Congratulations, you're a mom! Now, here's the lowdown on motherhood!
You may be reading this article collapsed on the couch, in the middle of a meltdown or in the early hours of the night after a feed, wondering what this magical journey is all about. This new series aims to shine a candid perspective on the journey of motherhood - the good, the ugly and the rewarding. Let’s start first by addressing some physical challenges faced by new moms.
It can get ugly postpartum but this too shall pass. If you’ve asked yourself why is the bump still there after delivering the baby, you’re not alone. I honestly thought my tummy would flatten the day after but it took several postnatal massages and wraps before that happened. Healing takes months, sometimes, a period as long as a pregnancy.
- Will you ever get back your pre-birth body? Unlikely. Take a deep breath and acknowledge the changes your body has gone through. Now take another deep breath and accept this new body unconditionally. No doubt, this new shell is softer, looser, leaky but hey, you have single handedly produced a new tiny human bean and that’s “Blessed Be the Fruit” amazing. This is a reminder of what your body is capable of. Please let that fact sink in.
- Do you wonder why photos of mothers and their newborns capture the pair smiling, like motherhood is the best thing in the world? Where are the documented moments that depict the ugly b-roll realities like swelling, tearing, bleeding, dimpled flesh, cracked nipples and tears, that you hardly see in media and ads? Posts on social media often sugar coat realities however there are a few, brave women sharing more imperfect moments like @takebackpostpartum, which can help you feel less lonely during the hazy period of recovery. Share this with a friend you empathise with, or even better, share your version of reality.
- Breastfeeding guilt is hard to shake. Damn if you do, damn if you don’t. As the biological mother, the fundamental responsibility to care for our child and produce a supply of breast milk, if any at all, is borne by us. This places additional stress when we’re hormonally vulnerable and susceptible to self-blame especially when we struggle to provide milk in what’s deemed as the right or natural way.
- Breastfeeding till the upteen month or switching to formula does not define whether you’re a “good mom” or not. Our bodies are built differently and we have to make the best choice for our child and yourself. You have absolute ability to display love and nurture your baby in many ways beyond this and they will love you back for it.
- Take comfort in knowing that your battle scars will heal; leaky breasts or bladder accidents will be a story you’ll look back and laugh about. Give yourself time to heal, nourish and strengthen. Don’t rush this process and break yourself because you have two to care for.
- You’re not alone in this journey. Confide in mother-friends who can commensurate on the grittier moments and seek support in good company. And for friends who know new moms, please take time to check in on how they’re doing.
- If you’re feeling more anxious than normal and constantly worry about the littlest detail, pause, and ask your spouse or friend if you’re displaying symptoms of postpartum anxiety or depression and seek help from trusted professionals.
I’ll end with a check-in exercise. Take an honest look at yourself in the mirror and think about one thing you’d accept about your physical self right now - just one because that’s how we start, with one small step - painful boobs, eyebags, no-make up, baggy clothing? What’s holding you back from letting go?
Every emotional and physical experience you’re facing now will pass. Keep moving forward, mama.