I love my baby. But I was unprepared for how childbirth would change my body.
I thought I was pretty well prepared for the birth of my son. I had loads of friends with kids, I was an aunt, I’d attended a prenatal course, read (bits) of the many books recommended to me. And yet I discovered afterward that I was completely unprepared for the physical changes my body went through in pregnancy and the recovery that would follow. Obviously giving birth is one of the most extreme things your body can ever go through. So why was the aftermath also such a shock?
(Click link at top to read this op ed piece on nytimes.com)
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.