Dear new mums and mums-to-be,
The transition to motherhood is a significant time for you with loads of different emotions and high expectations.
In a society preoccupied with how best to bring up a child, it is good to find a balance between what is best for your baby and what is best for you as a mum. It’s likely you’ll be exhausted as well as stressed so it is really important you fit in some time for yourself. Also, don’t forget your new baby will feel even more vulnerable and confused than you are.
Learn to ask for the support you need on a regular basis without feeling a failure. You will realise that other people are happy to help and pleased you asked. You need time to rest and recharge your batteries. Spending short periods of time away from your baby can make you a better parent and your baby will learn to be confident with others.
For first-time parents, three new relationships will be formed like a triangle: mother-baby, father-baby and mother-father. There is bound to be an impact on you and your partner’s relationship so it’s important to be prepared. It’s normal to lose track when you’re in the flurry of new parenthood. Therefore it is essential you find time out together just to be yourselves, not parents, so no baby talk. It’s good for your relationship and consequently good for your baby.
On the subject of relationships, part of this transition may include re-visiting your own relationship with your mother after giving birth. Often this can result in changes in the relationship such as bringing mother and daughter closer together. However if the relationship gets stirred up in a less positive way for whatever reason, counselling can be very supportive and effective in helping to make sense of what is happening.
As a new mum your expectations of motherhood may not match reality. You know how to succeed in your job and you are probably used to having high expectations at work. When our children are the centre of our world it is easy to have high expectations. But they have their own emotions and characteristics and they will be different to yours, so by allowing yourself to have high expectations you may be adding to your stressful feelings.
The physical and emotional upheaval of caring for a baby is bound to have an impact, for example ‘baby blues’ – feeling low when you think you ought to be really happy. This is often a sign that you need some space to come to terms with being a mother and normally only lasts a few days but you will need support as you go through this time.
However if these feelings become worse and last for several weeks or more, you may be suffering from postnatal depression. Talk to your health visitor or GP about how you are feeling. The sooner it is diagnosed, the better the chance of a good recovery.
It is important to get to know other mums with babies the same age as yours as it is reassuring to be with others who are going through this incredible but sometimes lonely experience. There are plenty of baby and toddler groups in the East Surrey area and they are a great place to meet mums with children your child’s age, and your child can make new friends too. Have a look at the following websites for further details:
www.netmums.com, www.thefamilygrapevine.co.uk, www.nct.org.uk
Finally, in Dr Christiane Northrup’s book Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom, she recommends that each of us mothers must learn to mother ourselves. She believes that self-sacrifice is not a healthy path to motherhood even though we’ve been taught to do so for generations. So the best gift you can give yourself and those around you is the gift of caring for yourself during this unique transition.
With best wishes
P.S. If you have anything on your mind that you would like to talk through with me in a confidential and non-judgemental setting, please visit www.alisonhopkins.co.uk.
Alison Hopkins Counselling