Sunday 11 November 2018

Parenting Doesn't Always Come Naturally And That's OK!

As parents, mums especially it seems to be that we are just expected to "know" what to do when we become parents. There is supposedly this maternal instinct that kicks in and makes us parenting experts as soon as we see those blue lines on the test.

But lets face it that's not the case and for me that expectation put even more pressure on me as a new mum.

When James was born I was just 19. I had worked right up until a few days before James was born and really struggled coming to terms with the fact that I was actually going to be bringing home a real baby! The day James arrived was a whirlwind and after a long labour I felt both exhausted and anxious on how I would look after my new arrival.

I refused to hold James when he was born and despite what the midwives though it was just because I felt so tired. It felt like if I held him, my arms would give way and I would drop him! But I immediately felt the pressure of this and when reading my notes later realised this was a bit of a red flag for them.

When we got down to the ward after he was born I felt overwhelmed. Everything had happened so quickly since he was born and now suddenly this almost felt like they were handing us over to the big wide world with our new baby. I remember the nurses asking if I knew how to change his nappy and my mind was blank. Of course they were great and showed me how but when I realised I didn't really know how to do all these little things like change a nappy, burp or feed him I felt like I had already failed.

It feels like there is this expectation for mums to just "be naturals" and if that doesn't happen, that there is something wrong. When it didn't come naturally to me I hid away. I shut myself away from the world in fear that people would judge me. I would spend days, sometimes even weeks without seeing anyone other than my partner. I developed anxiety and depression but felt like I had nobody to turn to.

That's no way to live for either me or my new baby and I still live with the guilt today that as a baby/toddler and myself as a new mum we probably missed out on so much. When I became pregnant with Evelyn I had 5 years of "experience" on my side, but let me tell you those first few weeks were still bloody daunting! I doubted everything I knew, everything I thought I knew and it felt like I was starting all over again at this whole parenting malarkey!

If I could share one message with every new mum, first time mum, or mum of 5 on that maternity ward it would be that its ok to feel overwhelmed. Its ok when parenting doesn't come naturally and its definitely ok to ask for help! Never feel embarrassed or any less of a parent for saying "well actually I'm not sure, can you show/tell/help me".

It doesn't make you or me any less of a mother to admit your finding it hard or it isn't quite as you imagined. Until you become a parent you can never really truly understand of begin to realise just how tiring, demanding and unpredictable a baby can be.

Its the pressure for mums just to "know" and in reality that isn't the norm for mums or dads at all, so why do we feel like it is?



  1. I don't have kids myself but I do think it's unfair when parents are just expected to know what to do x

  2. Yes to this, 100%! Why WOULD any new mum or dad know how to change a nappy or feed and burp a baby? In fact, I went on basically what I had seen on tv and what other people told me...which wasn’t necessarily a good thing because everyone thinks they know best and when you are so vulnerable that is confusing and causes more anxiety. I had my boy when I was very young too and it really was a struggle.

  3. I totally agree with this, I think there is so much emphasis on this instant bond and it can be very different for all parents. I did feel that instant bond with mine BUT I struggled massively with learning how to be a parent!

  4. I honestly think it's really difficult to know how we will react to having a baby no matter how many children we've had. Labour and the pregnancy can effect how we fell too. I would say to any new mum give yourself time as you are building a relationship with a new little person and that doesn't have to happen overnight

  5. I felt similar. I'd had a rough birth and didn't even see my son come into the world. I didn't even get to meet him for 24 hours. It felt strange holding him for the first time. Like I was being judged. Maybe it's the fear of getting it all wrong? I agree with Zena. It doesn't have to happen overnight.

  6. I had my first at 18 and had no experience of looking after children at all - I was terrified at first and on my own too

  7. I know exactly how you feel. I get overwhelmed with guilt that I’m not doing things right or letting the kids down even now! My oldest teen turned 18 yesterday. I still feel the same even now x

  8. When I had my second child I was expected to know what to do and I had no idea I had explained that with my son he was born at 28weeks so he was 3 months old when he came home and as he was still under hospital care we had to do things differently. I now don't listen to guidelines or anything and I think as long as my kids are happy and healthy then I must be doing something right I may not be winning at mumhood but I'm winging it haha x

  9. I had my second child almost 10 years after my first, so was apparently a pro and got so little support. I was lucky to have afew great friends or I would have been totally lost. A lot had changed in 10 years and no one ever acknowledged that!