Nothing quite prepares for you becoming a parent. You can read all the books and talk to your friends who have children, but when you get home with your new baby it can be an incredibly overwhelming experience.
Nine months isn’t enough time to prepare that your life will completely change forever. Some people spend longer planning their wedding, which is one day as opposed to at least 18 years of being responsible for another life.
The way becoming a new parent is portrayed in TV and movies doesn’t help our mindset. Hollywood makes it look so easy; the baby is born, and everything clicks right into place. Here at MoreLife, lots of us are parents and we work with new parents all the time. Let us tell you – the reality of becoming a parent is very different. Becoming a parent may be one of the best things you’ll do but this doesn’t mean it’s easy.
If you’ve been struggling as a new parent, we wanted to assure you that you’re not alone. We’ve collected some of the classic ways we see new parenting portrayed, shine a light on the reality, and explain how you can look after yourself, and your new baby.
In films and TV, we see positive pregnancy tests followed by delighted squeals, happy hugs with partners, and excited phone calls to friends and family. Whereas in reality, it doesn’t always happen like this. Hollywood has given us this pressure to immediately feel happy and excited about getting pregnant, but it takes time to process. It’s such a life-altering moment and it’s ok to feel scared or stressed by it.
Plus, Hollywood can romanticise a new baby getting home. There may be some mentions of the baby crying, but it’s kept to a minimum. It doesn’t capture the sleepless nights, relentless crying, and that overwhelming sense of not being sure if you’re doing parenting right.
You don’t have to feel a certain way. This is your pregnancy, your baby, and your journey. Take the time to process your feelings how you need to and remind yourself that you’re doing your best.
Forming a Bond
From the moment the mother gives birth and holds her new baby, everything seems so right. There’s that first magical, skin-to-skin, contact. Some parents may experience this, but many do not. You are not alone if you’re missing that movie magic moment when you first hold your baby. It’s ok if you don’t feel an immediate connection; just like any relationship, it takes time to form a bond.
Give yourself time to adjust to your new baby. Your connection will grow the more time you spend together. Each baby and each parent are unique, your bonding timeline will be different, and this is totally ok.
Expanding further on that feeling of excitement, it’s rare to see postnatal depression accurately portrayed in films. We don’t hear enough about how being pregnant can impact your mental health. Sure, we may hear “the baby blues” gets talked about here and there, but it doesn’t fully explore that feeling of isolation that only new mothers know. Women are more likely to experience problems with their mental health during pregnancy and after the first year of giving birth, more so than at any other time of their life.
If you’re concerned about your mental health, please refer to a healthcare professional. Remember you are not alone.
It’s also important to have a support network in place. Whether it’s speaking to your friends and family or joining online groups. Check out these NHS Resources.
It’s rare that to see the partner’s journey portrayed in films or TV. Some show the moment of “we’re going to have a baby.” It only takes a few seconds for them to process the news and then they immediately get that feeling of excitement we talked about earlier.
We don’t see enough of how pregnancy can impact the partners. They have double the pressure of looking after the baby and their significant other. There’s that sense of having to be extra strong to look after the family. They could also feel like they’re not part of things, even though it’s a huge change in their life, too.
Remember to communicate with your partner. Also, talking through worries and feelings with friends and family can help you feel supported.
In the movies, we’ll see a woman come into the hospital with her baby bump. Then, once she’s given birth, her body will look exactly how it did before she got pregnant. Any woman who’s had a baby will tell you that this is not how it happens in real life.
Once you’ve given birth, your body changes. You don’t have to put pressure on yourself to immediately change back. You may struggle to find the time or motivation to maintain or create healthy habits.
If you do want to lose weight after your pregnancy, the best advice we can give you is to look after your mental health and wellbeing first. We’ve written about this more in another blog, which you can read here.
At MoreLife, we can help you make healthy lifestyle changes – when you feel ready to start making them. You can find out more about our maternity programmes and how we can help you.
Can you think of any more Hollywood vs parent expectations? Let us know in the comments below.