Feeling #Blessed When Life is A Mess
Tips for Setting Realistic Expectations of Motherhood
By Nicole Kekesi, Virtua Board-Certified Lactation Consultant
For the next few blog posts, I will collaborate with Ashley LaFrance, a local mom I have worked with in the past. Ashley is an experienced breastfeeding mother of two and healthy living advocate who strives to influence others to have a positive mindset in all aspects of life. Our focus will be the expectations – and realities – of a breastfeeding mother.
When my children were young, things like Facebook and Instagram were just hatching. There were no “influencers” or social media moms effortlessly showing us how to parent. Sure, there was pressure to be the best mom possible, but that feeling has intensified over time due to constant exposure to social media.
New mothers feel vulnerable when their reality does not mirror what they see online. You know what I mean: an Instagram post of a well-lit, blissful mom (with an effortless messy bun) breastfeeding her newborn – just before whipping up a homemade dinner in a spotless home. It’s maddening, right?! Where is the leaking, the engorgement, the pajamas covered in two-day-old spit-up? How do you reconcile your reality with what you see on the phone screen?
According to Ashley, “There truly is no preparing yourself for your first child. Your entire life changes. Running to Wawa, getting your nails done, going out to eat with friends – nothing is as easy as it was. I don’t say this to scare anyone, it’s just my truth. When my first child was an infant, I remember being on social media and seeing posts about people going out with baby, having fun on the beach, or going shopping with their newborn. Meanwhile, I was strapped to the couch for those first days with the baby on me 24/7! At times, it was hard to accept this reality. It caused me to be angry, it caused me to feel sorry for myself, and it caused me to feel very stressed. Add the lack of sleep and the post-partum hormones – it was the perfect storm for post-partum depression. “
What new mothers need to remember is that these posts are merely a snapshot into the bloggers and Instagrammers’ lives. They don’t post about the tough times, the messiness, or moments that are not hashtag-worthy. Beyond discussing breastfeeding issues, I encourage moms to embrace the changes in their lives.
“I didn’t accept breastfeeding for what is was in those early days. Having my world shrink to essentially the bedroom and the couch was very hard for me to accept at first. But like everything in motherhood, you learn, you roll with the punches, and you take new experiences as they come,” Ashley reported.
Motherhood is never as effortless as simple snapshots in others’ lives may appear. Do not compare your life, baby, or breastfeeding experience to anyone else. And remember that asking for help does not signify weakness.
Life, baby, and breastfeeding will never be 100% picture perfect and that’s what makes it memorable. Embrace the good, the bad, and #RealLife.
Updated February 4, 2020