This week is Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week. For any new mamas those first few weeks are all a bit of a blur filled with love, exhaustion, anxiety, self doubt, sore nipples, greasy hair and big knickers!
You will stare at the mini human being your body has created with awe and a disbelief that yes they really are yours and yes you did create them… you will also wonder if they’re still breathing approximately every 5–10 minutes through the night (we’ve all been there!).
Sadly there is sometimes a darker side to being a new mum with 1 in 5 experiencing some kind of depression either during pregnancy or in the first year of motherhood.
This week thousands of mamas are showing their support and sharing what they’d give a new mum.
Written with the benefit of that wonderful thing called hindsight here are 5 things I’d give a new mum…
1. Bonding with your baby sometimes doesn’t happen immediately…
Hollywood movies lead us to believe you’ll experience that instant tear jerking rush of love and bond with your baby as soon as they are handed to you. Now don’t get me wrong for some mums this does happen. For others though it can take a little longer… and that’s NORMAL.
There are many reasons bonding can take hours, days and even weeks! A long and traumatic birth, problems establishing feeding, too many well meaning visitors the list goes on.
As a new mum struggling to bond with her baby it can be a very lonely and dark place. It’s hard to admit to people, even your partner that you’re struggling especially if they’ve bonded already. It can leave you feeling pretty down, anxious and worried you’re not doing something right. But please mama don’t feel bad. I promise You WILL bond with your baby and it will be amazing when it does happen.
2. Don’t put pressure on yourself
There are so many pressures you go through as a new mum… feeding, trying to make it out of the house before 3pm, entertaining plethora’s of well meaning visitors — I was tidying the house and even found myself cooking for people on day 3! I mean seriously what was I thinking?!
Here’s the thing though… no one expects you to be supermum so please don’t compare yourself to strangers on Instagram… believe me they don’t have their s**t together… they’ve just used a very good filter or conveniently shoved all the mess 1 mm out of the picture frame!
I bet even HRH The Duchess of Cambridge was secretly screaming “why am I wearing bloody heels 7 hours after giving birth?!” as she stood on the steps of The Lindo Wing facing the worlds media the other week!
Give yourself time and space. Our NCT teacher tried to tell us to limit visitors in those early days and looking back I really wish we had. Too many visitors can leave new mums even more exhausted than they already are.
Try to limit the visitors and if you can’t get your partner to act as gate keeper and keep an eye on the time. Try making up a phrase or safe word you can say if you’re tired and want him to politely get rid of your visitors… ours was “Can you get that spotty bib for me”!
3. Fed is best
Now I’m not here to start a whole feeding debate and indeed with my nutritional background I do advocate breast feeding. However, it isn’t always an option for some mums and no one should ever feel guilty if it doesn’t work for them, they are unable to breast feed or they simply choose not to. There is a lot of pressure out there on mums to breast feed and if it doesn’t work it can leave you feeling pretty dejected and depsressed.
Our son didn’t like boobs to begin with (I plan on reminding him of this in his teenage years!). He lost 18% weight loss by day 5 (!!) and we had to rush him into the amazingly wonderful Alder Hey Children’s Hospital where he was pretty much unconscious and severely dehydrated on arrival.
It was definitely a real low point watching an A&E doctor put a feeding tube down your baby’s nose as you’ve somehow “failed” at the most basic of mothering tasks!
It took me a long time to come to terms with the fact breast feeding didn’t work for us but when I did I realised I had absolutely nothing to feel guilty about. He thrived and was just as healthy as all the other babies. So if breast feeding does or doesn’t work for you or indeed if you simply choose to bottle feed from the start, it’s all fine; As long as they are fed that’s all that matters.
On a practical note — I wish someone had told me that Pampers* nappies have a line on them turn blue when wet!! Had I known this important piece of information I could have saved myself sticking my fingers in a lot of nappies and picked up that he wasn’t feeding earlier.
*Other brands are of course available
4. Trust your instincts
You’ll hear this a lot before the birth but it’s so true. Mother nature does something to us that kick starts a super heightened sense of what’s best or what’s not quite right for your baby.
Sadly this heightened sense also means you’ll be the one who wakes up at the slightest stir from their crib or their room in later years (it never leaves you!). Your husband will most likely snore away oblivious and you will/may also want to smother him on several occasions for this!
5. Dry Shampoo and plenty of it!
For when those well meaning visitors rock up and you look like you’ve been dragged through a hedge backwards!
If you or any mamas you know are feeling down or struggling please do seek help. Remember you’re not alone, you’re doing great and it will get easier.
For #sanitysavingsuggestions with or with your mini humans in tow (!!) and lots more then be sure to follow ‘A Mother Place Crosby’ on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter