Becoming a mom is earth shattering. It doesn’t matter if it’s your first, third, or even sixth time bringing a new baby home, each time is scary, exciting, and tiring. Having had a baby before shouldn’t diminish the fact that each time you head home from the hospital it is a new experience. Every time is unique and different, just like our kids are. We talk SO much about new babies: what to expect, how big they are each week during pregnancy, baby showers galore, feeding tips, sleepy cues, daily then weekly then monthly visits to the pediatrician, new baby products out-the-wazoo — the list is never ending. Don’t get me wrong; all of these things (and more) regarding a brand new life are very important.
But, what about the brand new mom?
We must do better for the mamas. Oftentimes it is forgotten that when a baby is born, a mom is born too. It doesn’t matter if it isn’t her first baby; she becomes a new person each and every time. She has to in order to settle into the new normal of life. A mom needs support. It may not be the textbook support you imagine it to be and it may be a different kind of support with each baby, but support is crucial. It could be taking care of the older kids, doing laundry, bringing dinner, or it could just be giving her space and staying away for a few weeks. There is no normal; every baby and every mama have a vastly different experience and that should be respected.
It’s not about you; it’s about the new baby and mom.
That’s important. Even now that I’m a mom, I have to remind myself of this each time a friend has a baby. Make sure you ask before visiting, don’t expect an invite to the hospital, and for the love of all that is good and holy, WASH YOUR HANDS. Respect mom’s privacy. A human being literally just exited her body. She is tired. She is vulnerable. She’s probably trying to figure out breastfeeding. Take a step back and let her have a minute. Make sure you talk to dad and respect him because he’s new at all of this too.
We must do better for the mamas.
We need to let go of the idea that there is a ‘standard’ and a ‘normal’ to how things are after you have a baby. We need less stigma around mental health. Hormones are raging, lives are drastically changing, and everything is happening on a couple of hours of sleep each night. Worlds are spinning, but that doesn’t always get talked about. After having my daughter a few months ago, I had three postpartum visits within eight weeks. Three! This was much different than what happened with my son where I only got one visit at six weeks. Those two extra appointments made me feel heard, respected, and cared for. How wonderful would it be if more postpartum appointments and mental check-ins became a standard? Moms need to be heard, validated, supported, and sometimes pushed to take care of themselves. We see doctors so many times while we are pregnant, but most only get one visit after we have a baby. More postpartum visits could change the world!
We must do better for ourselves.
Mama, speak up when you have needs and make sure to voice your desires. Don’t hang your head in embarrassment and don’t silence your frustration. Become an advocate for yourself and see what you will be able do for others. Being a mom can be scary (let’s be honest, most of the time it is), but it doesn’t have to be. Reach out to your village when you need it and retreat to the safety of your home when you need it. We must do better for the mamas. We must do better for ourselves.