My days are spent working with parents – in pregnancy and during those early years of parenthood. Due to the informal nature of my sessions and, I hope also due to a little bit of skill, mums are able to confide in me, they open up about how they are feeling about a range of issues.
Mums tell me about their births and any struggles or issues with feeding, sleep and being a mum who is juggling a range of responsibilities. They tell me about feeling exhausted, about feeling low, about not enjoying their baby as much as they ‘should’.
I see women who are having a bad day or a bad week or it could just be a bad hour, they might be just knackered or they might be struggling with their reality because it could be so different from their expectations. Conversations about birth, feeding and having an unsettled baby are highly emotive and can often come with an undercurrent of failure – a birth that didn’t go to plan or that was tougher than expected; a mum who supplements feeding with bottles, or who chooses to/needs to bottle-feed; a mum whose baby is struggling to settle, who seems to need more than she can sometimes give; a mum who is struggling to enjoy her baby and only wishes for some sleep.
Mums can think they are failing or have failed but all they want is the very best for their children. The mums I see are loving, caring, responsive, instinctive, nurturing and kind and they can be too tough on themselves.
Birth can be tough, it doesn’t always go to plan and it is almost never easy and the same can be said for babies. Feeding can be complicated, sleep can be non existent and the responsibility of looking after a new baby can seem too much at times. You may have been able to push a little human out of your body or you may have needed major surgery to birth your baby – neither are the mark of a failure. And babies can range from the ridiculously easy to the tremendously challenging – they communicate by crying and finding a solution is largely down to guesswork.
You have not failed, you are not failing. Please remember that.
a specialist in pregnancy, birth and early parenting