My second baby reaches the 8-week mark this week and I can't believe how much faster it's gone this time round.
Although I feel a bit guilty saying this, I'm enjoying having a baby so much more this time round.
Why? Because I have more experience. I have more confidence. But the main difference this time is that I'm not so hard on myself and I'm not comparing myself to anyone else.
And, well I felt a little sad for that first-time mum me, who didn't allow herself the time or space to just be and who worried she was doing things wrong.
So I wrote this letter to her and I wanted to share it with any other mums feeling the pressure.
Dear first-time mum me,
You don't need to rush to get back to normal. Rest is good. Netflix while breastfeeding is good. Reading while breastfeeding is good. When feeding at night don't go on social media or even your phone, it will only make it harder for you to get back to sleep.
Kindles are amazing to read while feeding. As is watching your baby feed. Enjoying the present moment, thinking how special it is... just as your baby writhes and lets out a massive fart!
Asking for or accepting help are signs of strength not weakness. It doesn't mean that you can't cope or that you're not good enough or that you're failing in anyway. You don't need to do everything. Friends and family making or bringing meals is pretty much the greatest gift they can give.
Don't compare yourself to anyone, or your baby to any other babies. Remember that there's no such thing as a good baby, because there's no such thing as a bad baby. There are just babies who are in pain - whether it's colic or wind or teething pain - babies who need something - milk, sleep, a nappy change. They only cry to tell you something.
Trust your instincts, listen to advice but filter it. Yes you haven't had a baby before but youve known your baby for 9 months, that's more than anyone else. You know what's best.
Don't let anyone else's judgement bring you down. Some subjects - feeding and sleep - incite strong opinions but again, you know what's best for you and your baby. Don't wear yourself down in order to do what other people think you should do. Your health and happiness is so important, especially now.
Enjoy your days - do classes that are good for you too, mum and baby yoga for example. Or go to cafes and eat cake - don't not do things because you're scared your baby will cry. All babies cry.
See people and other mums who make you feel good. Make sure you have a good network of friends around you. Try and get out every day especially when you feel sad. But don't feel you have to do things and don't keep doing things you don't enjoy. Don't spend so long going to that playgroup where the mum's are cliquey and unfriendly...you know the one.
Don't wait to take your baby to see a cranial osteopath - go early, believe me it helps.
Have 15 minutes for yourself (at least) a day, whether that's to shower, write in your journal, put make up on or read. Make a deal with your partner - you both get at least 15 mins a day to do something for yourselves.
Take photos of your baby but maybe not too many as they'll just sit on your laptop, and then you'll feel bad that you haven't printed them off.
And most of all remember everything is a phase. Motherhood is a constant transition. You'll have easy and more difficult times. But you should feel proud of yourself and what you've achieved at the end of each and every day.
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