Becoming a mama
Finding out you are going to be a mom for the first time is an incredible experience. And for the first time in your life, you are going to have the urge to actually find out what it’s like to have a child, and you’ll ask anyone and everyone you know with experience. Your primary source of info will be, of course, from your own mother. She will take you through the ups and downs, tell you about the sleep you will lose, and all kinds of parenting 101 stuff – but don’t expect to hear everything. What your mama didn’t tell you about becoming a mama.
In fact, there will be a few gory details that your mama – or any other mother – won’t mention at all. It’s not that they are trying to keep things from you, rather that they hope what happened to them might not happen to you. The reality of having kids, though, is pretty much the same for all parents, and there are a few things that you will find out soon enough. Let’s take a look at everything your mama won’t tell you about becoming a mother.
Your pregnancy will be messy. Childbirth will be incredibly messy. The postnatal period is messier than you might think, too. And once your tiny little baby starts growing, vomiting, and pooping – everywhere and anywhere – it won’t be long before you have had more than enough bodily fluids to last you a lifetime. Having a baby is one of the messiest things you will ever go through, so see this as a heads up to stock up on plenty of flannels, cloths, sanitary products, and calicos to clean up after your little one – and yourself.
You will relinquish all sense of dignity
During your pregnancy, you will be prodded, poked, and probed as if you were some kind of alien life form. You won’t like it, but it’s just a primer – once you reach the final stages of pregnancy, go into labor, and then actually have your baby, any shred of dignity or modesty you have left will be crushed. You’ll lose control of your bladder, bowels, and your mind – but it will be worth it in the end.
There’s a breastfeeding police
Every new mother wants to breastfeed their kids. And that’s great if it all comes easy. But the reality is it’s not as simple as that for many women, and some may not be able to manage. There’s a lot of pressure on moms to breastfeed, and you will become very aware of it if you start to struggle. My advice? If you can’t feed your baby, then don’t let them go hungry. Try all you can, of course, but ultimately you have to do what is right for you and your little one. Another thing to think about is that breastfeeding can be incredibly painful. Insurance companies will give you a free breast pump these days, which might help you ease the pain of having too much milk, and there are shields you can get for when your nipples are particularly sore and sensitive, too. But, if you decide to call it a day with breastfeeding, don’t beat yourself up about it. Give it a try, but always remember that the breastfeeding police don’t know you or your situation – and you should do what feels right for you and your baby.
The world will be different
Once you have your first child, you will likely spend a few days in the hospital getting to grips with your new role. And even if you hate hospitals, you will start to feel a little comfortable, even though you are desperate to get home. It’s easy to understand why – after all when you and your baby are under the care of a medical team, you don’t have much to worry about. But once you decide to go home, the second you step out of the hospital you are pretty much on your own, and the world will look a lot different to how it did before you went in. You will be more aware of the people that approach you. The cars and vehicles on the roads will look bigger sound louder and feel more dangerous. And your senses will feel sharper, more on edge. Congratulations – you are now a parent, and will feel like this for the rest of your life.
It takes time to get to know your baby
The image of childbirth you get from the movies and pretty much everyone you meet is that it is love at first sight. And it will be – but that initial surge of emotion might not last. Some parents are lucky enough to get an instant bond, but the reality for most is that it is just like the start of any other kind of relationship. It can take a while to get to know your baby, and you might not even feel like you love them. It’s entirely normal, however, and that’s why all parenting experts recommend a good bonding period. There will be many tough times ahead, too, and again, it’s perfectly okay to have negative feelings towards your children. After all, they will keep you awake every night for months on end, they will scream and cry when you go to the mall, they won’t eat when you want them to and demand food when you don’t have it. Again, welcome to parenthood! The main thing to remember is that all these things are normal, and they don’t make you a horrible person. It’s an entirely new experience for you, and you will have a definite learning curve to get through.
Finally, as much as you think your hormones were going crazy during pregnancy, it will be nothing compared to after the birth. New moms can be incredibly moody, and your mind will go through plenty of highs and lows over the first few months. Don’t panic, but do keep an eye on things – those mood swings could end up developing into postpartum depression. You may experience a huge range of isolation blues, too. Your best bet is to join as many baby groups as you can manage, and take advantage of the incredible support networks you will find there.
Having a baby is a wonderful experience – but it won’t be the Hollywood version for the vast majority of women. I hope this gives all those first-time expectant mothers a real take on what having a baby is actually like in the real world!