The weeks after you’ve just given birth, especially if you’re a first-time mom, can feel totally overwhelming. Everything is so new, so different, and so darn hard – but remember that it’s only temporary. After a while, everything you’ve gone through will just blur into one milk-stained period, and you’ll wonder how you ever got by on such little sleep or how one little person can make this much noise. So hang in there.
In the hopes that it might help you see the light at the end of the tunnel, Goodness teamed up with Malaak to bust some of the most common (and scariest) post-partum myths out there.
Myth: You will never get this right.
Truth: You will! You are the perfect mother for your child and, when you eventually look back on this time, you will be able to laugh at some of the things you had to do. Make sure you join a mother-to-mother support group and look for professionals to give you advice.
Myth: Breastfeeding is natural and should be easy.
Truth: Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Some mothers will really struggle with breastfeeding, but they shouldn’t give up. Instead, look for support from both professionals and other like-minded mothers. Once you have worked through the early days, breastfeeding can be as easy as “pop your baby on”.
Myth: You should feel bad about bottle-feeding your baby.
Truth: Don’t feel guilty, because you might not have a choice. Some babies just can’t be breastfed, in which case formula or expressed breast milk are great alternatives. The choice is not always ours; there are many reasons why a mother needs to bottle feed.
Myth: Your body will never look as good as it did pre-baby.
Truth: Yes, your shape has changed, but that does not make you unattractive.
Every woman feels slightly overwhelmed after giving birth – and leaking milk, having baby spit on your clothes, and not fitting into your old wardrobe really don’t help. Following a healthy diet and starting to exercise when you’re ready will really help you feel more in control. There are a lot of programs available around town, but choose something baby friendly and close to home. Exercising in a group helps with motivation.
Before you resume exercise as a new mom, make sure you’ve gotten the all-clear from your doctor.
Myth: You will be more tired than you’ve ever been before.
Truth: It’s only for a short while. Everything will get better once your baby starts to sleep through the night.
Sleep is such a hot topic and something that we at Malaak deal with every day. This is where our ‘Good Habits’ sessions are useful. Starting at four weeks post-partum with simple guidelines often ensures we can help parents have better night routines. By the 12th week, we’re hopefully looking at a full night of sleep with one feed only and without a lot of crying.
Myth: You will probably never feel up to relations with your husband again.
Truth: It’s only a matter of time. You will, and you should try to have relations at least once before your six-week follow up so that your doctor can understand if there are any concerns. You will be bleeding until around four weeks post-partum and may feel a little unclean, however this should be starting to decrease considerably. Make sure to use some form of contraception to avoid a surprise nine months later.
Myth: Holding your baby is spoiling your baby.
Truth: Enjoy it while you can. You can never hold a baby too much and, certainly, you are not spoiling your baby.
Baby wearing and Kangaroo mother care have both been proven to improve all outcomes, from feeding and growth to bonding and even mental development. Very soon, they will want to run away from you and you’ll get a frown whenever you ask for a cuddle. Next thing you know, they’ll be in school and then at university. Enjoy the closeness while you can.
Cecile De Scally is the Lead Parent Educator at Malaak, an agency offering everything from prenatal classes and parental workshops to professional maternity nurse and qualified babysitters.