BY GUEST BLOGGER - SALLY WOOD @THEMINDFULMUM
Motherhood: our greatest teacher. A journey filled with SO many lessons. It doesn't matter how ready you think you are, nothing can fully prepare you for the monumental shift that takes place when you can become a mum. From the highest highs to the lowest lows (somedays ALL within a matter of moments!), it's quite possibly the biggest emotional rollercoaster ride we'll ever go on.
The reality is, many expecting and new mums are shocked by how challenging the transition to motherhood can be. As many as 1 in 5 will experience perinatal anxiety or depression. Looking back, many feel they might have been able to cope better if they’d known more.
In honour of PANDA week, we asked our beautiful community of mums to share their real and raw ‘I wish I knew’ insights. There were so many pearls of wisdom that we sure wish we knew before becoming mums! Even if we'd truly understood just a few of these, we think our path would have been easier.
We've curated our top 30 into a powerful collection to help break the silence and empower new and expectant mums. Check them out below...
"I wish I knew that my experience will never be the same as someone else and that there is no rush. In those most difficult moments when it's just you and baby, take a breath and remind yourself that you can and will get through this. You're someone's mum and there's no greater or more challenging experience."
"I wish I knew that no matter how many books I read or many people I spoke to, I would know absolutely nothing about raising a baby and that every baby (I've had 3), would be totally different! Babies seem to teach us how to be their parent and take care of them in the best way for them!"
"I wish I knew to let go of the expectation and trust that what you are doing is perfect for you and your child no one else. I wish I knew to reach out for help and to not think it was weakness or failure. I wish I knew to let go of control and just ride the rollercoaster."
"I wish I knew that a postpartum plan was as important as a birth plan. I would have put things in place to rest and recoup over the early weeks."
"I wish I knew that people wanted to help, they just didn’t know what to do. Once I started calling and asking for particular favours I had all the help I needed...it just took four hard months to get there!"
"I wish I knew that it’s not always so lonely & how much it changes your mindset on things - I used to spend a lot of time beating myself up over little things. Now I try to celebrate the little things I did in a day to remind myself I am doing a good job (i.e. I did a load of washing)."
"I wish I knew how to better ask for help when I needed it. I still wish there was some 'mumma batsignal' you could put up and people would come help and I could help out other mummas even if they say 'oh no, I'm fine'..."
"I wish I knew how strong the mental battle with my own self would be. No one tells you this side of mummyhood. The newly found love I had for our precious bundle of joy and the all that is involved when you’re suddenly someone’s mother, who is so dependable on you, made me feel guilty for even contemplating some “me” time. It took me almost a year to feel like I was actually still ‘me’ inside. I like these words of wisdom....'We are beautiful, we are amazing and we are mothers. Mothers that still have their own special identity, as they did before creating an incredible little human'..."
"I wish I knew how important it was to try and not lose your sense of self. You become so wrapped up in being mommy you forget about you. You give up work, going out, time with your partner, a lot of the things people identify as being things that make up who they. Try and keep just a little something that’s just for you that takes you back to who you were before you had kids. It’s so wonderful being a mum but it can be all-consuming sometimes."
"I wish I knew more about the process of giving birth & what my body was doing, how I could have supported it, and that we have the power within us to birth, with my first. I believe I would have had a much better experience, as I did with my second. Knowledge is power."
"I wish I knew that no book would help my babies sleep...they're all different and will sleep eventually!!
"I wish I knew that taking anti-depressants doesn’t make you a failure - it can be a great part of the recovery process and just because they’re not for everyone doesn’t mean they can’t be helpful for you! #supportdontjudge"
"I wish I knew that newborns don’t follow the exact routine you want them to, and that’s totally okay! Took time for the organised part of my brain to relax and just be guided by bubba and realise the routine comes when they’re older."
"I wish I knew I wasn’t creating any bad sleeping habits by letting my son sleep in my arms in the early weeks of him being born! I used to feel so guilty if he fell asleep on me rather than the bassinet because I was worried he’d never get into a sleep routine. When I look back on it now I wish I had just enjoyed those moments because now I only get micro cuddles with my nearly 2 year old!"
"I wish I knew that time would fly on by, that every stage will have an end & no matter how hard the challenge to soak in the beauty of the moments and stop looking ahead."
"I wish I knew that nothing lasts forever. Try to just take it day by day and do not compare your self to the internet."
"I wish I knew that mothers can’t do everything. I wish I knew that taking care of your baby means taking care of yourself. I wish I knew that I wasn’t alone and that if you expect you will be perfect in all aspects of parenting you’re setting yourself up for failure. I wish I knew that I would be my own worst enemy and the only person putting pressure on me, is me."
"To realise that time out - even if it’s just a few minutes - is not selfish. It’s self-care and necessary to be there for your child."
"That no one really “has it all” we are all just doing our best with what we have and that is okay."
"I wish I knew how fleeting time was and that even though when you’re in the thick of it, you feel completely overwhelmed - it passes so quickly. I wish I hadn’t wished it away so quickly with my first!"
"I wish I knew it was okay to ask for help..having gone through PND I let pride get in the way in the early days."
"I wish I knew it was okay to follow what my baby wants instead of trying to work hard at routines and focusing on milestones. It caused way too much unwanted-stress."
"I wish I had said "yes" to help but instead, I struggled and said "I can do it" as a first-timer."
"I wish I knew that it was okay to admit that I wasn't okay!"
"Sleep deprivation is debilitating. Take the chance to rest & leave the washing/dishes/cooking. Your emotional & physical well-being are more important."
"I wish I knew it was okay to have postnatal anxiety and not be so hard on myself and accept that this is a feeling and it doesn’t define me."
"I wish I knew that it’s okay to ask for help with baby or things in general. You can’t be a super mum and try to take on everything like you did before baby was born. I had 5 kids and every birth was different. I exhausted myself and I expected too much from myself. Slow down, take care of yourself, rest, eat and save energy."
"I wish I knew there was an art to not give a f***! The art of not listening to the should's and living by the could's, being followed by the ancient wisdom of our hearts and connecting soulfully with ourselves and our bubba's."
"I wish I knew and had the sheer confidence to put my needs first in order to be at my best for others. I wish I knew that I was allowed to be kind to myself. That motherhood would bring me to the point where I can’t deny that I need my own love and care. The oxygen mask theory!!"
"I wish I knew how much you can love. How knowing and understanding a child so fully can give you so much fulfillment and enrich your life."
One thing's for sure, a common thread with all of these amazing insights is the importance of prioritising self-care as a mum. So often as mums, we have a tendency to pour all or love to everyone else, that we can forget about directing some of it to ourselves as well. But it's true that nurturing our loved ones really starts with nurturing ourselves. And when we don’t find ways to nurture our thoughts, feelings, and emotions, EVERYTHING starts to fall apart...
Self-care is health care and is most definitely not selfish. It's the ultimate win-win, and crucial for sustaining ourselves throughout motherhood.
We need self-care to heal.
We need self-care to cope.
We need self-care to foster resilience.
And we need self-care to be the mums and women we want to be.
If you think you or someone you know may be suffering from perinatal anxiety or depression, visit www.panda.org.au for resources, fact sheets and further information about where you can seek help. Support is available and no mum should ever have to suffer in silence.
Remember, when WE nurture our health and happiness - EVERYONE benefits. It doesn't need to take hours. In fact, a little bit often beats a lot seldom! Above all else, be kind to yourselves, mamas. We're in this together.
If you need a little helping hand, why not download our free self-care planner from The Mindful Mum below?