Parenthood is the hardest job. It's relentless, unpredictable, overwhelming, fantastic, exhausting! Everything that people tell you and more. I don't honestly think anything can prepare you for what it's really like in the early weeks of being new parents.
Many new parents will tell you it's the hardest job in the world! A mum that worked for the military,who came along to one of my mum & new baby courses, confessed to me that she actually found going to Afganistan for 4 months easier than the first 6 weeks of being a new mum! She said the sleep deprivation really knocked her, she felt exhausted all of the time and found breastfeeding so hard, it was relentless! Parenthood is the hardest job!
I remember that for me the first few days were a hazy blur; I found it such a steep learning curve, during the first few weeks after my son was born, I would often cry while feeding him, no-one had warned me that hormones can affect you in such an emotional way, there would be days when he would just scream bloody murder and I just didn't know why, he was fed, winded, changed, I couldn't understand why he was crying, I just wanted to be able to soothe and comfort him.It could be tough at times, but then some nights I would lay in bed with my baby next to me, he would be sleeping peacefully and I would think it was all worthwhile!
It can seem that babies change and grow so much, just as you feel you master one problem, they go through a growth spurt and everything goes out of the window! One mum told me she had read every book she could lay her hands on and listened to advice from every direction, prepared the baby's nursery with all recommended products, it looked beautiful. We were prepared, we were ready! Baby arrived and after the initial baby moon I came crashing down with a huge bump! She said after bringing baby home she thought 'now what'! Day & night lost all rhythm, she even found herself saying 'I can't do this' surrounded by a pile of washing and often opening the door of an empty fridge and the thought of what she could possibly make for dinner as the baby cried and cried desperate for cluster feeding!
There are times you feel like everyone else has it together except you! The amount of mums that say to me breastfeeding is so hard! You sit for what seems the hundredth time a day, sometimes for over an hour, trying to get baby to latch on and feed, you endure cracked nipples, swollen leaking boobs and a body you find hard to recognise in the early days.
Why is parenting the hardest job? Does it really need to be like this?
If we think back many years ago, probably to your parents era, families were raised in communities made up through family members, neighbours and other community support links. A wide array of people would look after new parents by shopping, cooking meals, cleaning, washing, offering advice, helping and supporting with all of your new babies needs. Most births happened at home surrounded by family. I remember my aunty giving birth to my youngest cousin at home while I played downstairs with my other cousins, my mum & nana were upstairs with the midwife supporting with her during the wonderful home-birth, as soon as she gave birth we all went upstairs to see the baby and the network of family support took shape.
Now we mostly give birth in hospitals (and most of us can't wait to get home), once home we are often on our own just with our partners and we don't know where to start. Family members don't live close by and you can feel lonely and isolated. Your partner may be lucky to have a few weeks paternity leave, but once they return to work you are left to your own devices, endless feeding, nappies and trying to get baby to sleep so you can just have 5 minutes to yourself.
In many countries they have a practice called 'The Confinement Period' where a new mum is looked after by close family or a small community of female supporters for usually 40 days, during this time the new mum rests and adjusts to life with a new baby while the housework, cooking, washing and support with the baby is all taken care of, giving the mum time to heal and recover, sounds perfect!
So does parenting have to be so hard?
Firstly I feel it's ok to ask for help, many 'to be parents' spend a great amount of time and money planning and preparing for the birth through antenatal courses, hypo birthing techniques or hiring a birthing doula to provide support and offer continuity of care before your birth.
So why not also plan good support for after you have given birth to your baby, on issues such as feeding routines (breast or formula), where you can find support to sleep, help with cooking, light housework, supporting gentle routines, easing parents into their new role. You don't need to feel overwhelmed as there are services to give you one-to-one support and to help you enjoy being a new parent!
Maternity nurses and postnatal doulas offer exceptional care and support and help to make the first few weeks or months of your new baby's life enjoyable. They will ensure that mum is well rested, supported and confident in her new role. I feel they both offer truly invaluable support at this important time.
About Me: Karen LANGSTON
Early years specialist, Infant massage therapist, Maternity Nurse, Breastfeeding Supporter and mum of two sons.
I set up my business 'Parents and Co' to support mums (parents) with new babies, as I had found being a new mum isolating, challenging and lonely. I felt what I really needed was to be with other mums, who had babies around the same age, and who may also be experiencing some of the same issues as me. I was desperate to get out of the house and chat and relax with mums going through being a new parent, so I took it upon myself to create Parents & Co's 'Mum & New Baby Group', which is a 5 week supportive course for new mums.
I am passionate about the importance of supporting new parents while they adapt to life with a baby. I offer new parents one-to-one support and guidance to help in the early weeks. I can come to your home after baby is born and stay with you for a few hours, or visit at a time that works for you. This support may be for a few days or a few weeks, I am flexible on offering an individual service to meet the specific needs of each family I work with.
If you would like to know more about my baby services please contact me: email@example.com.
In addition I have recently set up 'Bump & Baby Hub' a monthly pop up coffee morning with two colleagues Siobhan Smith (Birthing Doula) and Deborah Phethean (Infant Homeopath). We meet to discuss anything from pregnancy, birth and life with a new baby, and it is a free network support group for local parents in Bushey.