Guest Blog: The truth about being a new mom
You know those beautiful photographs of stunning pregnant women draped in white sheer fabric, with their well manicured hands placed perfectly on their smooth round belly? They have that gorgeous, peaceful confident glow around them. Maternal love radiates from the photo and you almost buy into the idea that being pregnant is a blissful and wonderful transition.
Well… It is NOT!
The reality is that for most women, that photo is a lie! A beautiful and poetic lie… It is a made up, romantic scenario, a misguided expectation. But above all, it is a dis-service to women. It implies that we will and should, feel a certain way. But, that “way” is often unrealistic. For many of us pregnancy is not so “romantic”. Those photos are nothing more than “glamour shots”.
Instead, pregnancy is about physical and emotional changes, incredible body awareness, weird unexplainable bodily functions, including more farting than a truck driver filled with pulled pork and baked beans. We don’t feel glamorous and are often inundated with self-doubt. And that’s before we even give birth!
Next is the postpartum/newborn photo… It looks to be a perfect blend of peace, tranquility and beauty. The new mother is staring down at her perfect bundle in amazement. The professional photographer’s perfect lighting, creates an angelic glow over this sensational moment captured on film. She is rested, bonded and completely blissful….
No way! This is yet again… a lie! She is exhausted, worried, doubtful and emotional. Her nipples are cracked and bleeding and they feel like they might be ripped off at the next feeding, which is just moments away! She cries incessantly and often wonders if she has made a huge mistake.
The truth is feeling abnormal…. IS NORMAL!
Self doubt… IS NORMAL.
Exhaustion… IS NORMAL.
Worry… IS NORMAL.
YOU… ARE NORMAL!
We must stop comparing how we feel on the inside to how others look on the outside (or in this case, how people appear to look on the outside through a posed, airbrushed, wel-lit photograph). We will never measure up and we will always feel inadequate when we make this comparison.
As a society, the pressure we put on a new mom and the pressure she in turn, puts on herself, is tremendous. We must remember to nurture our selves and each other during pregnancy and in the early weeks of being home with a new baby. We must be patient with ourselves and allow ourselves to gradually learn to mother our babies. Surprisingly enough… for most of us this takes time. We must go into the process without expectations and without comparisons. And we must be judgment free, of ourselves AND each other!
So I ask that today, you take a minute, call a friend who is a new mom and tell her she is doing a great job at mothering her little one! You may be the only one who says it to her!
Randy (The Rock N’ Roll Doula) Patterson is the co-owner of Northeast Doulas. Randy began her career in the birthing world in 1997 at the birth cottage at Hudson Valley hospital. There she worked as a birth assistant (doula) and later cross trained as a peri-natal technician on the OB unit of the hospital. In 2003 she ventured onto her own path as a labor and postpartum doula. Randy’s passion is in helping women find strength and power in themselves through their birth experiences. Randy’s ability to meet the needs of her clients before, during and after birth, coupled with her ability to teach and guide the partner during labor, help make the birth of their child rewarding and satisfying to both new parents. Randy has been celebrating love and laughter for 23 years in her marriage to her soul mate, Jerry. Together, they nurture and mentor two amazing daughters Erica Bonnie, 20, and Tyler Jane, 17.