The joys and surprises a new baby brings might be endless, but for first-time moms, the arrival of a new tot could also signal many adjustments and challenges. We asked doctors, child therapists and other medical experts about the common hurdles new and first-time mothers often encounter and the strategies for handling each one. Pooling with the answers, we came up with a list of five along with solutions to help you cope up with each one.
1. Breastfeeding Struggles
“Many believe that nursing comes naturally for mothers,” said one gynecologist. “In reality, it isn’t. It takes time to get used to, and it really can be painful for novices. Also, the breastfeeding experience for every new mom is different. Some have babies who latch on quite quickly; others might find it difficult at first. Some moms have an abundance of breast milk; others might not.”
According to Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, “Breastfeeding facilitates bonding between mother and baby. There is a well-accepted extra closeness that breastfeeding mothers experience that is both hormonal and emotional in nature.” She adds, “The only disadvantages for the baby in breastfeeding occur when things are not going well, for example, if there’s an inadequate supply of breast milk.”
All the experts we talked to agreed that moms do feel the pressure of breastfeeding from other family members, from friends, even from the doctors themselves.
“While we encourage breastfeeding, it’s best that the new or expecting mother put the breast milk-versus-infant-formula debate in perspective. If you’re breastfeeding but feels uncomfortable about doing so then, stop as it isn’t just frustrating you, you’re also affecting your baby,” said another doctor.
Solutions: If you’re struggling with breastfeeding,
– You can always seek the help of a lactation consultant or a nursing mother friend. Ask her to come over and see if you’re doing things right. She might have some practical tips on her sleeve that could help lessen your breastfeeding frustrations.
– Also, give yourself a month of breastfeeding trial. If it doesn’t work within that period, then go to your healthcare provider or gynecologist for infant formula advice.
2. Overwhelming Adjustments Could Make You And Your Spouse Or Partner At Odds Against Each Other
“If you’re both first-time parents, chances are you’ll be at each other’s throats during your baby’s first year,” one doctor said with a laugh. “So, for those who think a new baby will bond you and your partner closer, they’re in for quite a shock.”
The women might think they’re doing the child-rearing all by themselves, that they’re on mom duties twenty-four-seven. The men, on the other hand, feel pressured to be more productive at work considering that now they have another human being relying on them.
Solutions: Know that the first year of your baby’s arrival, the atmosphere in your home could be anything but romantic. After all, it’s a time rife with adjustments. Additionally, if you feel you’re work overloaded with all the taking care of the baby and other household chores, talk it out with your partner or husband. He’s not a clairvoyant to guess what your feelings are and why you’re feeling that way.
“Reach a compromise. Ask your husband or partner to make dinners or do the laundry once or twice a week or take over baby duties for a few hours at night so you can get some much-needed sleep,” one therapist suggested.
3. Fat Problems
You go into these social media sites and are bombarded with pictures of celebrities – Kim Kardashian, Gisele Bündchen or some other Victoria’s Secret model – looking oh-so slim and sexy after just a few months of giving birth. Then, you take a look at your post-baby body and feel insecurities eat your heart out. Many women aren’t back to pre-pregnancy weight six weeks after having a baby. It takes time.”
Newsflash, it takes at least a year for your post-baby body to come back, and that’s for most – NOT ALL – women. Yvette LaCoursiere, MD, proves this point, “Many women aren’t back to pre-pregnancy weight six weeks after having a baby. It takes time.”
“Giving birth will change your body, you have to accept that and know that you signed up for that the moment you planned your pregnancy,” stressed out one doctor. “You can get your pre-baby weight back, but you’ll notice you have stretch marks, you’re hips are a bit wider than before, you’ve got varicose veins – these things are normal. Bearing and birthing a child does come with war wounds.”
Solutions: Don’t wallow in your insecurities or plan a vigorous workout immediately right after giving birth. “Those extra paddings are there for a purpose,” said the experts. “Exercise moderately and don’t strain yourself out. A good start is walking with your baby in the stroller.”
Besides, your husband might not notice all your extra bulges and child birthing wounds. “Reconnection is more important than a whopping post-baby body,” said one counselor.
4. Work Dilemmas
Some moms have difficulty deciding whether to get back to work or not. For one, they might miss their work, their job structures, and their work relations. However, they also feel guilty for not giving their 100% attention to their new baby.
Solutions: If you’re one of these moms, experts agree that it would be best if you try to reach out to other moms who faced or are facing similar dilemmas as you are. Furthermore, give your choice a time-limit.
“If it isn’t working out, don’t strain yourself with standing by your decision. Talk with your husband or partner about your change of mind,” said one family counselor.
Finally, consider asking your employer for flexible work time, do part-time, or you can even telecommute and try working at home. There are a lot of possibilities now that technology is quite advanced.
5. Be The Perfect Mom
Moms think that they have to be perfect in everything – look good, have an immaculately clean child and maintain a spotless, mess-free house all at the same time. But this isn’t possible. In fact, experts said the “perfect mom” is a myth. Alexandra Sacks, M.D. says “Everyone wants to be a perfect mom because they don’t want to mess up.” But there’s a big problem with seeking perfectionism: it’s completely unattainable.”
Solutions: “Allow yourself to be the good-enough mother,” said one of the experts we asked. “Your house might be messy, but your baby’s well-fed and you’ve had a power nap to get you going through your nightly mommy duties. You also don’t have to be on your feet every time your little one’s fussy or crying. Babies cry for no apparent reason at all and allowing them to do so, as long as they’re not hungry, or anything could even benefit them.”
“There will always something others will notice about how you take care of the baby. Let them speak out their minds, thank them for the tips, pick the ones that are beneficial and the rest, just let them slide,” added another with a smile.