Guest: Guest or The Guest may refer to: A person who is given hospitality.
Today on my blog I have the pleasure of hosting the first ever guest post!! It is written by the lovely Stephanie, who is a brilliantly talented writer and storyteller! You can follow her on Twitter @Storybramble and her fantastic blog can be found at
Stephanie is a trained actor, qualified drama teacher and mother of two. She is passionate about reading, writing and telling stories and created Storybramble as a resource for other parents who feel the same way. Over at Storybramble Stephanie posts a new audio story or poem for children to listen to each week with ideas for creative activities to go with it. She also blogs about all things story related including stories she is reading with her own children and ideas for how to make storytelling a part of your family’s life.
So, without further ado here is her brilliant guest post…please visit her blog and show her some love!
Ten Stories I wish I had been told about being a new mum
I am a big fan of stories. I believe they can transform, teach and even heal us. Stories are powerful creatures that are everywhere. When pregnant you become a magnet for stories. Birth stories, sleepless night stories, breast feeding stories are passed on aplenty. I vividly recall being wide eye with terror at some of the tales I heard when I was pregnant with my first child as a wave of horror birth stories came crawling out of the wood work. Episiotomy? Why did no one tell me before I had a baby inside me that needed to come out?!
Then that baby does come out. And I found, as you so often do, that the stories you heard about motherhood don’t always match up to the reality. So, as I am a big believer in all things magical, I decided to imagine what I would say if I had the power to go back and talk to my new mum self. What stories would I want the younger me to hear? And this is what I came up with:
1. It is ok to have pain relief when giving birth
I was lucky enough to attend NCT classes when I was pregnant with my first baby. They were a great source of information on pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding and a great way to meet other new mums to be. Natural was held up as the ideal when it came to giving birth and I had a lovely natural birth story all worked out in my head. Which was great, until I actually went into labour.
It was a story of complications, my son was back to back and not keen on coming out. It was a story of other worldly pain which I fought for longer than I should have before relenting and asking for an injection of pethidine. Within half an hour the labour stopped being a struggle and my son was born. The pethidine had affected him however making him too sleepy to feed properly and I was hit with my first does of motherhood guilt. I found I couldn’t enjoy the first precious days with my son because I was consumed with a sense of having already failed him as a mother. It wasn’t until I had my second baby naturally that I realised how different each birth is. The story I wish I had heard is this:
Birth is an individual experience, it’s great to aim for a natural birth but sometimes that’s just not possible. If you find you need pain relief that is ok, the goal of labour is not to create the perfect birth story, the goal is to give birth to a healthy baby so do what you need to do and don’t worry.
2. Breastfeeding is natural but does not always come naturally
I knew I wanted to breastfeed and felt confident of my ability to do it. My health visitor and the NCT made it sound easy enough. The reality was very different. Within a few days I was a mess, cracked, sore and bleeding. I went on to develop an infection which added to the pain I was experiencing and each feed was agony. I was lucky, I was well supported by my heath visitor and also called out a breastfeeding councilor but they couldn’t help me. The only thing that was going to help was time, so that I could heal the cracks. I recovered eventually by expressing some milk and alternating bottle feeds with time on my breast. It was three months before I really had breastfeeding sorted and I went on to feed my son until he was two. I am glad I stuck it out but I could easily see why someone would chose not to go through that pain, if I had had another child for example I wouldn’t have been able to do it. What I wish I had been told was:
Breastfeeding is great but sometimes it is not straightforward. Be prepared by knowing who to ask for support and help. Have supplies of nipple cream on stand by and have and know how to use a breast pump incase you want to express at some point (3am in the morning is not when you want to be struggling with an instruction manual!). Don’t give up to soon, it is worth fighting for but equally don’t beat yourself up if it is not what you want or if it becomes impossible. You have a life time of mother guilt ahead of you, you might as well drop this one and do what is right for you.
3. It is ok to go back on things that you said you were going to do/not do
There was a time when I knew everything there was to know about parenting my children. I knew exactly what I would and would not do in each and ever situation. Then I had a baby and everything changed!
Before I had children I was sure I would use cloth nappies and I would never give my baby a bottle or a dummy. I was really quite annoying about it and it came to bite me in the bum big time. The cloth nappies were too much work for me in the early days and I gave up on them quickly and my breastfeeding issues saw me go back on my ideas about bottles and dummies. I found those moments difficult, it felt like I was going against my own moral code. I wish I had been told:
It’s great to make decisions about parenting when expecting but remember that when you have an actual baby in your arms things might be very different. You might need to change your mind about things and that is OK. Your baby wasn’t there when you made your plans and might not like them, go with the flow and let yourself off the hook.
4. Sleep, forget the housework!
Admittedly I did hear the ‘Sleep when the baby sleeps’ mantra but for some reason it didn’t make sense to me. If I slept then when would actually do anything else? The answer is this?
Drop your standards! You have a new baby, you are learning how to do the hardest job in the world with no training on next to no sleep. Rest, rest and rest again. Sleep deprivation is not a form of torture for no reason so do what you are told and sleep when that baby sleeps!
5. It is ok to not be ok
After both my babies I didn’t feel so great. Baby blues hit most mothers at some point but for me they hung around a bit longer than they should have. I felt terrible for not feeling happy. Surely this was meant to be the best time of my life? I had imagined floating around the house glowing and baking cookies. Instead I was dragging myself around in my jammies looking like I had been pulled through a bush backwards. I would tell myself:
Motherhood is amazing but it doesn’t always feel that way and that is ok. Don’t add to your stress by feeling bad about feeling bad. And if you are feeling bad then the next point is required reading.
6. Ask for help
Because I felt ashamed for not being full of the joys of motherhood I lied to the health visitor, my family and friends about how I really felt. I pretended all was well when in reality I felt pretty awful much of the time. I wish I had known:
Becoming a mother is a massive change in your life and while it can be wonderful it is also normal to feel overwhelmed, sad or a sense of loss over your old life. Normal but not OK. Normal because many parents feel that way, not OK because you shouldn’t have to struggle alone. Don’t wait, ask for help – you deserve support.
7. Don’t compare
Everyone has heard of the competitiveness of mothers but until you experience it first hand you can’t know how fierce it actually is. I was amazed at the number of little digs I got about my son’s awful sleeping or my struggle with breastfeeding. I wish someone had told me to:
Ignore, ignore, ignore! So their darling is sleeping through the night already, well good for them. Babies are all individuals who do things at their own pace. You are not doing anything wrong as a mother just because your child isn’t doing whatever their child is doing, your parenting is just fine.
8. Throw the books in the bin
I read them all. Gina, baby whisperer, books on attachment parenting. They were all very interesting. They were all totally contradictory. They all belonged in one place only. The bin.
Don’t read a ton of parenting books. If you do want advice you are better of either chatting to other mums that you know and trust or simply listening to your own gut, as they saying goes – mum knows best!
It is true what they say about parenting, the time really does fly. I missed out on a lot of the early days with my son because I was too busy worrying about what I was and wasn’t doing.
Relax and enjoy, you won’t get this time back. Forget about what you feel you ought to be doing and do what feels right. And lie on the sofa eating chocolate and smelling your baby as often as you can.
10. Take space
When I became a mother I felt completely consumed by the work of parenting. My days felt like a bad record on repeat that went: Nappy, boob, washing, food, clean. Nappy, boob, washing, food, clean. I loved my son but I was bored a lot of the time and I felt like there was no space in my life for me anymore. I kept these thoughts to myself, somehow it felt wrong to want time for me. Now I see having time to do my own thing as an essential part of being a good mother. A radiator has to be warm to heat others and as a mother you need to nourish your creativity as much as you need to nourish your body with good food. It’s part of the reason I created my site Storybramble, it gave me a space where I could be creative and connect with other mothers. Storybramble was a place to share my passion for children’s stories and I am thankful to the internet which allows so many women the opportunity to have their voices heard.
Make sure you make time for you and your passions. Taking care of you is all part of being a good parent. Mothers have a unique perspective on the world so get out there and tell your own story, the world is waiting to hear from you.
What about you? What stories did you hear about being a mother and what would you go back and tell yourself if you could?
Thank you Stephanie, for guest posting on my blog x