Worrying comes with the territory of parenthood.
When you become a mum the fears and anxiety are triggered by many different things. It could be other people, remarks they make, your own worries and things you read in books.
I am the world’s biggest worrier so becoming a mum just sent me into overdrive. But having had two babies, I would like to share with you the stuff I shouldn’t have worried about and neither should you:
1. Your weight
You just had a baby, you’re recovering from a major physical trauma and you’re trying to get your head round what you’re supposed to be doing with this crying little thing.
The last thing that should be on your to do list is snapping back into shape and pulling your pre-pregnancy jeans on. Seriously, the weight is not an issue. Your belly will shrink and the weight will go as you spend your days chasing round after your baby.
Your body may never go back to the way it was before. But who cares? This is the body that nurtured a baby, grew the baby and then delivered that baby safely into the world. Your body is amazing. Look after it, embrace it and remind yourself you are beautiful.
Anyone who makes any remarks about your tummy, baby weight and anything else related to what you look like is an idiot, wrong and needs to be ignored.
When it comes to the celebrity post-baby body headlines please ignore them. Remember these stories have zero context, celebs may be starving themselves to the point of being ill to get ready for a role and I’m afraid some people are just genetically inclined to shed weight overnight.
2. Getting it right
When it comes to babies there is no right. Unless you leave the baby naked outside overnight you’re doing the right thing.
Keep them fed and warm and give them lots of cuddles. Don’t let baby books tell you what you should be doing. You’re doing an amazing job. At the end of every day focus on two things that went well. These can be simple like baby fed without spitting up, baby smiled or you got out of the house.
3. Breastfeeding vs bottle feeding
I Googled breastfeeding statistics endlessly with my first baby as I felt so guilty that breastfeeding didn’t work out for us. I wanted to know how many women it really didn’t work out for and what happens to babies who don’t have breast milk in the first year.
When you panic and turn to Google, the only answers you get are likely to just upset you more.
Breastfeeding is great. If you can’t do it or don’t want to, that’s great too. Fed is best.
4. The state of the house
The dust does not matter, the pile of washing does not matter and the state of the living room does not matter.
When you look back on the early weeks with your baby, you won’t remember how lovely and clean you managed to keep the kitchen. You’ll remember the precious time you spent focusing on your child.
The health visitor frowned at me during my first baby’s nine-month check-up and said if she wasn’t saying three or more words by 12 months I would need a referral to a specialist.
I left feeling worried and downhearted. Fast forward to 18 months and my toddler was saying well over 100 words, could even hold simple conversations with us and was learning new words every single day.
The lesson I learned here was milestones are a guideline. They are not set in stone. Some babies crawl, some roll (like my first), some walk at nine months and some don’t walk until 18 months.
Of course you should always use your instincts and if you think something is wrong with your baby, then seek help.
But some babies take a few more weeks than others to tick off the box on the milestone chart. Use it as a gentle guide, not a manual.
6. Your baby’s weight
Yes weight is an excellent indicator of health in babies. You do need to keep an eye on it. But if your baby is particularly big, or particularly small, try not to panic.
I know plenty of kids that fall into both categories. They’re just as happy and lovely as the average kids. As grown-ups we come in all shapes and sizes. Babies are no different.
7. What other people think
When you make it out of the house it can be easy to assume everyone is judging you because the baby won’t stop crying, is covered in snot and has the morning’s breakfast on her top still.
Receiving filthy looks and tuts when you’re out in public can be really upsetting. But remember that you are doing nothing wrong, they’re the ones in the wrong for making a new parent feel bad about themselves when life is already difficult enough.
Give them a mental middle finger and ignore them.
8. Unsolicited advice
There’s nothing like a baby to bring out a lot of opinions. Everyone thinks they know best and everyone thinks they’re helping. But the fact is unsolicited advice can be patronising, inappropriate, outdated and confusing.
No one knows your baby better than you. Nod, smile and say “how interesting”, then change the subject. Do not let what others order you to do make you think that you’re doing anything wrong.
You’re the parent and it’s down to you to make the best decisions for your family.
9. Having piles of cute baby clothes
If you’re a few weeks in then you’ll know by now that your baby either vomits, poops or wees on their outfit at least once a day.
Having a baby is not like joining a fashion parade. It’s fine that you don’t have piles of designer clobber and little booties.
10. Going back to work
Most mums struggle with the dilemma of whether they return to work and if they do for how many days a week.
The fact is most couples need two incomes to survive these days. If you want to stay at home and have a career break, that’s great. If you’re desperate to get back full-time, that’s great too.
There is no right answer to this question. Your baby will be absolutely fine in childcare and actually there are loads of benefits to it.
I hope these points will alleviate some of your worries and set you on a path to feeling more content as a new mum. Is there anything else you have worried about since having a baby?