Magical…
Glowing….
Powerful…

Ummm… sure, but also

Exhausting…
Aching…
Swelling…
Peeing (and not always on purpose)
Nursing…
Not nursing…
NEVER SLEEPING EVER AGAIN!!!

There are a lot of stories we tell ourselves and each other about being pregnant and about being a new mum. Those stories are true some of the time, for some of the people. And they are emphatically not true some of the time for some of the people!

There is no socially prescribed bar you need to meet to succeed at creating a human. There is no rule that says if you aren’t surrounded in a pink and golden glow of bliss ALL THE F*@%ING TIME that you aren’t doing it right. It’s hard to have the pink glow when your feet are swelling, you have heartburn, you can’t see your feet and you pee when you sneeze. Or when you’re covered in spit up, your baby is crying (or babies are crying in some cases…), your shoulders are killing you, you maybe have a C-section scar  and you STILL pee when you sneeze.

I see a lot of expectant and new mums in the MamaMoves pre- and post-natal classes, and this stuff comes up, so I thought it might be good to do some myth busting.

Emotional Myth #1
Everybody loves being pregnant. It is the ultimate expression of being a woman.

Nope. Not everyone loves being pregnant. Some people do, absolutely!
Some women feel incredibly sexy during pregnancy, but not everyone. It can be very disconcerting to find that your partner, the love of your life with whom you are building a family, must not touch you that way, not tonight not tomorrow not now not ever!! It can be hard on him (so to speak…) and challenging to keep a sense of intimacy when your boobs hurt and you throw up regularly. It’s all part of the package and it’s different for everyone. Don’t put pressure on yourself to feel things you don’t feel, or to live up to a Hollywood ideal of pregnancy. It will come back!
You can like some parts of pregnancy and not others. I loved feeling my babies move but wasn’t such a fan of the constant heartburn and hormone induced headache that lasted for a month. Not loving being pregnant is not an indicator that you won’t be a loving mum! And there are countless other ways of celebrating being female that don’t include carrying a watermelon in your belly for a very long time.
Sometimes we need a little hands on support too, and I am a huge fan of osteopathy for pregnant women. Janet Walker of Janet Walker Osteopathy is both a friend and a colleague and consulted on the curriculum for the MamaMoves program. She does remarkable work in balancing pelvic floor function and releasing tensions and misalignments that can be affecting a pregnancy. Janet has a lovely blog post about supporting natural childbirth through osteopathy if you are interested in how that all works! Feeling better in your body helps to reduce stress, which helps you feel better in your body. It’s a good thing!

Emotional Myth # 2
Everybody loves their baby the minute it is born. Instant bonding is critical.

Nope again. I know lots of parents who felt nothing for their newborn beyond a fuzzy, drained recognition that there was a new member of the family. They are passionate, loving, devoted mums and dads now to their kids. Giving birth is a huge experience and sometimes you need to recover from that a bit before you have the emotional energy to do any falling in love. And that’s ok! Give yourself time, it will come.

Emotional Myth #3
You will always love your baby, every minute of every day.

We used to joke that we should have gotten hamsters. Then even if we were kept awake by squeaking all night, we wouldn’t be required to do anything about it! Not sleeping is a huge contributor to stress as a new parent. It makes you cranky and irritable, it makes you forgetful and disorganized and it often makes you look sideways at your baby and wonder if it’s too late to change your mind. It makes you swear. It makes you cry. It makes you weep with frustration at not being able to get your baby to stop crying/ pooping/ nursing/ not nursing/ crying/ not sleeping and did I mention crying…
Again, there are some very relaxed babies who are easy and sleep and eat really well. Brilliant! There are also babies who are more challenging. It’s ok to be stressed, it’s ok to be angry, it’s ok to miss going out for dinner, it’s ok to miss sleeping and it’s ok to wish that just for an hour you didn’t have a baby. Most people, both mums and dads feel that at least some of the time. My second baby was colicky and ooh, boy, did we we get that… Give yourself permission to feel those things and know that they will pass. There will be that moment when the baby smiles, or snuggles in or really, just goes to sleep and you will fall over in a coma and nap along with them, And it will be ok.

**There are always going to be occasional situations where things are not ok. Post-partum depression can be a serious issue for some new mums. Some pregnant women respond to hormonal change with antenatal (or pre-partum) depression, a less frequently recognized problem. If you have negative or hopeless feelings that don’t go away, if you feel like you or your baby are at risk, take action. Tell your partner, tell a friend, tell your doctor. You are not wrong, or bad. You deserve to get help and help is out there. xxoo**

Babies, too, might need some hands on-help. We took our son to get adjustments when he was tiny and after the first one he slept for four hours for the first time in his tiny life. It is incredibly important to make sure that, if you are going to take your baby for treatment, that the therapist in question is highly trained in working with infants. You’ll be shocked to know that I refer to Janet for babies too… : ))  Osteopathy, because it can be so gentle, is terrific for helping babies who might be having trouble feeding, sleeping or pooping (amongst other things). Check here to see if your baby might benefit from osteopathic treatment!

I guess I mostly want you to know that there is a huge range of “normal”. That how you feel, and how you manage your pregnancy, your birth and your parenting are up to you. There is a plethora of information, of how-to books and how-not-to websites, of social media accounts that show glowing, happy mamas and babies in clean clothes and sparkling kitchens. If that’s not what your life looks like, don’t get down on yourself. Theirs might not look like that either, once the cameras are off!

If some of what is getting you down is physical, that’s real life too. Getting hands-on manual treatment is important, whatever modality works for you, but there are also things we can do to help by moving differently .Next week we’ll tackle some physical myths about pelvic floors, diastasis recti (mummy tummy) and the elusive pre-baby body!

xo
Alison

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