Why did no-one tell you being a new mum would feel like you had a permanent hangover (without the party), you’d become obsessed with your baby’s poo, and think that 7am was a lie-in?
You probably feel like you’re the first person in the world to have a baby, that no-one else is going through what you’re dealing with. Once you bring your baby home you feel like a member of a secret club – but one you don’t know the rules for.
Susan Firth, chartered psychologist and British Psychological Society associate fellow explains: “Your perspective narrows when you become a mum firstly due to exhaustion, which reduces your interest in anything that’s not essential to caring for your baby. Emotional bonding is critical during the early weeks, so it’s your body’s protective mechanism to ensure this happens – by filtering out all the stuff that’s not important.”
“It’s an unspoken rule among experienced mums that you don’t scare pregnant mums with horror stories about birth or the early weeks. The result is that life with a newborn is nothing like you imagined. This is why new mums have this need to talk endlessly about their baby’s routine – to check they’re doing it right.”
Here are some of the crazy things new mums have said or done in those early ‘baby bubble’ weeks:
Christine: “I was feeding my son in bed, fell asleep and woke in complete panic as he was nowhere to be seen. My husband and I stripped the bed – no baby. Then we looked around and there he was, fast asleep in his cot. I didn’t even remember putting him in there.”
Jo: “I spent so much money on seeing a cranial osteopath for my daughter’s ‘sleep problem’. Actually she was just a newborn with colic, but I couldn’t see that then.”
Helen: “From a few weeks old I had a hectic baby activity schedule which included swimming, tumble tots, baby story time, and music. We were out all the time and totally exhausted. Why didn’t we just take it easy and go to the park and watch TV?”
Sarah: “I’m a health writer and embarrassed to remember I actually took my daughter to the doctor when she had her first cold. I was convinced she had something seriously wrong as she was refusing feeds. The doctor kindly explained this was perfectly normal in a baby with a cold.”
Maggie: “I was so obsessed with getting my son into a routine of day time naps that I would cancel any appointments or meetings with friends if they clashed with his nap times.”
Jane: “I was in permanent rocking mode with my first baby. One day I found myself standing in front of the veg selection at the supermarket, gently swaying and humming soothingly, but minus the baby I’d left at home with his dad!”
Sally: “I was terrified of leaving my new daughter alone even for five minutes, so I got into the habit of going to the loo with the door open so I could hear her if she cried. I’d regularly find myself still doing this even when we had visitors!”
Toni: “I was always a private person, but after my son was born I’d find myself in deep conversation about the colour, frequency, and consistency of his poo with other new mums I’d only just met!”
New motherhood is a shock for most of us, so it’s completely normal to say, think and do crazy things when you’re a new mum. You’re not alone, trust your instincts and keep going. Everything is temporary, it gets better.