I think it’s safe to say that all of us parents, at times or all the time, feel like we don’t know what the hell we are doing. You might be happy to know that this feeling - let’s call it quiet desperation, with a tinge of panic - is much more concentrated in the first years of parenting and for me now - well I hardly ever feel it at all.
Don’t get me wrong parenting older children has its own challenges but not like the ones that come from babies and pre-schoolers. So, as a mother of four children ranging from 12 through to 17 years old, I have some tips for you!
1. Parenting is scary and most* people are largely unprepared for it. Regardless of this you will always know what is best for your child. It’s called Mother’s Intuition and you just need to relax and tap into it. In my experience your gut feel is usually the right one, you just need to learn to hear it and follow what it is saying.
2. Breastfeeding – Yes, it’s natural but it’s a learned skill, it takes time to master. After the initial surprise of how hard it is to learn and how much it can hurt if you get it wrong, remember that each new baby has to learn the skill too, meaning breastfeeding can be challenging with each baby you have. I still had challenges breastfeeding my fourth child even though I had clocked up over three years of previous experience. Don’t let this put you off, just know that statistically most women are able to breastfeed, so if you are really committed and want to breastfeed it’s likely that you and your baby will be able to master it.
3. Crying – Babies cry - sometimes a lot and and sometimes often. You need to get used to it and although it’s natural to get upset by the crying try to remember that it’s not personal, your baby is just trying to communicate with you. Dr Terry Berry Brazelton, an American paediatrician, conducted studies that showed a normal healthy new-born baby can cry from anywhere between 30 minutes and 3 1⁄2 hours a day. Whoa! So, in those times when your baby is still crying although you have fed them, changed them, burped them, and they don’t seem sick or lethargic remember they may just be crying. So do your best, call in some support if you need. The crying will stop. It will be OK.
4. Sleep - Elusive sleep. Yours and your baby. My advice to you is to take sleep when you can get it. Forget all non-essential tasks like, cleaning and other housework. It’s ok to sleep when baby sleeps and make its ok to make it a priority. You will feel so much better and cope better if you try to spoil yourself with sleep. When will my baby sleep through the night? It will happen, but I can’t tell you when. So, don’t spend hours agonising over it and trying to interpret why baby woke three times that night, five times the night before but slept all the way through last night. Asking yourself questions like Was it what I ate?, How much they drank? How long they napped for? None of this matters! Start each day fresh, attend to your baby when they need you, and try to stick to a routine that suits you and your family and eventually it will happen. I promise.
NOTE: *With the exception of people who have completed Motherlifework’s online course “Becoming A Mother” the first 8 weeks.
Motherlifework's business involves training pregnant women for their motherhood journey, (not pregnancy or the labour journey). What is unique about our training is that it is focused on giving women an honest insight into what they can expect at home with a newborn baby.
The training we provide is partly based on research undertaken by interviewing mothers on what their biggest challenges were as first time mums. Asking them what did they wish they had known about babies and about parenting before they became parents.
We addressed this information by working through it and including the information we gathered as part of the course. Motherlifework are letting mothers-to-be into that sacred, secret territory of what motherhood is really like. No other (online) training that we know of does this - those women who complete our training never say “I wish someone had told me that” because that's what we are here to tell them!
Find out more at Motherlifework