The joys of motherhood are sprinkled with tears, sweat, and your baby’s bodily fluids. However, in between all the poopy diapers and sleepless nights, there will be surreal moments where you finally understand the magic of your little human laughing for the first time or tasting orange for the first time or—basically doing anything for the first time.
All good and bad aside, one fact remains—there’s a heaping pile of stuff that is going to catch you off guard. If you look at all the parenting books out there, they have a few aligning factors, but almost all of them vary in the advice they give. This goes to show that being a mom is a cakewalk, and it will jostle and jive every plan, every expectation, and every ounce of sanity you have.
Not to worry though, we’ve got you covered. This article will give you a concise list of information that mothers should know—information of which you may not have heard yet.
1. Physical and mental health is a challenge after giving birth
Your body, on a physical and chemical level, will have been undergoing immense changes throughout your pregnancy. So, of course, after the birth, you will be recovering physically, mentally, and emotionally. Here are a few tips on how you can heal each department:
Bear in mind that if you were very active before birth, you will need to take it easy for a while after and heed your doctor’s advice on physical activity. Also, carrying around a baby can be quite exhausting for a mother who is healing. Try to look into options for baby carriers that promote physical wellness. There are many designs that can accommodate body type and personal preferences.
Sleep will be a fantasy you chase every day. Try to sleep every chance you get. Sleeping when the baby sleeps might not always be possible, but try your best as it’s cardinal for physical recovery.
Don’t underestimate the power of a bubble bath or a nice long walk. Self-care is essential in maintaining some semblance of mental health, so try not to neglect yourself while caring for your baby.
Pregnancy and birth are going to send you through a whirlwind of emotions. Postpartum depression is real and completely natural. If you feel like it’s too much to handle alone, then don’t be afraid to talk to someone. Many women have been where you are.
2. You won’t change overnight, and neither will your instincts.
Pregnancy changes a lot of things, but it doesn’t change everything about you. You are still “you” after you give birth. So, don’t expect to wake up and suddenly have maternal instincts and to always understand the signals your newborn is sending. Also, don’t guilt-trip yourself if you didn’t read more parenting guide books. One thing that those books don’t tell you is that there’s no amount of literature that could prepare you for being a mother. Yes, it can help, but the experience is really the only effective crash course.
3. Mothers know best—but it’s okay if you don’t
To reiterate, you’re not always going to know what to do. Your body might feel like it’s turning on you some days. The cries from your baby might seem endless. You might feel disconnected from your baby and even yourself. Fellow mothers are your best resource of information. If you don’t have people in your social circle who have children, then try to get involved in something that would connect you with other mothers. They’re fountainheads of relevant information who understand what you’re going through. Whatever you do, don’t go it alone.
4. People are going to trivialize your pain
You will have unfinished chores up to your ears and be severely deprived of sleep. You will have small problems that will feel like a tidal wave, and the emotional rollercoaster you’re on will create crises out of thin air. In spite of how much you’re going through, people will always undercut it with “But oh, it will all be worth it,” or “You’ll miss these days, so enjoy them while you can.”
There’s always some self-proclaimed, Mother Sage who will hit you with a line like that after you’ve vented a bit. It will happen more than once. Be aware—-people will constantly trivialize what you’re going through, but that doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to be unhappy with your lack of sleep or social interaction.
5. Love will have a new meaning, but it might not in the beginning
Your child will evoke in you a love that is so intense, so profound, that it completely redefines what the word means to you. Even when you’ve been woken up from the deepest sleep, you will look forward to getting up and looking your child in the face and being its source of comfort.
But not so fast—-this doesn’t always happen immediately. At first, on the most radical side of the spectrum, your infant might seem more like a pink alien than a tiny human, which only repays you for your care in poop and vomit. Don’t feel ashamed if you don’t connect with your baby right away. It takes time to bond, and that intense, motherly love doesn’t always take root overnight.
6. Remember—you can have a career and also be a good mom
Going back to work will most likely feel like the biggest dose of guilt you’ve ever had to swallow. Don’t be surprised if you burst into tears when someone asks you how you’re doing. Just remember this—-womanhood can consist of both motherhood and a career. It’s not like you can’t have one if you choose the other. You can choose both! And you can be great at both. In fact, having a stable, successful career could turn out to be something your child admires about you later.
In spite of the infinite access we have to information, you’ll always hear the parents say, “Parenthood doesn’t come with a user’s manual,” and it couldn’t be more true. Educate yourself as much as you can for yourself and your child, but keep in mind, you can’t know what you don’t know. And that’s okay. If you’re reading this, you obviously care a whole lot about your child, and that’s what’s most important. Keep seeking out information and resources for yourself, and you’ll do just fine.