We all know that being a mum is totally amazing, but totally bloody terrifying in equal measure. Rachel Tompkins looks at the ten things that terrify new mums…
No matter how much you’re looking forward to the arrival of your firstborn (or second, or third, or fourth…) you wouldn’t be human if you weren’t completely and utterly terrified about the birth itself. But now you’ve got the hard bit of the way, you’ve got nothing to worry about right? If only that were the case...
1. I’m responsible for another life
This fear sounds absolutely ridiculous, until you actually bring your newborn home from hospital, place the baby seat on the living room floor, and realise the enormity of the situation. You are now in charge of another human life. A human who can’t walk, talk, or fend for themselves in any way. How’s that for completely and utterly bloody terrifying? There’s usually a double-wave of this once partner goes back to work after paternity leave. Because then, it’s all down to you! Thankfully, mother’s instinct usually kicks in and somehow we muddle our way through. And if it really does get too much there’s always your midwife or health visitor at the end of the phone if you need them.
2. Is my baby still breathing?
Your tiny newborn is lying asleep in the Moses basket. It looks so peaceful, so vulnerable, and so still. Too still in fact. A wave of panic hits as you wonder if it’s actually breathing. You peer in closer, and closer to check. Then, heart racing, you touch the baby - and it promptly starts crying!
Getting used to your newborn’s breathing can take a while but if you want even more peace of mind when they eventually move into their own room, an Angelcare baby monitor also has a movement detector which sounds an alarm if you baby doesn’t move for a certain amount of time. Sends some parents potty but gives others that extra peace of mind.
3. Will my baby ever sleep through the night?
You’re tired, you’re sleep-deprived, and consequently you’re obsessed with sleep. Or lack of it. Social currency among your new mum mates is baby sleep, and whether you’ve got lucky, or unlucky with your nocturnal wakings. No matter what the books say you and your baby should be doing, remember that all of us our different, and all our babies are too. But ask yourself one question: Have you met many fifteen year olds who don’t sleep through the night? Exactly! Every child will get there in the end, and hopefully it’ll be a damn sight sooner than that.
4. What if my baby chokes?
Weaning - you never realise how terrifying it is until you actually sit your precious little cherub in a highchair and are faced with the prospect of letting them put something solid in their mouth! Even the steeliest among us will be fighting back that inner voice which is screaming, ‘what if he/she chokes?’ That little piece of banana you watch them bring to their lips might as well be a stick of rock* thanks to the inner terror it provokes!
Current NHS advice is that your baby should be ready for weaning from about six months. Key things to look out for are that they can sit up in a highchair, they can pick something up and put it into their mouth, and they can swallow it rather than just pushing it back out with their tongue. And they do have an amazing gag reflex so don’t be alarmed if they naturally bring back up bits they can’t manage sometimes.
(*NB Never give a baby a stick of rock).
5. Will my body stay like this forever?
Your baby might be on the outside now, but your tummy still looks like it’s on the inside. Your boobs are enormous, veiny, milk-making machines, and you can’t even face checking out your down-below bits in the mirror.
You’re not the first new mum to be scared to death that their body will never be the same again. It’s only natural when we spend half our lives trying to look our best. As corny/patronising as it sounds, don’t worry. Nature has an amazing way of helping your body get back to how it was before. Don’t get me wrong, if you were 5ft tall and a size 12 before, no amount of breastfeeding and walking will transform your figure into Kate Moss’s, but if you’ve got realistic goals you’ll get there. Many mums find that breastfeeding helps their stomach contract and it definitely burns lots of calories, others do lots of walking with the buggy. Try to take one day at a time and not expect miracles. Soon your baby will be big, your boobs will be back to normal, and you’ll be wondering what you were worrying about.
6. Will I make any new mum mates?
You’ve got lots of amazing mates, but none of them are off work having a baby when you are. Cue your new mum mates! A lot of people sign up to NCT classes to meet like-minded mums in their area. If you didn’t do that, all is not lost! You’re guaranteed to meet other mums at baby groups, and even just doing things like pushing your child on the swing in the park. Having a child will provide an instant talking point, plus guess what? There’s a fantastic app out there for this very purpose called Mush! Perfect for multi-tasking with a glass of wine. Speaking of which...
7. Will a glass of wine damage my baby?
For some mums (new and old) it’s the only thing that gets them through the day/week/month. So the thought of not being able to drink now you’ve got a newborn can be a scary prospect. If you’re not breastfeeding, drinking responsibly (using a plastic glass in the garden is responsible right?) is fine, but if you’re breastfeeding the current NHS advice is that an occasional drink is unlikely to harm your baby. Getting dressed in the morning is an occasion isn’t it?
8. Will having sex ever be the same again?
You’ve not long pushed a baby out of those bits, now you’re trying to get your head around letting something, or someone, come near them again! Some people jump straight back on the horse so to speak, for others there’s that oh-so-slight issue of tearing/stitches/bleeding/exhaustion putting a dampener on things. Chances are you won’t be alone in not fancying it straight away, but once any tearing and/or stiches have healed, there’s no reason why sex won’t be exactly the same as before. Apart from that little person in the Moses basket watching – it really does bring a whole new meaning to the word ‘threesome’.
9. I don’t want to be a baby bore
That moment when a Timehop pops up on your Facebook profile and you realise that all you ever post/talk/write/think about, is your baby! Before becoming a mum, you were an actual person in their own right. You were fun, had friends, went out drinking after work and talked about lots of different things. Now, you seem to talk about one thing and one thing only – your precious offspring! It’s almost impossible not to. I used to make a concerted efforted not to talk about babies with my non-mum friends so as not to totally bore their socks off. But your friends with children will be in the same boat, chances are, rather than being bored by it, they’ll revel in the chance of having a sounding board too.
10. I don’t want my baby to grow up
Whether you fell pregnant quickly and easily, or waited years for your precious arrival, it’s always emotional when you realise your baby is growing up. Obviously they’re doing that from the moment they pop out, but it’s the little milestones that hammer it home. Like packing away their newborn clothes when they’ve outgrown them, moving them from their Moses basket into a cot, and changing the buggy from the carrycot to the upright seat. For me, these milestones will never stop being emotional. Of course you can’t make time stand still, but as your child does grow you realise that you grow with it, and with the sadness of the old phases passing, some exciting new ones come in their place.