I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to write this post for you. I’ve been meaning to do it since day 1 of lying in that hospital bed, feeling like I’d been dropped out of an aeroplane at 10,000 feet into an unknown land, with nobody to tell me the way home. So here I am, almost 4 years later… ready to sit down and tell you all about Motherhood.
It’s funny because now, I interact with so many pregnant women on a weekly basis, and I see your innocence in their eyes. I see why nobody could really tell you what Motherhood would be like, because there is no way to tell somebody that they’re about to be kicked out of an aeroplane at 10,000 feet, especially when they’re pregnant.
And even when I do tell them, in words that sound more like: “Motherhood is like nothing you’ve ever imagined, you just can’t fathom the lack of sleep… etc”, they still look at me, the way you looked at others back then, the look that says “Yip, I know, I’ve been told a million times okay, I think I know that my life will change forever, I’ve got this, I’m prepared and I have a very supportive husband, Mother, sister, friend, I’ll be okay, I promise. I’m ready!” In this case, innocence is bliss…
Dear pregnant me, this is what I’d say:
I’d tell you that no matter how much hypnobirthing and envisioning you do before the birth… your birth may take a turn of it’s own. I’d really try and make you believe that you better be ready to accept that if a c-section is needed, it really is not the end of the world and you and your baby will not have any less of a bond. In fact, you’ll thrive.
I’d tell you that formula isn’t as bad as you think. It saves many babies lives, and many Mothers sanity. And both of those are just as important as the other. Yes, science has proven that breastmilk is the best food for babies, and I’m not saying it’s not, I’m saying that if breastfeeding is so hard for you that you cannot cope with day to day life, then DO NOT feel guilty for giving your baby formula. You should rather, feel PROUD that you are making an educated and informed choice as your baby’s Mother, and that’s nobody else’s business but yours.
I would also tell you that while you are pregnant, it would be an AMAZING idea to find a lactation consultant you are comfortable with and to have a session, even before your baby arrives. So that you know what the terms like let down, hind milk, engorgement, etc mean. So that you fully understand what it means to breastfeed your baby and you understand how often that will happen during the first few weeks, and that it’s all actually normal.
I’d also tell you that formula feeding is actually a lot more work than breastfeeding because it means using your brain to measure how many scoops you have to put into the bottle (that may seem easy now… but just wait oh pregnant self!), warming the water to the perfect temperature, washing and sterilising the bottles, making sure you never leave the house without all your formula feeding equipment. Breasts are filled with the perfect temperature milk, all the time, and do not require all the prep work or clean up after, which is beneficial for night time feeds.
Oh and on that note of night time feeds. I know you really believe your partner can do it. And the truth is, yes he can. Whether it’s expressed breastmilk or formula. But just know that when you hear your babies cry in the darkness of the night, and your partner takes one full minute longer than you do to make the bottle, your soul will actually shrivel up and die listening to your baby cry and you’ll be awake anyway and probably shout at your partner for taking too long and not caring for your baby as much as you do. Then you’ll feed baby anyway. Just so you know ;)
Then I’d also tell you that Google and Baby Centre and all these massive knowledge bases of information can actually make you feel completely overwhelmed and confused. When you have an issue with your baby and don’t know what to do. Do one of two things: Phone a Mom friend you trust. Or LISTEN TO YOUR INTUITION. That’s it. If your intuition is telling you to go to the hospital, go. Even if it’s not necessary, it will be a learning experience and next time you’ll have more confidence.
Pregnant Mama – you are a woman. You were biologically designed to create, birth and raise your baby – and with that comes INTUITION. Society may try and make you believe that you need to read all the books, do all the courses, follow all the influencers and do it like they do, but that’s not true. You have EVERYTHING you need inside of you to be the best Mom to your baby, you just need to trust yourself, pick up those shoulders, stand up straight and believe you can do it.
They say Motherhood is not for Pussies.
Well actually… it is. Motherhood is for Pussies and as the proud owner of one – you have what it takes to the be the person your baby looks to for comfort, safety, support, love and anything and everything else they require.
And remember, all the other Mothers out there, they know how you feel! They really do. Just talk to them, don’t pretend you’re okay when you’re not. It’s not a sign of weakness to say you’re struggling, but rather a sign of weakness to hide it, and it can be more dangerous for you and your baby if you don’t talk about it. I promise you, you’ll feel better when you do and be surprised at how supportive others will be.
Mama, you are strong.
You are enough, as you are. Be kinder and gentler to yourself and remember that every single day is progress and soon, you’ll look back on your pregnant days and go “Wow… I really didn’t know what I was getting into, did I! But I wouldn’t change it for the world.”