I recently went to visit a friend who is in the final weeks of her first pregnancy. In fact her due date is identical to Baby P’s so I felt able to literally relate to the stage she is at.
As we nattered over a cuppa and watched little miss P explore her living room, we chatted about her apprehensions of labour, child birth and becoming a new mum. Something I noticed was how she’d been filled with scare stories and I began to ponder, why do we do that? Why as humans are we quick to offer the negativities of something? I attempted to quash her fears as I relayed my experiences and offered advice. She was nervous of having to be induced after being told it was the worst thing ever…well it wasn’t for me, it wasn’t that bad at all and yet I had been told the same from everyone bar one person. So I reiterated that too her, don’t get me wrong I was honest and explained that it was a long and tiring process but that it was also bearable, that I could cope and was able to manage the discomfort (I prefer not to say pain because I don’t think that’s the best way to describe labour and child birth) and that of course it’s totally worth it and over the minute baby is born.
However, as I’ve proceeded through my first year as a new mum, I’ve noticed that in general people are quicker to note the negatives of the next phase you are about to embark on. It would seem we want to highlight the difficulties of our babies weaning, learning to crawl or walk, the challenges of going back to work etc etc. And yet I’ve often got there and thought to myself that it isn’t as bad as people have made out.
Instead of pointing out the difficulties to me, I’d much prefer people to talk more positively and emphasise the positives whilst offering friendly tips and life hacks that may make the next stage easier. The same mum who eased my fears of induction has also offered some excellent little tips on how to make the whole morning before work routine easier, suggesting some simple things to buy or ways to juggle getting myself and P ready to leave the house. This has helped me prepare mentally and practically for balancing work and being a mum by acknowledging some of the challenges without making the whole thing seem like doom and gloom.
Just like the friend who offered realistic advice on breastfeeding in the first few cluster feeding weeks. She was honest and open but in a positive way rather than the, “oh my god it’s so difficult and hard work and not worth it” type comments many others gave.
I remember announcing my pregnancy joyfully and many people telling me how hard being a mum would be and yes it is but I went into it knowing that. Just like any other life choice I’ve made, it was given full thought and consideration of the pros and cons so why do people insist on suggesting to you that you’ve not contemplated the difficulties parenthood brings?
I guess what I’m tying to say is to go easier on mum’s, whether or not they’re a new mum or learning to juggle two or three kids as they add to their family unit. Give them friendly advice and support them in the next stage of their adventure, point out the challenges with tales of how you overcome it. Because I didn’t enjoy hearing a friend feel filled with fear and doubt about giving birth, I wanted her to feel prepared and excited. After all, having a child is one of the best things you can ever do it your life.
I’m suggesting we sugar coat things and make out parenthood (or any major life change for that matter) is an easy walk in the park but perhaps we need to be more tactful and positive in our approach, building each other up and using a more upbeat, can do tone, rather than a “do you know what you’re letting yourself in for” doubtful sentiment. Words of advice and positivity are far more helpful and build up confidence, enabling someone to go into something more well equipped and strong.