Becoming a new mother (or parent for that matter) can be one of simultaneously the most amazing, scary, rewarding, intimidating things that ever happens to you. Of course, some take everything in their stride and don’t blink an eyelid.
As an expectant mother it’s hard to know what to expect. You never know exactly how you’re going to feel, if you will cope as well as you thought or if anything you expected even matters.
Instead of our scheduled post, I wanted to speak to new mothers about what most surprised them about motherhood and find out what some of you guys discovered when you became a mum, that you just were not expecting!
The answers we got were amazing, insightful and showed that although there are some common experiences for many when becoming a new mum (no matter where we live in the world), a lot of experiences are totally different. That’s a great thing to remember if you ever start comparing yourself… no two babies or experiences are ever exactly alike!
“What surprised me most about motherhood? From the lack of hours in the day to a laundry pile
that resembles Mount Everest, it might be quicker to write a about what didn't surprise me about becoming a mum. The pleasant surprises are things you hear about but never really process until you hold your baby for the first time, a massive rush of contentment and love washes over you like a tidal wave of relief that answers all the anxieties you faced during pregnancy; Will I love them? Will I be a good mum? What do I do with a baby?
The first (and most pleasant surprise) is that a newborn baby sleeps all the time. As a dog owner a baby felt easier than looking after a puppy. These are the months you convince yourself that you are an excellent mother. Laundry is pressed, folded, housework is done and baby is pristine. 1950's housewives eat your heart out!
Unfortunately these are also the months you lure yourself into thinking, you got this... enter next surprise... baby grows and so do its needs! Little tiny infants have big demands. The territory is always shifting, don't get comfortable, ever! Everyday is a surprise, a new need, a new development or a new disaster. So put on your big girl pants and buckle up, you're in for an awesome ride.”
- Laura Reed, mother of two boys, living in Perth, Australia.
“I didn’t expect the second night of a baby’s life, when the baby just wants to feed constantly and literally doesn’t allow you to sleep a wink as they try to get your milk to come in.
I was surprised at the sheer amount of time you spend trying to get a tired baby to sleep. And the more tired they are, the harder they are to get to sleep! Who knew?
I didn’t know the physical toll that carrying and delivering a child would have on my body. Six months post birth, I’m still facing aches and pains that I’ve never known before and regularly seeing a physio, despite staying active during my pregnancy.
But my biggest surprise was that, along with the overwhelming love that you feel, comes this innate, irrational fear of anything happening to your baby, or even to you as you know how much your baby depends on you. News stories about awful things happening to other families suddenly become intensely personal as you put yourself in their position. I think that, because of this, motherhood has surprised me by making me a more empathetic person, which can only be a good thing.”
- Rhianna Roper, mother of a baby boy, New Zealand.
“At first I was in a lot of pain from the birth and that together with sleep deprivation, made the first week very hard going, but as the pain is easing off, and I’m learning baby’s Rhythms; it’s becoming much easier to enjoy being a mum.
I had every intention of breastfeeding my daughter exclusively, but for several reasons I had to switch to bottle feeding at 5 days old... which was a big change. I was gutted but also relieved. After a week I tried to put her back to the breast but she wouldn’t latch, so I’ve spent the last 2 weeks trying to coax her back to breastfeeding. And now she is taking both! So things are changing all the time!”
- Natty Myra - mother of a baby girl, UK
“Teething is such a rubbish time, nothing prepares you for that... You feel so helpless, there is nothing you can do for them and you know they have to go through it.
It’s amazing how resilient they are though, one minute they have a raging temp all snug on the sofa, next minute playing away as if we're all mad and what was the fuss all about!
- Lois Angelino - mother of four - Uk
“The realisation that it’s relentless!!”
- Lizzie Trudgeon - mother of a baby boy - Nigeria
“The first question people always ask first time mum's is how is motherhood... And the response is one which cannot be encapsulated in one word or phrase. However if I was forced to choose one word, I would choose life changing (which imagine is a word many women use).
Life changing because, for me, I could never have prepared myself for the love i would feel for my daughter and those first precious moments when she first arrived into this world.
I have tried to explain to friends how I felt the moment she was placed in my arms and all I have been able to come up with was utter joy and an overwhelming sense of love.
so what has surprised me most about motherhood? There are many things but the sheer roller coaster of emotions you feel and it is both, the most amazing privilege and experience but in equal measure, the most challenging. I went from tears of exhaustion to tears of love in the blink of an eye.
I am lucky to live in times where women can, in theory, have it all. There is one aspect of modern motherhood that can be overwhelming and unconsciously pressurise young mothers ... What i call.. Motherhood according to social media. Don't get me wrong social media can be a wonderful thing and a source of comfort and support for mothers but I feel it can often have the opposite effect. These pictures show glossy hair mothers who have been lucky enough to snap back into their jeans at the same time as baking and cooking delicious, healthy clean food whilst having a child who sleeps at the drop of a hat and doesn't ever seen to cry. Yes, I am intelligent enough to understand that this is just a snapshot of someone's life but at the same time, when I am tired and emotional… the insecurities can creep in and you start the dreaded comparisons. I suppose I was not prepared for the feeling that you are constantly trying to keep on top of things - be the best mum you can be - continue to build a career, lose weight and look like you did when you had a full nights sleep and an abundance of time amongst other things.
However when I "catch myself on" (Northern Irish term) and look at my daughter I realise that carrying extra weight, not being as fashionable or as glamorous as I once was is a small price to pay for the privilege of being a mother, remembering those whose dream to become a mother may be a difficult one of one that may never happen.”
- Ruth Edwards - mother of a baby girl, Northern Ireland
“How all consuming timewise a little person really is!
How much more determined and ambitious becoming a mother has made me feel... which doesn’t necessarily fit so well with the first one, ha.”
- Katherine Cunniffe - mother of a baby boy, UK