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As if being a new mum isn’t hard enough, there’s a whole heap of stories we are told from the moment those two lines appear on the pregnancy test. The advice flows in (even if you don’t ask for it) but there are also a lot of myths about being a new mum that you’ll be told as well.
Some people like to make out that motherhood is the most magical time of your life and everything is perfect. Others prefer to be on the other end of the spectrum and tell you that your life is pretty much doomed from the moment your offspring enters the world.
Most new mums fall somewhere between these two on the spectrum (with the occasional swing either way). But incase you’re wondering, these are some of the biggest myths about being a new mum.
1 – You’ll Never Sleep Again
Sure, your sleep patterns are bound to change, but let’s be realistic. Sleeping in pregnancy isn’t exactly a treat either! Yes, your baby will wake during the night (at the very least for the first few months) and maybe you’ll get one of those happy and excitable children who still wake during the night 4 years later (hands up…!!) but it’s honestly not that bad.
So many people expect their babies to sleep through the night and work around their schedule, but that’s just not how it works. I barely sleep through the night as an adult, without being woken by my son, let alone expecting him to do it with his little mind racing, full of all the new things he is learning.
Adapt your expectations and you’ll find you’ll be less frustrated with the changing sleep patterns. Sleep during the day when you can, get your husband to take charge for an hour to two so you can catch up on some well deserved zzzz’s.
2 – You Can Kiss Your Social Life Goodbye
This is one of those myths where it’s as true as you allow it to be. While there are going to be those few friends who you don’t see quite as much anymore, they’re probably not the greatest of friends anyway. Sure, you’re not going to be out partying on a Friday night like you may have been previously but it doesn’t mean your social life is completely gone.
If you’re finding your social life is diminishing, schedule in some time with friends. Even if it’s dinner or a coffee. Being social is still really important as a new mum, having people to talk to and have real adult conversations with is good for your mental health too!
3 – Your Vagina Is Going To Be Ruined
I was terrified of this one! I had so many people tell me that my vagina was never going to be the same again and it was just going to be destroyed. First of all, that’s a pretty alarming thing to tell a woman, second of all, every woman is totally different and every birth is totally different.
For the record, things tend to go back to fairly normal reasonably quickly after birth. While it’s a scary sight in the first few weeks (hey, you’ve just been through something that is the equivalent to a major trauma) and you can expect some bruising and swelling, the body is pretty darn good at healing itself.
4 – You’re Pretty Much A Slave To A Child
Again, this is one of those myths that is as true as you allow it to be. While there are times when I do feel like my life is being completely run by a tiny 3ft tall dictator, at the end of the day I’m the one who makes the call. Setting boundaries early helps, but in the same breath, pick your battles.
Does it really matter that your child is leaving crumbs all over the floor when they are actually quietly and peacefully eating their dinner? Nope! Sweep it up when they are done.
5 – You’ll Never Have Alone Time With Your Husband Again
While you most likely won’t be going out for dinner alone 3 times a week and sleeping in on a lazy Sunday morning together, completely alone, you can still make the most of the alone time you do get.
Rather than mindlessly watching TV after the baby has gone to bed, turn the TV off and have a mini date night at home and talk to each other. Get dressed up if you want, light some candles and just be ‘alone’ together. Once your baby is a little older, you can even arrange a babysitter for a few hours so you can go out with your husband on a date again, just the two of you!
It’s all about making the most of the opportunities that present themselves instead of telling yourself you never get alone time with your husband.
6 – It Will Take You 3 Hours Just To Leave The House
I always thought I was doing something wrong because leaving the house with a baby never seemed like a big chore. I had a nappy bag with the basics packed (nappies, change of clothes, wipes etc) and I never felt like I needed to dress my baby up to go out. So all it took really was me changing into my least vomit stained clothes and running a brush through my hair and we were off.
Be prepared. A quick feed and change of your baby before you head out will mean you’re not stressing about feeding them while you’re out, but if you’re going somewhere where feeding and changing will be easy then don’t make a big chore of it if you don’t have to. Do what works for you!
7 – You’ll Fall In Love With Your Baby Straight Away
This was a difficult reality to face, and one that I was so glad to find out I wasn’t alone in later. You may not fall in love with your baby from the moment you meet them. There may not be these magical sparks that fly, you might feel more empty than anything else. And this is perfectly normal!
This doesn’t mean you have Postnatal Depression, this doesn’t make you a bad mum and this doesn’t mean you’ve made a big mistake. It just means you’re human.
I had 10 minutes with my son before he was whisked away for tests and surgery. 10 minutes. During that time I was still being tended to by an obstetrician, had around 14 other people in the room, my son was struggling a little and needed extra stimulation and I wasn’t allowed to feed him. Hardly the magical moments we all dream about as new mums.
I loved him, oh my gosh I loved him. From the moment I found out I was pregnant I was all ‘mumma fierce’ but I didn’t get those sparks until a few months later. We were in survival mode for the first few months, which was just how we needed to be. But it comes, those sparks flew (and still do) and you know what? It was in the moments that I was up with him at night when we bonded the most…
8 – You’ll Love Being a Mum
For some women this is completely true and that’s wonderful. But the reality is, it’s not the same for all women. You don’t get a trial run at being a mum, it’s not something you can just ‘test out’ and see if it works for you. There are moments when everyone says to themselves ‘oh shit, this is crazy’ or even ‘oh shit, what have I done’. Again, this is completely normal.
And if you’re one of the women who finds that motherhood just isn’t what it was cracked up to be, that’s okay too. It doesn’t mean you love your children any less, it doesn’t mean you’re a bad mum, and it doesn’t mean we are going to judge you in anyway at all. It’s a tough gig, you need support too!
9 – You Need To Do It The ‘Right’ Way
If I had a dollar for every time someone offered me advice about the ‘right’ way to parent, I’d have a whole lot of dollars. Guess what? There is no ‘right’ way. Which is pretty liberating and terrifying at the same time.
Let me just clarify though, there are safe ways to do things, such as you know, actually putting your child in an appropriate restraint in the car and installing the car seat correctly. And when it comes to safety, yes there are a few things that fall into the ‘right way’ category. But as for general day to day parenting, the right way is the way that works for you.
I was always told that by nursing my son to sleep I was going to ruin him, that he would never be able to go to sleep on his own and that I was allowing him to form bad habits. I freaking loved that time with him. Loved the feeling of him falling asleep in my arms. Love, love, loved it.
Thankfully I ignored all the people who were negative about it because it was some of the best bonding time with my son, who by the way, by 18 months old was asking me if he could go to bed and would put himself to sleep without hassle.
10 – Once You’re A Mum, You’ll Just Know
Crap, this is the biggest myth of all. You’ll just know. You’ll have that mother instinct. What??
Yes, there are some things that you will know and be sure of, like when your child is sick and you have people telling you they look fine or they look normal but to you they don’t. That’s important – that isn’t just instinct but also observation because you know your child best.
But as for everything else, this isn’t the Matrix, you don’t get to download a new program when you’re a mum that means you’ll just know. Don’t expect to know how to be a mum as soon as it happens, it just doesn’t work like that. Read books, read articles (like this one, yay!) and ask questions. Relying on the whole ‘you’ll just know’ is only going to lead to frustration.
11 – You Won’t Brush Your Hair Or Even Wear Make-Up
Wait… you mean I’m supposed to do that stuff all the time before I become a mum? Haha. No.
Again, this comes down to what is important to you. If you like wearing makeup, then wear makeup. You can easily get your makeup done while still entertaining your baby – there are tons of gadgets out there to bounce, rock and swing your baby into happiness.
Or if you have a baby that refuses to be put down, invest in a baby carrier or wrap. These things are genius and free up both your hands to style your hair and allow you to rock your eyeliner (pft, I can barely draw a line at the best of times let alone attempting to draw one on my face).
12 – You’ll Be Part Of The Unspoken ‘Mum Club’
This is one of those clubs that is so unspoken it seems like it doesn’t even exist. There’s no initiation ceremony or moment when you become a mum where these ‘mum clubs’ magically appear.
As much as I would love to tell you that you’ll get the knowing look from mothers as your baby cries while you walk through the supermarket, or you’ll get offers from other mothers to help you when you’re trying to wrangle a wriggling baby who just pooped everywhere mid nappy change, these seem to be few and far between. And if you’re reading this, maybe you can make a conscious effort to be that mother who does help others – because gosh knows there’s times we need it.
But the reality is you’re more than likely going to get a judging look from mothers during those situations. If you’re lucky you’ll get the occasional knowing nod and it will probably make you want to burst into tears because someone gets it. But if you don’t and if you do get those judging looks, just smile and quietly tell them where to go under your breath. Or out loud if you’d prefer. You’ve got this.
13 – You’ll Make Tons Of Mum Friends
For an extrovert, I tend to be fairly anti-social, and apparently meeting new mum friends requires some level of social interaction. Who knew? Making mum friends isn’t as easy as you’d think. If you have friends already who are mums, fantastic. You’ve got people who understand where you’re at and love you and support you already. Woohoo.
But if you’re the first of your friends to have a baby, you might find the whole experience quite isolating. Your friends will complain to you about how tired they are and you’ll probably just laugh at them. And while these friends are still awesome to have, it’s also nice to have some people who just ‘get it’.
Most towns have mum groups you can join and chat with other women, you just have to take the initiative to go and look for them. I’ve also found mother’s groups on Facebook to be a tremendous amount of support.
I’m in one particular group that was started as a ‘due in’ group, where we were all pregnant and due in the same month. Almost 5 years later we are all in that same group and we have been through so much together. It truly is an amazing group, even if I’ve never met any of them in real life.
14 – You Have To Give Up Your Career
Honestly, going back to work after having a baby is tough, but you don’t have to give up your career. Unfortunately our society hasn’t kept up with its demands of women. It kind of expects us to become mothers and keep working our careers and thrive in both aspects. It’s bloody tough.
Depending on your career choice, some things might change. For me, I couldn’t go back to work full-time. I’m a Paramedic and I work shift work and on call, my husband is also a Paramedic and has the same requirements. There’s no 24 hour daycare in our area and a nanny wasn’t affordable for us. So I had to return part time. It’s tough, I felt like I was missing so much because I love my job. But I also was grateful I didn’t have to give it up entirely.
Talk to your employer about what is going to work for you and know your return to work rights. Some organisations, like the one I work for, have a return to work policy for new mothers that allows more flexibility in their work hours. Know where you stand and if your career is important to you, make it work.
15 – You’ll Never Have Time Alone Again
Oh boulderdash. So not true. In fact, I believe as mothers we are more in tune with our need for time alone and are more inclined to make it happen. Talk to your husband about what you need and make sure he gets alone time too. Everyone needs time to themselves to be able to recharge and function properly.
If for you that means a day to yourself where you can go shopping, go sit at a cafe or just sleep, then that is awesome. If you just need a few hours that works too.
I have even taken entire weekends away and booked myself into a hotel to focus on my business work entirely on my own. You’ll have as much alone time as you make possible.
What other myths have you heard about being a new mum? What did you find to be true or completely off the scale?