Becoming a mum is a life-changing experience that brings immense joy and love, but it can also be overwhelming and unpredictable. Despite the abundance of resources available, there are some things that are rarely talked about, yet every new mum wishes they knew before embarking on this beautiful journey!
So, grab a cup of tea, snuggle up with your little one, and let's dive in.
Breastfeeding is an incredible way to bond with your baby and provide them with the nourishment they need. While it may seem like a daunting task at first, there are some ways to make it a lot easier and turn it into a beautiful bonding experience.
- Find a comfy position: one of the most important things to keep in mind is to find a comfortable position for both you and your baby. This may take some trial and error, but once you find the position that works best for you both, it will make the experience much more enjoyable.
- Latch properly: it can take some patience and practice to make sure your baby is latching on properly. If you have any doubts, get some help from a lactation consultant.
- Sore nipples: sore nipples can happen from breastfeeding and make future feeds daunting. Sore nipples can be caused from incorrect latching or not allowing the nipples to dry properly. This can be easily remedied by adjusting the positioning or using nipple cream such as lanolin or nipple shields.
Above all else, don't be afraid to ask for help from a lactation consultant or a supportive friend or family member to help with your breastfeeding experience. Every little one is different and it can take some patience and perseverance to figure out what’s right for both of you.2. The Realities of Postpartum Recovery and the Physical Changes That May Happen
This one is a topic not often spoken about and can be super scary when you don’t know what’s normal and what’s not postpartum. From the constant bleeding to the leaky boobs, your body is going through some major changes post childbirth. But fear not, because we're here to shed some light on what to expect during this exciting (albeit uncomfortable) time.
- Vaginal bleeding: this is a normal part of postpartum recovery and can last for up to six weeks. On the first day after bub is born you may soak up to one sanitary pad each hour. Then, over the next few days the bleeding will slowly get less and change from bright red to brown and eventually a creamy colour.
- Swollen breasts: your breasts may become swollen, hard, and painful as they fill with milk. This can alleviate when breastfeeding starts and the pressure is released.
- Urinary incontinence: you may experience some leakage or difficulty controlling your bladder due to weakened pelvic floor muscles. This usually goes away after the first few weeks but for some women it can take months or you may find your pelvic floor never fully recovers. This is where a specialised womens physiotherapist will be your knight in shining armor.
- Perineal soreness: the area between the vagina and anus (perineum) may be sore, swollen, and bruised after childbirth. If you have an uncomplicated vaginal birth, this usually subsides within a few days to a few weeks. If you experience a first or second degree tear, this can heal in 2-3 weeks. And for third and fourth degree tears, the pain and soreness can last for a month or more.
- Haemorrhoids: these are common from the third trimester through to one month after birth due to the extra pressure and pushing during childbirth. Things to soften your stools can help and allow the haemorrhoids to heal quicker.
- Stretch marks: new stretch marks or existing stretch marks may become more noticeable after childbirth and start to fade six to 12 months after childbirth.
- Hair loss: you can experience hair loss or hair thinning postpartum, and it usually reaches its peak at four months after birth. Usually you’ll regain your normal hair growth when your baby turns one.
- Abdominal changes: your abdomen may still look and feel swollen after delivery, and it may take six weeks for your abdominal muscles and your uterus to return to their pre-pregnancy state.
3. How to Cope When You’re Sleep Deprived
Sleep deprivation and exhaustion are common challenges when you’re a new mum. Luckily, there are some ways to navigate this sleep-deprived time:
- Prioritise sleep: while it may seem impossible to get enough sleep with a new baby, it's important to prioritise and find rest when you can. Take naps during the day when your baby is sleeping or ask for help with night-time feedings so that you can get a few uninterrupted hours of sleep.
- Create a sleep-conducive environment: make your sleep environment as comfortable and soothing as possible. Invest in a comfortable mattress, use blackout curtains to block out light or a sleep mask, set your room to 18-20 degrees and use white or grey noise to drown out any distracting sounds.
- Establish a routine: your sleep signals are all over the place when you have a newborn, but establishing a routine can help signal to your body that it's time to sleep. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, and establish a relaxing bedtime routine that can help you wind down so you can fall asleep as quickly as possible.
- Take care of yourself: prioritising self care and taking care of yourself during this time is essential. Eat a healthy diet, stay hydrated, and do gentle movement to help refill your cup in other ways when you’re not getting enough sleep.
Ask for help: don't be afraid to ask for help from loved ones or professionals. Getting support can alleviate a tonne of the stress and exhaustion that comes with caring for a new baby.
4. The Importance of Building a Support Network
Trying to do everything by yourself can be super overwhelming and leave you feeling exhausted and lonely. Trust me, I've been there too.
But the good news is that building a support network can make all the difference. Not only can it provide you with emotional support when you're having a tough day, but it can also save you from losing your patience and give you a sense of belonging during a time that can feel isolating.
Now, I know building a support network can feel daunting, but it's actually easier than you might think!
- Call up your loved ones: don't be shy to ask for help, chances are they're dying to lend a hand but don't want to overstep. Whether it's cooking you a meal, watching the baby while you take a much-needed break, or helping out with household chores, your family and friends are there to support you.
- Join a new parent group: this is a great way to meet other mamas who are going through the same things as you. Plus, it's a chance to ask questions, share experiences, and feel like part of a community. Who knows, you might even make some lifelong friends!
- Seek professional support: there's no shame in asking for help from the pros. Whether you need a lactation consultant, postpartum doula, sleep consultant, or therapist, there are plenty of experts out there who can offer you guidance and support.
Use online resources: there are tons of online resources available to new mums, including Facebook groups and online forums full of real advice from experienced mamas, as well as other new mums looking to connect and build a community.
Just remember, building a support network takes time and effort, but it's totally worth it. By reaching out to others and building a community of support, you can navigate the challenges of postpartum life with more ease and grace.