It can be very difficult to adjust to life with a newborn child... But the good news is IT GETS BETTER!
When I was pregnant I read every possible article on the subject of motherhood, and I was positive that I was ready. I almost felt overconfident like it was going to be a breeze. To be honest it didn't help that many of the mothers I talked to had forgotten how hard it is initially and just told me of the wonders of being a mother (which I get now that my little one is 7 months). Once a baby gets past the newborn stage, many mothers seem to forget what a shock it is for a new mom with all of these sudden changes!
Now that I am a mom, I try to make sure I vividly remember what it was like being a new mom so that I can offer REAL advice to women who are about to be moms for the first time. So I had this thought last night as I was laying in bed with my ear next to the monitor, making sure Baby P. was fast asleep, "What makes being a new mom soo difficult?"
Here are the things I thought of, that I'm sure many of you can relate to, which made being a new mom a bit of a culture shock.
1. Lack of Sleep.
For me, I was in labor 45 hours before I finally had to push, which I did for 3 hours... without a break. So I went at least 48 hours without sleep prior to Baby Picturesque even leaving the womb. Not to mention I wasn't sleeping the greatest at the end of my pregnancy anyway. Now take this new mom who has been many days without sleep, give her a baby who then is waking up all hours of the day/night... that makes adjustment to motherhood even more of a shock. But somehow our bodies can handle this and we learn to function (or at least survive).
2. A Noisy Hospital.
In spite of this, my husband and I slept as much as we could in the hospital... day and night. We tried to take the advice of others and sleep when baby slept. Yeah well, as many of you know if you gave birth in a hospital, getting sleep is easier said than done! We had nurses and doctors coming in all hours of the day and night and who loudly spoke in the hallway outside of our door. Needless to say, we slept very little in the hospital.
3. Breastfeeding Pain.
On top of all of this lack of sleep, I had breastfeeding pain. This was the biggest shock of all! Baby P. latched on right away, and was good at nursing from the get-go... but there was still a learning curve for both of us when came to breastfeeding. This is one thing I was absolutely not prepared for! Nursing hurt so bad! I put lanolin on constantly, but the truth of the matter is nursing hurts for about a month and then stops (over time your nipples get accustomed to it). Some nights, the only reason why I didn't give up was because the thought of getting out of bed and heating up a bottle was more exhausting than just dealing with the pain and nursing Baby P. in bed. Like I said though, eventually the pain goes away and this amazing bond forms. We have been nursing successfully now for over 7 months and I do not regret a moment of it! Now I enjoy every moment of nursing we have together.
Click here for a link to the La Leche League, which is a great group to help breastfeeding mothers. Also there are many breastfeeding support groups (that are closed groups, meaning you have to ask to become a member) on facebook, like Breast is Best. They can offer advice for any question/concern based on first hand experience. The website Kelly Mom is also very helpful, as it offers peer-reviewed/research oriented articles to help with practically every new mom's concerns.
4. Emotional Changes.
So unfortunately on top of this lack of sleep, and pain from breastfeeding, there's a wave of emotions that hit the new mother because her body is trying to get back to normal. But often women's bodies can't handle this wave of emotions. I personally went through some postpartum anxiety, which many new mothers go through. I went through anxiety attacks from feeling so alone in this new circumstance. Even though I had/have a very supportive husband and family, my emotions were all over the place. However, I turned to my faith and the Bible and that's what got me through. Thankfully, I did not have postpartum anxiety as bad as I could have... but it is important for every new mother to know that it is completely normal to have emotional changes in the postpartum stage. But please make sure to visit your doctor if you notice you are not acting like yourself, it is better to be safe than sorry!
Click here for a link to information about postpartum depression and anxiety.
5. No Alone Time.
As a new mother, you go from one day feeling/being as large as a whale with dreams of little angelic babies floating in your head... to the reality of the baby being here! It is exciting, it is different and it is scary! We are so used to having our independence prior to a baby, but once you have a child your life is never the same (Of course it is for the better). But this is part of the culture shock, you once had independence and now there is this creature fully dependent on you. It is wonderful, and beautiful, but it is a scary.
When Baby Picturesque was a few weeks old, I thankfully took the advice of my loved ones and started to try to enjoy every moment with her because I knew she would grow up so quickly. I'm very thankful I did, because children do grow quickly! It feels like it was just yesterday that Baby P and I were in the hospital... and now she is 7 months old! Life is different, it is difficult, but it is also wonderful at the same time! Having a child who loves you and looks to you for love, encouragement and support... it is such a beautiful thing. But I'm not going to lie to you and say that motherhood is easy, cause it's not. But when is there something in life, that is truly worth anything, that is easy?
So what would you add to this list? What have you found to be the biggest shock of being a new mother?