Before I Had A Baby…
Most of us assume that new motherhood is the happiest time of a woman’s life. In reality, looking after a baby is full of ups and downs. Sure, becoming a mom is special, and every child is a gift. On the other hand, it’s normal to struggle.
Here are a few things I wish I’d known before having my first child:
Motherhood isn’t always blissful, and that’s OK. Babies are wonderful, but being a mom is tiring! Don’t worry –– most women feel the same way. You can be a great mom even if you don’t always love everything that comes with the role.
It’s fine to ask your loved ones to take over for a few hours. It’s normal to be relieved when someone offers to watch the baby for a while. All mothers need time alone to relax and focus on themselves.
Your marriage won’t be your first priority for a while. A new baby changes your lives, and it takes time to readjust. Focus on pulling together as a team. Don’t beat yourselves up if your life lacks romance for a few months. When the baby becomes more independent, you can work together to get your intimate life back on track.
Breastfeeding comes with lots of benefits, but it’s not always easy. Ask your midwife, paediatrician, or doula for advice. Your local hospital or clinic might run support groups where you can share tips and experiences with other new moms.
Parenting books are helpful, but reading too many is a recipe for disaster. It’s a good idea to read a couple of books to get an idea of what to expect when your baby arrives. Ask your midwife for recommendations. However, overloading yourself with information can make you feel inadequate and stressed, so don’t buy too many.
Postpartum depression is a serious condition that requires treatment. Around 10% of women experience depression in the year after they give birth. Note that this is not the same thing as the “baby blues,” which go away after a couple of weeks.
Symptoms of postpartum depression include feelings of sadness, a low mood, problems bonding with your baby, problems focusing, trouble making decisions, and having unwanted, frightening thoughts.
Get professional help if you are depressed. Ask your doctor for advice; they might recommend antidepressants or self-help techniques. Consulting a San Jose counseling therapist can help you get through this difficult time. Remember that depression or other mental illness doesn’t mean you are a “bad mother.”
We’re all individuals, and that applies to babies too! Your family and friends will have their own opinions on how you should raise your child. Trust your own judgment as a mother. You know your baby best. If you do ask someone for their advice, take what you like and leave the rest.
When you feel overwhelmed and sleep deprived, remind yourself that parenting gets easier. One day, your baby will sleep through the night, and eat on their own. When they learn to walk, you’ll no longer have to carry them around. When they learn to speak, you’ll no longer have to guess what they want.
Enjoy your baby. As the saying goes, they really do grow up too fast. The years will fly by, and suddenly your little baby will be a teen. Take lots of photos to capture those precious memories. You’ll treasure them forever.
About the author: Lia Huynh is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who serves the San Jose and Milpitas areas. She works with many mothers adjusting to their new role. This article comes from her own personal experience with post-partum depression and anxiety. Raising a child is hard work, but you don’t have to go through it alone. If you need help, feel free to reach out to her here. To find out more about individual counseling with Lia, click here.