By Lyz Lenz
Everybody loves to give new moms glib advice. When I was pregnant, everyone from the cashier at Target to the barista at Starbucks shared their advice on everything from how I should give birth to how I should raise my as-yet-unborn child. “Let her cry it out.” “Don’t give her pacifiers.” Or my personal favorite, “Sleep when the baby sleeps.” None of the advice I received was any good. In fact, some of it felt like a baldfaced lie.
Yet, as a new mom, it’s hard to stop listening to advice. You want to have every resource at your disposal to help you care for that tiny baby you’re incubating. So here is a guide to help you separate the fact from fiction when it comes to all that “helpful” advice people dish out to new moms.
Sleep when the baby sleeps
If I had a diaper for every time I heard this, I could put all of Octomom’s kids in clean pants. The truth is, you can’t sleep when the baby sleeps, because that’s when you do amazing things like shower, eat a sandwich, pay your bills, try to feel human. And if your baby is like mine, she’ll fall asleep in the car or on a walk. Are you supposed to stop everything and nap then? For mom Christy Cook, the idea of napping when her son did was a cruel joke. He only took 40 minute cat naps, “So, t was very difficult to get him down and have much time left for my nap! I think it may work for some, but it really didn’t work for me,” said Cook.
Childbirth is an intimidating and scary process, but all hardened moms like to assure the newly pregnant that they will forget what it was like to give birth when you look at the sweet face of your newborn. Not so. While your newborn’s face will be sweet. Recovery is long and arduous and quite frankly, your body will never be the same again. You’ll be constantly surrounded by reminders of what you went through. When you stand, when you sit, when you try to poop or when you sit down to eat. No, you won’t forget. You might wish you could, but you won’t.
Your life is over
During my pregnancy my mother in law loved to remind me that my days of travel and fun and visiting friends would be over once I had the baby. Not true. I still do the same things I did before, except now my daughter comes with me or I find a sitter. In fact, travel is more fun now because I get to share that experience with her. Mom and co-founder of Spye Design Studio, Imani Powell-Razat noted that instead of ending her social life, her child expanded it. “I feel like my life has actually expanded in ways that I’d never imagined. I have a greater capacity for love, patience and compassion. My world and my life has greatly expanded for the good.” Sure, it’s an adjustment, but it’s not the end of the world as you know it.
Breast feeding won’t hurt if you do it right
This gem of advice was actually told to me by a lactation consultant and in the weeks and months since, I’ve considered hunting her down and exacting some sort of revenge. The truth is, no matter if you are the world’s best breastfeeding champ, having a little mouth suck on your boobs for every 2-3 hours hurts. It hurts like nothing else. Blisters. Cuts. Sores. Stinging. The constant ache like someone just punched you in the boobs. All of that is normal. Mom Hilary Faverman agrees. “[Pain during breastfeeding] doesn’t mean you’re doing anything wrong, your baby is starving, you’re a terrible mother, you’re holding the baby wrong, his latch is weak, etc etc. It just hurts.” But the good news is, it get’s easier after 6 weeks.
You can have sex 6 weeks postpartum
After I gave birth, my doctor took my husband aside and told him that he should just forget about sex for 3 months. “Just prepare yourself,” she said. “Six weeks could happen, but don’t get your hopes up and go easy on your wife.” I could have kissed her. Beyond delivering my baby, that was the best thing she did for our family. Sure, some women are back to having sex even before 6 weeks, but for others, the jelly belly, the exhaustion and the feeling that your baby and your husband only love you for your huge engorged (and painful) boobs, doesn’t exactly a sex machine make. Kelly Whitehead, mom and author of High-Risk Pregnancy-Why Me? Noted, “No one seems to explain to you how painful and scary sex can be after you’ve had a baby. Yes there is the physical pain, but that is relatively short lived. The harder part is getting back your self-esteem and accepting your new form. It’s very hard to feel very sexual when you’re not only unhappy with your body (hello jelly and stretch marks), but lacking in sleep, consumed with this tiny being, and dealing with postpartum hormones.” Sure, you’ll have sex again, but in the meantime, take it easy and set your partner’s expectations appropriately.
What were some of the advice people gave you as a new mom that turned out to be lies?
About the Author:
Lyz Lenz is a writer, a mom and a midwesterner. Although, not in that order. She lives in Iowa and on the web at LyzLenz.com