New mum or dad? We look at five common parenting myths you might hear…
It’s the moment you’ve waited nine months for. As you’re handed your baby, a golden light shines down, choirs sing, and you’re struck with a thunderbolt of pure, unadulterated love – as well as all the parenting knowledge you’ll ever need. It’s great that it all comes so naturally, right?
Let’s cut to real life, where it’s totally normal for new parents to feel out of their depth, however many baby blogs they’ve read. We teamed up with the skincare experts at Baby Dove to host a ‘debunking Mummy Myths’ Facebook Live session with a parent panel on the Baby Dove Facebook page – you can catch up on the video if you missed it! Here we bust five common myths about parenting coming naturally.
Myth #1: You’ll bond with your baby instantly
Some parents might experience love at first sight when they first meet their little one, but for others, it can take time to form a deep connection. Bonding is an important, natural relationship between a parent and their completely dependent baby, but creating that special loving bond is a process not the one-off event it’s often made out to be. There are lots of factors that can affect bonding, like having a premature baby or a complicated birth. If you’re very tired or ill, or your baby is being kept in another part of the hospital, you might not feel like a mum straight away. Even without these complications, not all parents experience bonding the same way.
It’s completely normal to feel a bit down after you’ve had a baby, but if that sadness persists and you feel like you can’t bond for an extended period, don’t be afraid to speak out – you could be suffering with postnatal depression. It’s really important to talk to your GP or health visitor for help, as there are lots of things you can do to stimulate bonding.
Myth #2: Only mums bond with newborns at first
Because mums carry the baby for nine months – it’s easy to see why dad might expect to feel left out of the picture. But there are plenty of ways partners can bond too in the early stages. Frequent skin-to-skin contact and cuddles release oxytocin – the love hormone. Their first bath is another opportunity where your partner, or even grandparents can get in some special bonding time. When your baby is old enough (about six weeks) baby massage classes are another way to continue bonding.
Myth #3: Breastfeeding will come naturally to me
Breastfeeding may seem like the most natural thing in the world – and it’s giving your baby the best start possible – but it may take time to get the hang of it. It happens more quickly for some women than others, so don’t feel discouraged if you’re finding it hard. Make the most of the experts around you, your midwife, health visitor or breastfeeding supporter can help with positioning, attachment and with any questions you have. Like any new skill, practice makes perfect.
Myth #4: Babies are portable so you’ll get out and about easily
You might have planned to spend days visiting family or showing off your new little one. But now your baby’s arrived you realise just how much effort it takes to get out of the house. Gone are the days where you could pop to the shops on a whim and leave in five minutes. Now it’s a veritable military maneouvre of timing feeds and gathering kit, all for your new bundle of joy to fill their nappy the second you step out of the door. Not only is it more effort, but you might not feel up to it for a while either. Don’t put pressure on yourself to get out before you’re ready. Family, friends and shopping can come to you!
Myth #5 You’ll instinctively know what they want when they cry
Oh, if only it were that easy. If you can translate the subtle difference between a waaah-I-want-to-be-picked-up cry and the waaah-I-want-to-be-put-down cry, then congratulations on your new career as a baby whisperer. Many new parents feel they should naturally know what their baby wants, and feel bad when they’re standing in front of their clean, full, wide-awake, crying baby thinking, “What do you want?!” Truth is, as much as you’ll learn to pick up on some of their cues, you won’t always know. Provided you’re sure there’s nothing really serious wrong, if you can’t figure out the reason they’re crying, you can still soothe them. Just by being there, you’re helping them feel reassured and loved.
Ultimately, parenting might not be something that comes as naturally as people think, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t trust your instincts as a mum or dad. There’s no right or wrong way to be a parent – only your way. And you’re the best person to decide what’s right for you and your baby.
Do you have any more mummy myths to share? Check out ‘Pregnancy: the best time of your life?’ .