When I was pregnant with my first newborn, I didn’t understand why people talked about the newborn period being so hard .
I mean, it’s not like newborn babies are crawling around get into things or arguing with you about which colouring cup they want. They feed, they sleep, and they poop. How hard could it be?
Then I had my first newborn — and the world turned upside down.
Having a newborn is so much more than merely snuggling with your sweet-smelling baby. There’s the childbirth recovery, the hormone surges, the engorged breasts leaking all over the place, the crying( yours and the baby’s ), and the sleep deprivation — OMG, the sleep deprivation . It’s used as a form of torture for a reason.
There’s also the weighty realization that this tiny person’s life is literally in your hands, and you have no real notion what you’re doing. It’s all-consuming.
Three mommies recorded their first weeks home with their newborns — and nothing was held back.
Cortney, Melissa, and Dorian all had babies this year. Melissa had her second infant( she also had a toddler at the time ), and Cortney and Dorian were first-time moms. They each use home security cameras to candidly document the first few postpartum weeks and shared a little bit about what life has been like with a newborn.
One mom slowly eased her just-gave-birth body onto the couch and told, “Aw, f* ck.” Yep. I remember that feeling. And the audio of those newborn calls is enough to make any mom’s intestine clench with impression.
Of course, there is an indescribable beauty and magical to newborn babies. If someone could figure out how to bottle that baby-head smelling, they’d be billionaires. There’s nothing softer or silkier than baby skin, and sometimes all you want to do is just sit and stare at their perfect faces.
But that’s only a fraction of the tale in those early weeks.
These mamas shared what surprised them about having a newborns, and it’s a powerful reminder of how hard it genuinely can be.
“Having a newborn is not what I expected, ” Cortney tells me. “I knew it would be tiring, but I didn’t realise how exhausted I would be. It’s literally a 24/7 chore with no breaks.”
Dorian reiterates how exhausting that period can be. “The main thing that astonished me was how serious exhaustion could be, ” she says. “Especially in the first 2 week. It felt like sheer willpower to put one foot in front of the other and keep going because I was so tired.”
Sleep deprivation is no joke, I’m telling you. And when you add “recovering from childbirth” to the mix, it’s a miracle new mamas function at all.
“I wish people understood how difficult it is, ” Melissa tells. “Being pregnant, giving birth, and the aftermath is a lot. Not merely do you have to figure out how to meet the needs of a baby, but “youre feeling” worn out.”
New moms require support, and that begins with acknowledging how hard they’re running and how valuable that work is.
Did you know that the U.S. is the only developed nation that doesn’t ensure paid maternity leave for new moms? The only one . Nada. Zip. Zilch. Meanwhile, 36 nations offer at the least a year of paid leave for mothers, and dozens more offer, at minimum, 14 weeks.
Paid maternity leave following the birth of a first infant appears to have positive benefits on women’s mental health. Yet the United States is one of only a handful of countries that does not require companies to offer paid maternity leave. #MaternalHealthAwarenessWeek pic.twitter.com/ P9s6Moe1eI
— HarvardPublicHealth (@ HarvardChanSPH) May 11, 2018
If we want our citizenry to be healthy and productive, we need to acknowledge that new mothers require time to recover from childbirth, tend to the needs of their newborns, and adjust to a huge life change. New motherhood is hard — awesome and amazing, but hard. Let’s all do what we can to support new mamas as they adjust to their unexpectedly upside-down worlds.
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