I walked (waddled!) into first time motherhood naively. I’d read all the books, I’d taken the NCT classes, I felt prepared, ready, excited.
It turns out that there is nothing in life that opens your eyes quite like the first 4 weeks as a mother. It is the biggest, steepest and most rewarding learning curve of your life. And I’m afraid, even with the many, many books I turned to, there was no manual.
THE NEW NORMAL
Everything changes; your perspective, your priorities, your plans for a shower! It’s like being thrown into a new job at the deep end. I was sent home, 48 hours after major surgery, with a box of painkillers and a baby! In hindsight, it was crazy! But you know what; you have no choice. I had to feed him, change him, hold him – he was (and always will be) my whole world. I had to survive that time when, quite frankly, I didn’t know my backside from my elbow. And in doing that I learnt that I was an amazing Mum simply for using my instinct. Because it got us through that crazy first month.
Don’t get me wrong, my books offered a bit of advice but there was SO much no one tells you; the amount of bleeding and constant fear you’re leaking a bloodbath when you finally brave going out, the pain your nipples withstand when you first try to feed, and the hormones. Oh my God the hormones. I look back and it frightens me that I didn’t know who I was some days; I was running on that survival instinct. This little baby needed me, and I had to plough through even when I was weeping whilst trying to have a shower, trying to ignore the fact that it resembled a murder scene and that I was imminently going to hear those words “I think he’s hungry” when you just want five minutes.
I remember such a mixture of emotions, particularly in the first few weeks of becoming a mum. There was such a shift in so many areas of my life. Having Josh totally put everything in my life in perspective. It was also the world’s steepest learning curve; there were tears, frustration and sleep deprivation. Don’t get me wrong, there was a lot of joy too; a lot of love. When you have a baby you suddenly experience a love you didn’t know existed. This is overwhelming in itself. Combine that with boulder boobs and unhinged hormones, particularly when your milk comes in, and it can be hard to fathom what you should focus on.
I have had blue days, which I think is completely normal for someone who’s just given birth and if I am being completely honest, I think I lost my confidence a bit. And it’s a bit stupid that I have because I know I should be really proud of myself. But I needed somewhere to turn to, advice, someone to say “we went through that you will be fine”. It’s hard enough accepting your body isn’t your own anymore and that your boobs are now at the beck and call of a hungry baby who couldn’t give two figs if you want to have a couple of minutes shut eye.
MY POST BABY BODY AND WELLBEING
I barely recognised myself for a good couple of months after having Josh; my boobs were insane, my once flat and toned stomach was all soft, squidgy and being attacked nightly with injections following my C-Section, and of course a bit of abdominal surgery will leave a bit (!) of a scar that can take some adjusting too. I almost had days where I resented it and it could make me think quite irrationally at times; wondering when I’d ever feel like me again. We’re inundated with photos of celebrities who “snap back”. What we forget is that they have dedicated dieticians, nutritionists, personal trainers and stylists. What I had was my husband doing his best to make sure I ate properly and who managed to get me out of the house after a week for a walk which I was personally terrified about! I just wanted to sleep whenever I got the opportunity (which I did do and it helped me far more than any Kale smoothie would have done)!
Your wellbeing as a Mother is paramount during this transition into Motherhood. It can be such an overwhelming time and support is essential. I was fortunate I got plenty of support from family and friends and it gave me a bit of a confidence boost when I had moments of major self-doubt. And a bonus now, is that we’re in a generation where the support and advice you can get online is unprecedented.
BEPANTHEN’S 10th MONTH CAMPAIGN
When I heard about Bepanthen’s online platform, http://www.10thmonth.co.uk/ I knew immediately this would be a Godsend for new Mothers. Of course, we all know and love Bepanthen for its world renowned nappy care ointments, a staple product for any new baby as it is breathable, protective and gentle. These little babies have the most delicate skin especially on their little bottoms so a soothed bum before bedtime is only going to help with the prospect of a bit more sleep that night! And now Bepanthen is looking at relieving and reassuring us Mama’s too with their incredible new campaign. The main priority for the website is to reach out to Mothers in the “10th month”; a time when everyone’s focus tends to be on the new arrival, and rightly so to an extent, but also a time where a Mother can be somewhat overlooked. You’ve gone through nine months of pregnancy, with people looking out for you, fussing over you and having the simple joy of random strangers smiling at you as you proudly rock your bump on a visit to Tesco. All of a sudden you are somewhat forgotten. And this is not a time to be forgotten. It is a crucial time for a new Mum; your world is no longer just you but this new little baby who is utterly dependent on you. And this can raise the question, who can you depend upon? Of course, we all have family, friends and the midwives to turn to. But sometimes you almost need an external source of support and that’s where Bepathen’s 10thmonth.co.uk comes in.
The 10th Month campaign is something I personally feel so passionate about. I had days where I felt I was drowning and you want to hear someone say “don’t worry, that happened to me too, I felt that way too, I cried every day for a week in the shower too”. As new Mums we are inundated with advice and information on the new baby, and this can leave you with an element of “what about us”. Our wellbeing and emotional stability is so important; Happy Mummy equals Happy Baby. I couldn’t believe how quickly and drastically my life changed when Josh arrived. There are so many aspects of change to get your head around; eating with one hand whilst nursing, showering in supersonic time even though you’re losing blood and praying your stitches or scar won’t burst open (they won’t, I promise), all whilst surviving on 3 hours sleep at a time. You are utterly responsible to this baby; he or she writes the rules and it can be incredibly difficult to get your head around the fact that a 3 day old dictates your life.
The key thing here – YOU ARE NOT ALONE! In any aspect; every single one of us has gone through those struggles. Wondered how the hell we’re going to cope, cried for an hour at nothing (my husband took me shopping a week or so after I had Josh and I just got to the shop, burst in to tears and demanded to go home – yes, I cried at the prospect of clothes shopping)! So to have a campaign such as 10th month, where you can go online, read a fellow new Mums story and realise that you are going through the same emotions, both dealing with insane changes to your body, or just wondering how to muster up the motivation to change out of your pyjamas, is so important. Because we’re all going through it. Practical advice (returning to taking that first post birth shower – no one discusses it and yet it can be so scary – this is one article I wish every woman would read), emotional support and even advice on relationships, which of course can take a real test with sleep deprivation and hormones thrown into the mix, is all there on the site..
Because Bepanthen and the 10th Month is here for you.
Because you’re not alone.
Because you are going through the biggest change of your entire life.
Because we understand how scary, overwhelming, and daunting it can be.
I’ve always wanted to do whatever I can to support new Mums. I want to reassure others. So being a part of this campaign is a massive honour. Because what you’re achieving, one day at a time, as a new Mum is something that should be celebrated, respected and supported. Focus on baby AND you – everything else can wait.
This post was written in association with Bepanthen but all experiences, opinions and thoughts are my own.