Motherhood: from an outsider looking in

My friend recently gave birth to her first child, a baby girl, having married her long-time boyfriend the year before. I soon noticed as an outsider looking in, that being a mother is a grand concoction of emotions and one constant truth; no one knows how your life will change when you have a baby until you have a baby. Sounds silly, but true.

Everyone Has An Opinion, But Not All Are Valid.

As a new mum you seem to be inundated with opinions. Your head unknowingly filled with thoughts of dread before you even give birth. The countless people warning of the exhaustion, never-ending crying, diaper changing seems never ending. Now, truth be told, if those advice giving parents were honest when it comes to their child rearing wisdom they would need to give a large dose of credit to hindsight.

Seeing my friend become stressed, second guessing herself and all the while with a ‘colicky’ baby, was heartbreaking. I had no idea about colic, as I have no children of my own. I was curious, so I did one most people do, I googled it. Apparently colic can affect one in five infants and in some extreme cases a baby can be inconsolable for up to several hours. I couldn’t imagine it. I get stressed out when my cat meows for twenty minutes before and after being fed. Yes. I compared a baby to a cat, but I digress.

According to Dr. Scott Dunlop of ‘Sydney Paediatrics’, a sobbing baby is normal. Most newborns cry an average of two to three hours a day in the first six to eight weeks. An infant that cries more than the aforementioned however is often referred to as having colic. Dr. Dunlop explains it best;

“Colic refers to a baby who cries for more than three hours a day, three days a week for three weeks or more and usually occurs in the first couple of weeks of life, and generally settles by three months.

Soothers And Bibs And Bottles, Oh My!

With a colicky baby in tow, I joined my friend to seek a remedy. The choices available were endless, not just for colic, but for babies in general; from soothers, to food, bibs and nappies of all shapes and sizes. I felt the aisles were swallowing me whole with their endless choice and cheerful packaging. My naivety was clearly on display.

Of course my retail savvy and environmentally conscious friend had done her research. The items my friend chose were a MAM Anti-Colic bottle and soother, it was a Rolls Royce of baby products. According to my friends findings the products have been tried, tested, designed and environmentally engineered, probably more than my new car. I never would have thought so much science and thought of a products carbon footprint went into feeding a baby.

My friend also politely explained to me while under a happy languorous haze of tester perfumes in Chemist Warehouse; the bottles I had purchased as a gift a few months before were not the optimum type. The MAM bottle and soother has BPA free teats made from ethically sourced silicone, not cheap latex. To be honest, I don’t even know where my own water bottle comes from let alone if any of it is ethically sourced. There is literally a never ending pile of information to consume when you become a new mum.

My Advice Is Simple And True.

My first point of advice is for the grandparents. Please refrain from telling your own child that when they were a baby they never use to cry as much or that they stopped crying after a week etc. Such sentiments don’t boost a mother’s confidence but rather push them further to the precipice of an emotional breakdown. Truth be told, a grandparent’s memories are likely to be a little diminished from reality after a few decades of distance.

Therefore, as an outsider looking in, I have much more pride, empathy and admiration for my friend, and all new mothers out there. It is not easy, that I can clearly see. Now, the only advice I would give to a new mum is this; be kind to yourself and don’t feel guilty, afraid or ashamed to ask for help or accept it when offered. You’re not alone. After all, as clichéd as it sounds; it takes a village to raise a child and a happy and healthy mum means a happy and healthy baby.

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