There isn’t an experience in world that compares to becoming a mother. Of all the things I am (Audiologist, Wife, Sister, Daughter, Friend and more) being a Mother makes me proudest but it is a title I have grown into and certainly not one that was born along with my daughter.
In the first week of motherhood, I struggled so much with breastfeeding. It wasn’t that it was painful nor was I having supply issues, it was simply that my new baby and I had a hard time learning how it worked. In that time, my confidence was low, my resilience was gone, I had been bombarded with suggestions and advice, and I had consulted ‘Dr Google’ 300 times to many.
I was feeling like a failure more and more with every day and also felt like I had made a huge mistake in becoming a Mother. Shouldn’t I know what to do with my own baby? Isn’t breastfeeding the most natural thing to do as a mother? Why wasn’t I more prepared for this?
The truth is, no one can prepare you. There isn’t a class, a friend, or another mother in the world that can prepare you for just how confronting it is to become a mother. There are so many books, blogs, and magazines that are aimed at preparing new mothers but they may as well be written in a foreign language. Until you have your new babe in your arms, you won’t understand the challenges you will face.
So how do you survive?
One simple tip (not advice because no one wants advice) is to avoid Google. The best way to get to know your baby and also tune in to your own instincts is to simply ’be’. After about three weeks with my brand new daughter, I banned myself from Google because it was causing so much stress and confusion. No matter what information you look for there will be a ‘professional’ or other telling you one way and equally another professional telling you the opposite and that the former is incredibly harmful. Once I quit Google, I started to follow my daughter’s lead and I genuinely started to listen to my own instincts surrounding everything from when to feed her to knowing when she needed some space vs. when she needed a cuddle.
Another tip is to get some sunshine. Nothing made me feel more normal than to go for a walk in the fresh air and catch some rays on my face. I was too nervous to go anywhere in those first three weeks and it took time to work up the courage put Margot in the car. But a stroll in the sunshine with a swaddled baby in the bugaboo made me feel human and my confidence grew from there.
Lastly, just know that no other mother knows what she is doing either. All mothers before you and all that will come after you just make it up as they go along. It gives me comfort knowing that we all have to learn how to be a mum and when others appear to be cruising, it may be that they too have accepted the unknown or they are faking it until making it.
Any issue you face whether it’s breastfeeding or reflux has been faced before and mostly in a time without Google so just relax and go with the flow. Take advice if you like it and watch the words of others float over you as they speak – do not take on board anything that doesn’t feel right and definitely don’t answer to anyone.