A Guide to a Successful Maternity Period: Advice and Experiences from Experienced Mothers and a Midwife
Stepping into the maternity period is a special time filled with expectations, joy, and a certain level of uncertainty. To help you navigate this transition, we have spoken with our ambassador Theresa, a new mother, and Lærke, our in-house midwife. They share their advice and experiences to make your maternity period as rewarding as possible. From establishing routines to managing sleep and the importance of self-care as a mother, we will explore their insights and learn from their experiences.
1. Be Open and Flexible During Labor:
Lærke, our in-house midwife, emphasizes the importance of being open and flexible during labor. She had dreamed of a home birth but ended up having a c-section. "As a midwife, I know how quickly labor can change and how unpredictable it can be. Even if you have planned everything down to the smallest detail, the birth can take an unexpected turn. It's important to let go of control (and yes, it's difficult, and yes, it's much easier said than done - I know, mama, but try to let go of control for your own sake). Becoming a mother is a continuous loss of control, and I would advise you to work on and reflect on how you will feel about this and what you can do to help yourself best. Even if your expectations are not always met, the birth can still be a beautiful experience."
2. Seek Support and Advice from Friends and Mom Groups:
"As a first-time mother, one of my best pieces of advice is to express your feelings, ask for advice, and believe in yourself," says Theresa. Both Theresa and Lærke recommend seeking support and advice from friends and mothers or baby groups. You may find yourself fading into the background while everyone admires the little miracle you have created together. And what you may need most is for someone to see you, hear you, and help you. This is where you need to find the courage within yourself and let others see your vulnerable side. Opening up about the difficult and challenging emotions can be helpful, emphasizes Lærke. Theresa found great support and comfort in talking with her friends and participating in a mom group. "It was nice to know that I was not alone in my worries and uncertainties and at the same time, it was super cozy to meet others who understand why you yawn at 11:00 in the morning, why you have spit-up on your clothes, why you haven't had a shower, and why you are starving and missed breakfast." Lærke adds, "My mom group has provided some great perspectives on motherhood. It's nice to have someone to accompany you, and we talk about everything from the consistency of baby poop to how annoying our respective partners can be (said with a twinkle in the eye from me)."
3. Prepare for the Unpredictable as a Mother:
Theresa and Lærke emphasize the importance of preparing for the fact that you cannot prepare for everything as a mother. "You need to prepare for not being able to prepare for anything. You have to accept that you are no longer the boss. Now it's the baby who controls the days. You may have an idea of how the day should look, but be prepared for it to change, and that's perfectly okay. The calmer you take it, the better your baby and you will cooperate, and the more enjoyable and better the day will be," says Theresa.
4. Knowledge about Birth and Breastfeeding:
Did you know that something that can create a good birthing experience for you and your partner is feeling secure? However, security does not only come from the midwife explaining during labor but also from knowing what is happening. Lærke emphasizes the importance of preparing for birth and having knowledge about what happens. She says, "Having knowledge about birth and the different stages can give you more peace and security along the way." Additionally, it's also a good idea to prepare for how you will feed your baby. "The norm here in Denmark is breastfeeding, but most people know very little about it. About 90% experience breastfeeding problems - I experienced breastfeeding problems, and I know a lot about breastfeeding. I am mentioning this to tell you that starting breastfeeding is extremely difficult, so prepare yourself, your partner, and have a plan B; perhaps having a lactation consultant on standby, whose number you have already found during pregnancy, so you don't have to do it in case of breastfeeding problems with a sprinkle of sleep deprivation, nipple soreness, and a crying baby in your arms."
5. Engage in Activities During Maternity Leave:
Theresa and Lærke both recommend getting out of the house and participating in various activities during maternity leave. Theresa says, "It can be rewarding to engage in activities like baby swimming, rhythmic exercises, and baby singing. It gives both you and the baby a chance to meet others and have some stimulating experiences." Lærke points out that the level of activities can vary depending on the baby: "Every baby is unique, so it's important to follow their pace and needs. Find out what works best for your family." That being said, it's incredibly important to do things that make you feel like yourself. It can be difficult to recognize yourself. Giving birth and having a child do not create the feeling of being yourself. Who am I actually? The reflection in the mirror typically looks different, and different doesn't necessarily have to be bad, but you are on new and uncertain ground. You put yourself in the background, so it's essential to prioritize small things that pamper YOU. Don't just eat a sad carrot because you didn't have time for anything else. Have, for example, a lunch plate ready (maybe made by your partner). Lærke advocates for "me time" and says that baby swimming is a good combination for this: "My daughter had a huge sensory experience from baby swimming, and I used it as my weekly mom-spa treatment: exfoliating face and body, hair mask, applying body lotion from head to toe. I went with someone from my mom group so we could take care of each other's children while the other one finished. It was genius, I must say."
6. Remember That It Can Be Both Extremely Tough and Amazing:
Motherhood is a fine line between the growing love for your child and slowly losing your mind. It's amazing to see how you, especially, but also your partner, contribute to shaping a little human being, but it can also be monotonous and slow at times. Theresa shares that the hardest part for her was the lack of sleep. "It's just difficult to think logically and be yourself if you're sleep-deprived. And YES, it will probably happen. In periods of sleep deprivation, it's important to be a good team at home. Talk about what is tough and see if you can find a solution, maybe by taking turns sleeping." Fortunately, the good days outweigh the less good ones, and you would gladly do it all over again for your little baby, she says. "It's just amazing to become someone's mother. Experiencing that love for such a little human being is indescribable." Lærke agrees and says that seeing her daughter smile at her outweighs everything. Period.