the Experts
Easier said than done, as everyone seems to be a parenting expert, but this one more relates to the numerous baby books and blogs that show you how you can “train” your baby. A recent study showed a direct correlation between the number of baby books and manuals that a mother reads with the deterioration of her mental health, so put the books down and trust your maternal instinct.
Don’t Feel Guilty About Asking for Help
When you first have a baby, it seems there’s no shortage of people offering to help, but after the first couple of weeks when all that help disappears, and you’re left alone with a new baby, you can feel isolated. Rather than feeling like you should just suffer in silence, reach out to someone. If you think an hour nap might help one day, say “yes!” to the friend who offers to sit for a while or drop you around some takeaway for dinner. Being a mum isn’t all about suffering alone. We can rely on people to help us out occasionally.
Worrying Is Okay
One of the best pieces of parenting advice you’ll ever receive may just be “If you’re worried that you’re not doing a good job, that makes you a good enough parent.” The fact that you’re concerned about your parenting skills or worrying about whether or not you did something right shows that you actually give a damn, and that makes you a pretty great mum already.
Avoid the Comparisons
One thing that all mothers are guilty of is comparing themselves to others, whether it’s in a positive or negative light. It’s also the easiest way to get down in the dumps about yourself or how you parent, so it should be avoided at all costs. All mums, no matter how together they might seem, have meltdowns and all mums go through the same annoyances we all have each day. Just because a mum might look put together at the park and has no real obvious signs of baby spew on her clothes, don’t just assume it’s all roses for her.
You Will Look Back and Laugh
Parenthood is full of those moments where if you don’t cry you’ll laugh. While it might not seem like it when you’re in the trenches, covered with old breastmilk, and trying to settle a screaming baby, you’ll look back on these times with fondness. No matter how bad you might feel about your parenting or skills as a mother, if you kept your child alive and made it to the end of the day, that’s something to be proud of.
Give Yourself a Little Credit
There is so much to learn when a new baby comes our way, but we also need to stop and take a moment to think about the other life that’s been created – you as a mother. Although our babies certainly deserve all our love and devotion, be sure to leave a little for yourself too, and remember that your happiness is important.