Here’s a new mum secret you already know: Becoming a mother is life-changing. You just brought this amazing new life into the world, and now you’re embarking on this new role: That of mum, mummy, mama, mom, mommy, or whatever you hope your baby will call you when he or she is finally old enough to talk. (Let’s be honest, “Dada” will be your baby’s first word, but we mums live in hope.)
But being a new mum is sometimes… Well, a bit of a shock. And you may be wondering: Is it really supposed to be like this? Do other new mums feel this way? Am I the only one?
Confessions of a new mum: The new mum secrets other mums won’t tell you (but they should!)
1. “I don’t know what I’m doing! How could they send me home from the hospital with this baby when I am so clearly inept at taking care of him?”
Being a new mum is scary, because you’ve never done it before. And even if you already have older children, and you know the basics of babycare, every baby is different. Your baby will sleep a lot in the beginning, giving new parents a false sense of security (and causing people to use that annoying phrase, “What a good baby!”). But when he or she wakes up and starts to discover the outside world, whoa — it’s a wild, thrown-in-the-deep-end experience. It’ll take you some time to get to know your baby and to figure out how to care for him or her. So take heart: All new mums feel like they have no idea what they’re doing. But eventually, you’ll figure it out.
2. “I am suddenly terrified of germs, particularly from other people, and I want to say ‘No!’ when they ask if they can hold the baby — even my own mum.”
New babies seem very fragile, and haven’t had the exposure to the world that we hardened parental souls have. And suddenly, Great-Uncle Bob who smokes a pack a day wants to hold your baby? Or your best friend’s two-year-old is reaching toward your baby’s face with her sticky, dirty hands? Or your mum, who just brought you a homemade meal, is offering to hold your baby so you can go shower but all you can picture is the greasy piece of foil she just removed from the container with her fingers and threw into the bin (even though she washed her hands afterward)? If you’re seeing germs, germs everywhere, take a breath. Your baby is going to be okay. You are going to be okay. Let other people hold your baby. We know it’s hard, but do it. (Not Great-Uncle Bob, though, because secondhand smoke is dangerous and disgusting.) After a while you will adjust and the world will not look like such a germy place.
3. “I kind of hate my husband right now. And I don’t think I want him to touch me.”
Often having a new baby will make you and your husband feel closer than ever, but at some point in those early days of being a new mum, you might just want him to Go. Away. Breastfeeding and holding your baby are wonderful ways to bond with him or her, but if you start feeling, well, “touched out”, that is normal too. And you might also feel a bit grumpy because you’re the one doing all the babycare tasks while your partner goes back to work — particularly the tasks your partner can’t physically do, like breastfeeding. Feeding a baby can be demanding, and when you’re tired and worn out, you can feel resentful toward your partner. This too shall pass — but this is when you need to take time for yourself whenever you can, and let your partner take over when you need a break.
4. “I am obsessed with my baby — sometimes I want to wake her up just so I can look into her eyes. I want to cuddle her all the time. I don’t want to be away from her for a single moment!”
Babies are amazing, and even if you feel overwhelmed, you won’t be able to resist nuzzling your baby’s sweet neck, sniffing her head, gazing at her sleeping face, counting her eyelashes… And there may be times when you want to wake her up just so you can cuddle her, play with her, or soothe her while she cries. We know, it sounds mad. But it’s true — you will be sorely tempted to squeeze those tiny, chubby legs and kiss those cheeks when you shouldn’t. You’re not losing it. You’re just in love!
5. “That saying ‘Sleep when the baby sleeps’ is a cruel, horrible joke. I can’t sleep! There’s too much to do!”
We hear from so many mums who say their biggest new mum secret is their complete inability to rest, even though they know they should be trying. “Sleep when the baby sleeps — should I cook when the baby cooks and clean when the baby cleans, too?” is the kind of comment new mums regularly make. Yes, we know there is a tonne of stuff to do around the house. The laundry alone is mind-boggling. But here is a new mum secret you need to know: If you don’t get enough rest, you will burn out. A happy mum equals a happy family, and it’s in your baby’s best interests for you to get enough rest and relaxation. Please, put your feet up. There is plenty of time for housework in the future. Right now, go cuddle your baby and rest together.
This beautiful image courtesy of Michyla Corban, photographed by Rosemary Morris of photoshoot.co.nz.
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