Ahh, new motherhood. You go from dreaming of the day your baby will arrive to holding that tiny, wriggling bundle in your arms and thinking, “What the heck do I do now?” Hang tight, mamas! We’re here to help. We asked women to tell us one thing they wish they’d known when they first became a mommy. Read on for mom wisdom on sleep, self-care, getting perspective on those intense early days, and much more.
(click link at top to continue reading on redtri.com)
(click link to read this really important piece on thecut.com)
I’m lying awake, gazing at the gentle rise and fall of my 3-month-old’s chest. He’s a delicate infant, constantly surprising me with his smallness, like his sister did when she was born four years earlier. In recent weeks, my son has begun stretching out the number of minutes between nursing sessions. He can go for two hours without eating now, or two and a half if I’m lucky. This means I have more of a chance to sleep, at least in short spurts. But every time I drift off, I jolt awake in a sweaty panic.
I am on high alert all the time these days. I tell myself that this panicky feeling is normal — I have a new(ish) baby, after all. But it doesn’t feel normal. I have constant visions of my son suffocating in the night. I think of waking up to his cold body. I spend nights imagining a thousand unlikely, tragic things that could happen to him.
As a new mother, I had a knack for giving the impression that I didn’t need help.
My village lives on the other side of the globe, so it was borne out of necessity, but I wonder if it was more than that. As new (or not so new) mothers, I wonder if we feel as though we’re letting ourselves down if we show that we’re vulnerable. Are we falling short if we admit that we simply can’t do this alone?
That we have one hairy leg because our survival strategies have devolved into shaving one leg one day, and the other the next. And we forgot the second leg…for a week. That we eat breakfast for dinner on a semi-regular basis. And that if one more well-meaning person tells us (as if we’ve forgotten) that we really need to take care of ourselves, we’ll scream.
Because, before becoming mothers we were used to feeling productive. To meeting deadlines. To getting the job done and feeling like a valued team member.
But motherhood shatters that reality. And although it’s bittersweet, thank goodness it does. It softens us. Slows us down. Stops the treadmill of a results driven society, forcing us to reassess what we truly value in this one short life of ours. As parents, we need to redefine success in the context of a journey, with a destination we will never see.
The first hours after a baby is welcomed into the world may have short- and long-term consequences. Evidence has shown that newborns who are placed skin to skin with their mothers immediately after birth have better respiratory, temperature, and glucose stability, and significantly less crying that stipulates less stress.
Pope Francis kisses a baby at the end of a special audience for Italy quake victims in Paul VI Hall at the Vatican January 5, 2017. REUTERS/Tony Gentile
When it comes to breastfeeding in church, Pope Francis has a simple message for moms: Go for it!
While celebrating the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord in the Sistine Chapel on Sunday, the pontiff encouraged mothers present at the service to breastfeed their babies.
“The ceremony is a little long, someone’s crying because he’s hungry. That’s the way it is,” the pope said, according to Agence France-Presse. “You mothers, go ahead and breastfeed, without fear. Just like the Virgin Mary nursed Jesus,” he added.
The Feast of the Baptism of the Lord commemorates the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River. During the ceremony on Sunday, the pope baptized 28 children in the Sistine Chapel. When several babies started crying at once, he reportedly joked, “the concert has begun” and later suggested that perhaps Jesus’ cries as a baby were the substance of his first “homily.”
Pope Francis has famously invited mothers to breastfeed at this same service in the past. In 2015, he addressed worshipers with babies: “You mothers give your children milk and even now, if they cry because they are hungry, breastfeed them, don’t worry.”
In a 2013 interview, he also said he believes women should feel comfortable feeding their babies whenever they’re hungry and feel no shame nursing in public.
(click to read the entire article on mothering.com)
If we spend time thinking about it (which we often don’t), most of us believe we’ll transition into motherhood easily. I’m sure lots of women have no problems in those early heady days of being a first time mom. But I’d also be willing to bet that even the moms who look like they were born to smile at their babies (and manage to find time to take a shower) have ups and downs at the beginning.
With the vantage of hindsight, a lot of parents confess that the early days of life with a new baby were hard. Many moms I’ve talked to over the years have had trouble bonding with their babies, a process they assumed would be natural and easy. (I’ve written about my difficulties bonding with my second born here.)