Sunday, 23 October 2011

On Motherhood: The Myths

So you've just brought your newborn baby home.Your motherly instincts have kicked in and you know exactly what she needs. You recognise her cries. You spend hours looking into her eyes, feel fulfilled. In short, this is the best time of your life... right?


If you are like 80% of women, you are suffering (or have suffered) from the baby blues and if you are really unlucky, you have Postnatal depression (10% of women). In other words, you are feeling overwhelmed, sleep deprived, anxious, perhaps depressed, and you may even be regretting ever having a baby. Your time is no longer yours but dictated by your baby's needs, you have become an expert at taking 2.5 minute long showers and you can't even go to the toilet on your own (Admit it!)
And lets not even mention the guilt when you do have those thoughts of sending your little bundle of joy back!

So how come no one ever told you about this? How come you got bombarded with images of happy mummies, gazing into the eyes of their baby for hours on end (when all you want to do is go back to bed), and how come all the 'experienced' mothers told you about how much they would "love to have another baby"! and "how lucky you are"?

Long answer.

But in short: when your family and friends (and sometimes strangers) are telling you how wonderful this time of your life is meant to be, what else can you say but... "oh it is... hubby and I can't wait to have another one!"

Don't get me wrong. Having a baby IS an amazing experience! But society has supported a number of myths about motherhood, which frankly are not at all useful. But you will no doubt hear them mentioned by well meaning relatives and friends. And what do you say when aunty Joy suggests you may want to eat more fatty foods to increase your milk production?
Here are a number of common myths about motherhood, as well as some more realistic beliefs you may find useful:

Myth: "Motherhood is a woman's ultimate fulfillment" or "Being a mother is the best experience you will EVER have"

The truth: Motherhood is a difficult, but rewarding job, that involves working long hours with little respite.

Myth: A mother instantly feels love for her baby.

In reality: A mother may feel love for her baby as soon as it is born but this “falling in love” is more likely to occur over time as she gets to know her baby. It may take you days, weeks or even months before you bond with your baby. It is all right.

Myth: Expressing your own needs makes you a selfish mother.

Actually: A mother must express her own needs. You need to nurture yourself to be able to nurture your family.

Myth: Breastfeeding comes naturally.

Any mum who has breastfed (or tried to), knows that: Whilste breastfeeding is natural, it does not come naturally. It is something both your baby and you are going to have to learn to do together.

Myth: A mother can automatically interpret her baby's cries.

Sure! (note sarcasm!). With time, you will learn to interpret most of your baby's cries. You are allowed to make mistakes while you learn.

Myth: Your instincts will ensure you know how to mother.
Let's be clear: Instincts can be very useful. However, a woman has to learn to be a mother and this takes time and practice.

In short, Motherhood is indeed fulfilling but it may also be the hardest time of your life. You will survive it. After all, you are neither the first nor the last. However, approaching it with a more balanced and realistic perspective will hopefully soften the blow.

Funny thing is... one day, you too will look back at this time in your life with fondness and will tell the next generation how it was... "the best time of your life...


  1. Love it Anna! Great honest post that rings so true!

  2. ;-). I think more mothers need to get out there and say it how it is. I think women are less likely to feel overwhelmed if they have a realistic view of motherhood rather than the one portrayed by the media.

  3. I love this. Sounds just like something I would say! Thanks.


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