Anyone who has been a parent knows that parenting really is a life changer. It is without a doubt the hardest job in the world. And it can be the most wonderful experience of your life. But those that are new to the life of parenting can be forgiven for feeling that the experience is anything but natural. No amount of advice or reading can prepare you for the true challenge of being a Mother.
Perhaps it is because you cannot imagine life as a parent in the same way as the actual experience? Or maybe it’s because you are so darn tired you don’t have time to process the experience? Life as a newby parent isn’t what you expect, and it doesn’t feel natural to lots of parents. After all, you’ve never done it before! Hospital births can make the first few hours of parenting feel even less natural. But there are plenty of parents who did it at home who can also feel out of their depth.
Nursing is another part of motherhood that can feel less natural than you hoped. You may have bought all the cushions and rocking chairs you saw in the catalogue. You might even have the most expensive nursing bra in the store. But if your little one struggles with breastfeeding, there is little you can do to make that experience feel more natural. It can become stressful, unpleasant and even painful. And that can be heartbreaking for all of you.
Bonding with your little one is tricky too. Their responses are limited as a newborn. You can’t really tell if they’re happy, afraid, or loving. And with all those hormones wreaking havoc inside you, you can be forgiven for not knowing what you’re feeling either. It takes time to get to know a person, so give yourself the time to bond with Baby. Skin-to-skin and breastfeeding may be a part of supporting that. But if you can’t do those things it won’t mean you can’t bond with your son or daughter.
Postnatal depression is a very real and very difficult thing to deal with. It is common, though, which means there is a lot of support out there and nothing to be ashamed of. But even if motherhood doesn’t come naturally to you it doesn’t mean you have depression or that you won’t ease into it eventually. Watching other mothers and believing they are supermums that are better than you won’t help. It’s not true for a start. Every mother will have their moments of struggle and feeling like the job is beyond them.
So why doesn’t motherhood always feel natural? Women have so many different roles throughout their lives. Sometimes it’s tricky to know which hat you’re wearing. You’re a career woman, a partner, a friend, a sister, a daughter, and a mum. But you’re also just you. You’ve been each of those roles a lot longer than being a mum. And the role of mum will change with every phase of your child’s development. Sure it’s going to be tough, but you hold the key to making this relationship your best.