My 4 Wishes for New Moms
By Nicole Kekesi, Virtua Board-Certified Lactation Consultant
In my daily professional life, I work with many mothers. I see new moms, second- or third-time moms, energetic moms and tired moms. As different as these women are, they often share fear and stress that they’re doing something wrong. Breastfeeding, like all things in motherhood, can feel like a leap of faith without a safety net.
In my role, I guide, troubleshoot, and provide support. One-on-one is the best setting for intimate topics. But, if I could stand atop a mountain and reach all the mothers of the world with one message, here’s what I’d say:
Nothing in life, or breastfeeding, is perfect.
Sure, I sometimes tell my kids that THEIR mommy’s perfect (wink, wink). But we all know the truth: things seldom go as smoothly as you plan. Just because you had an iffy latch at first or needed time to work on your milk supply, that doesn’t make you any less of a mother. You may struggle with an undersupply, while the woman next to you is dealing with an oversupply.
My first wish…know that everyone struggles with something.
If life were perfect, it would get very boring.
Life, specifically when breastfeeding, can get messy. I’m talking about engorgement, leaking breasts, spitting-up babies, and dirty diapers. Not what you pictured when you were picking out baby names, right? It can take some time to figure things out, so give yourself that time.
As the days pass, the engorgement settles down, leaking and spit-up decrease, and dirty diapers…well, you get used to that.
My second wish…know that your opinion matters.
For some reason, people feel the need to chime in, comment on, or critique your mom skills, and it can be frustrating. I try to remember that, in most cases, these vocal folks have good intentions. People feel the need to connect, and giving advice is one way people make those connections. I tell every mom who comes into my office to have her imaginary noise machine on hand. People will invariably talk, but that doesn’t mean you have to listen. Instead, smile and listen to your own voice.
My third wish…while things feel hard and messy right now, know that you can handle this.
There’s no such thing as a supermom. I mean, don’t tell my children that, but we all know it’s true!
In the age of Instagram posts depicting flawless mothers with angelic babies out grocery shopping, lunching, and maybe rescuing a cat out of a tree, we tend to feel pressure to do it all. Your job in those first few weeks is to feed your baby, not save the world. Enjoy this time and always remember to ask for help when you need it. Sarah Michelle Gellar once said, “There’s no such thing as supermom. We just do the best we can.”
And, my fourth wish…remember that you are enough as you are.
Don’t play a hero. You are enough, and you’re everything your baby needs.
Updated December 11, 2018