Nobody Tells You…
Becca Maberly, pregnancy and postnatal expert and author of “Nobody Tells You”, has created a secret mum club where all the helpful, honest advice about pregnancy, birth and parenthood is kept. On season 1 of my podcast I chatted with Becca about “A Mother Place”, her business that brings information on everything that motherhood brings. In this blog post, you can read information about the three key areas that Becca and I chatted about.
The most common things that nobody tells you about the birthing process is that lots of people think you get to choose how you get birth: but nobody tells you that Mother Nature, luck, genetics and other factors affect how you give birth. There are so many women out there who spend so much time and energy creating a perfect birth plan, laminating them and illustrating them, only to be disappointed when things don’t go the way that they planned. Women can feel like a failure if they feel things didn’t go the way they planned but, in fact, it’s the one thing you can never control. In London at the moment, 1 in 3 ladies are having a baby via c-section and this is something women should be aware of. Birth preferences are a much more healthy way of approaching birth so that, if your preference doesn’t happen, you have other ideas and realistic expectations about how birth can unfold.
Sanitary towels and big pants!
Another thing nobody tells you about birth is that you’re going to be wearing a smelly sanitary towel and a huge pair of pants for up to 6 weeks after birth. It isn’t comfortable, it can feel really unpleasant and a lot of women might not be used to this or even aware of. It’s nothing to be ashamed about, but it is really helpful to know this happens before your birth. If you are going to be wearing pants for 24 hours a day make sure you get comfortable big pants! You can buy the mother of all pants right here – they might be ugly but they let everything breathe whilst you’re healing.
You can get piles during pregnancy from constipation and, when you’re pushing, you can get piles after birth when they push out of your bottom during labour or they can even develop during breastfeeding from dehydration. This is really common – they’re itchy and sore – make sure you see your GP or get some cream from the pharmacy and try to keep the area dry and clean.
One thing nobody tells you about breastfeeding is that it isn’t always easy and it doesn’t always come naturally. Because it is a natural thing there’s an expectation we can all do it – sometimes baby can’t latch on, tongue tie is an issue, you may have issues with your milk supply, mastitis, cracked nipples – it can be a huge shock to new mums who expect to stick baby to boob and it works. It’s really important to know that there is free help out there if you’re really struggling with breastfeeding because it can be hard but it can work. If it’s so hard that it’s starting to affect relationships and your mental health, it can be an idea to bring in a bottle or mixed feeding. Formula is not the devil’s work! Give yourself a breather if you need to. A big misconception is that everyone can breastfeed naturally – it’s just not true.
As a new parent you’ll get lots of different advice from healthcare professionals and it can be really hard to know where you are at and make your own decisions or trust your own judgement. The amount of advice out there can be hugely overwhelming and you do find that everyone has an opinion. Of course, if a baby is putting on weight and appears to be feeding but baby is still not sleeping and you feel like you can’t carry on, it can be heartbreaking and very tricky if healthcare professionals simply tell you “just keep going”. Ask for support. Ask around. There are people around to help you, even if you get a few hours sleep; do keep asking until you find the right person.
The Fourth Trimester
One huge thing that nobody tells you about the fourth trimester is that you may not fall in love with your baby straight away and that’s ok and nothing to be ashamed of. Attachment and bonds can develop over time and deep emotional connections are not always made straight away. Lots of new mums are gooey and emotional with newborns, but an awful lot of us are not like that, too, yet people don’t always talk about that. That, combined with having a difficult birth, sleep deprivation and not being able to breastfeed, can really lead to falling in love with a little human being take slightly longer then you might have been led to believe. This can lead to feelings of shame but it is ok, however if that feeling lasted for a longer time speaking to somebody might be really helpful and beneficial for you.
Mental health struggles in the fourth trimester are often really linked to sleep deprivation and this is often expected and you’re told “it’s normal not to sleep with a baby”, but one thing you’re not often told is the affect on your mental health or even on your relationship. Lots of women see the romantic picture of a man and woman holding a newborn baby but the reality is not like this at all! Often you’re covered in bodily fluids, your relationship is strained in those first few weeks and months, you’re figuring things out together with a demanding new humans and you’re both exhausted. It’s so normal to simply try and get through it – yet nobody really talks about the arguing, fighting, tears and this doesn’t mean your relationship is over it just means you’re figuring out a new phase of your life together with a baby.
Remember the mantra: everything is a phase and please do seek support if you feel you need it.
To learn more about Becca’s work, do check out her website here.