Interviews for moms
Who better to give their opinion about pregnancy and motherhood than mothers themselves? I am lucky to have women around me that I can share my experiences with and listen to their advice as well.
I am honored that three of my close friends C.B, L.B and R.A decided to answer some of my questions about pregnancy and motherhood.
How did you feel when you realized you were pregnant?
C.B: Very happy and, at the same time, more responsible as I realized my decision would not only impact my own life.
R.A: It was a mixture of overwhelming joy, happiness and worry on the other side.
L.B: We were really happy and shocked at the same time that it happened so fast. We had decided to try to have a baby and it happened after one time of trying. We definitely did not expect that.
What questions/concerns came to your mind regarding nutrition for yourself and your baby?
C. B: I had heard before from pregnant women that there are certain “rules” to be followed in terms of nutrition. When I got pregnant, I didn’t have the best habits in the world in terms of nutrition and lifestyle, in general. The first thought that came into my mind is that I needed to change my habits as soon as possible.
R.A: I was worried that I wouldn’t know how to best take care of me and the baby, that I won’t eat the right things to give the baby the nutrients it needs
L. B: I knew that there are certain foods that you are not supposed to eat during the pregnancy. Mostly I googled what I can have and what not. Doctors in the country I live don’t usually give any information about nutrition during pregnancy.
Did you educate YOURSELF or read about nutrition during pregnancy? Did you avoid any food?
C. B: I had four other friends who were being pregnant for the first time as I was. Each of them had a different approach and they read a lot of information on the Internet. I didn’t trust the sources and didn’t know how I could be sure that I would find the good sources, therefore I didn’t read anything on this topic. I just asked my doctor about what I should do and I did as he told me. I totally stopped eating any uncooked meat (sushi, raw fish), any cheese containing veins (blue cheese, Brie etc.), canned food, and I stopped drinking coffee and soda. I avoided fast-food and fried food in general, sweets.
R.A: I did read quite a bit, about everything related to the development of the child, nutrition included. I avoided a few things, like raw meat, some species of oceanic fish, raw egg, spicy food, and I tried to limit sweets and things that I knew would be harder to digest, like beans or cabbage. I also avoided fast food and generally any food coming from unknown sources. I stopped drinking coffee (biggest pain!), sparkling water or canned juices and alcohol.
L.B: Mostly “Dr. Google” helped me. I avoided eating raw things, caffeine and alcohol. However In the end of the pregnancy I started to have coffee and some sushi.
Did you work out during pregnancy?
C. B: No, but my lifestyle hadn’t included too much sport before being pregnant anyway.
R.A: Not much, but I continued to swim as often as I could, at least few times a week. I only stopped swimming a couple of weeks before giving birth
L.B: I made big plans to work out during the pregnancy but it did not work out. However I tried walking as much as possible.
With the baby arrival, what would you say about being a mom is the most difficult thing? How can you overcome that?
C. B: For me, not sleeping was the worst. I could make a huge list about several things that were overwhelming for me, but I believe the lack of sleep was the one that affected me the most. I believe that having someone to help and stay with the baby in between the feedings would be a good solution.
R.A: For me the most difficult, in the beginning, was to find time for me, as I would always put the baby first, my husband second…me last. And that is wrong, because your life as it was doesn’t have to end with the baby’s arrival. You need to find time for yourself, even if it is 1h per week, to just disconnect, do something you like, go for a swim, read a few pages from a book, take a long foamy bath! I learned this in time and I was lucky to have other mums around me going through a similar stage. Having a support group helps.
L.B: For me the most difficult time was after the birth. I was very emotional and my hormones were all over the place. I think it is important to know that after birth you can be extremely emotional and even feel depressed a little. In time these emotions go away but it is vital to have someone like your husband or close family next to you who can assure you it is all normal. Thankfully my husband educated himself about these hormonal changes and emotional breakdowns so he was prepared and helped me to overcome this. Also I find not sleeping extremely difficult.
What do you wish you knew beforehand?
C. B: I wish I knew better how difficult it is to deal with the baby after the delivery. After being exhausted because of the delivery, you assume you would get some rest and that the pain is over. But the breastfeeding part was really painful and didn’t allow me to rest. I wish I knew there is not so much magic in the beginning, but a lot of extra-effort. I wish I had a pediatrician beforehand, not to desperately ask for recommendations and visit several doctors with a needy 2-week baby. I wish mothers around me hadn’t put so much pressure by saying “you will know what you need to do with the baby”, when the actual truth is that you don’t sometimes. I wish somebody had told me “It’s ok to not know what to do, to feel exhausted, to believe you have not maternal instincts, to feel like you want to run away from your own child just to get some rest…really, it’s normal”.
R.A: It’s not so much about what I didn’t know, but I wish I had trusted me and my instincts more related to breastfeeding and the difficulties you can face, about the role that food and liquids are playing. In the early pregnancy days it’s easy to feel discouraged and tired. Also listening to too many advices from people that are not lactation specialists (or whichever your problem is) doesn’t help.
L.B: I wish I knew how the hormones mess you up after delivery. I think I would have handled myself and the situation better if I would have been more prepared for that.
How are you dealing with physical changes of your body? Are you content or would like to change something? What has been your approach so far?
C. B: I had no specific approach. I am lucky that I had a fast delivery and my body recovered rapidly and very well. I lost the gained weight within one year. I can’t complain about my body, but I would have liked to have a sort of planned nutritional schedule to follow while I was too overwhelmed to think about my own wellbeing. I neglected myself as I had the baby and I could always feel that not taking care of myself negatively impacted the way I reacted with my child or the situations my child was exposing me to.
R.A: For me the recovery was natural. I was lucky not to be left with any extra kilos or birth marks. I don’t really like to exercise, but I tried swim as often as I could. A bit more exercising wouldn’t have hurt though!
L.B: Luckily I recovered from the birth very well but I still have some baby kilos to shred. I am trying to swim now every night half an hour and hopefully soon I can start training with the personal trainer.
Did you experience any emotional turmoil’s while being a new mom? Please explain.
C. B: I was totally depressed about the fact that I was constrained of only taking care of a baby all of a sudden, after a very active life. The routine and lack of sleep made me go crazy and I couldn’t judge the situations properly. I was blaming everyone around me for not being able to help me even though they wanted to. I couldn’t assume my role for a while because I was not prepared for this kind of life rhythm.
R.A: Of course. I don’t think I know any mum that did not. Each experience is different I guess. For me the first weeks were the most difficult, until we found a routine and I gained confidence. At first I felt that nothing I did was right, I was tired and couldn’t calm down the baby at times. The baby was feeling my nervousness and would calm down faster with her father, which was painful to see.
I had to learn to relax, to be less possessive and try to use the people around me, to take advantage of the baby’s naps and take one also.
L.B: As mentioned before I went through emotional rollercoaster. I had all kinds of weird feeling, including thinking that my life is over and I will never have the freedom I had before. Like my midwife said I was literally mourning my old life. It takes some time to get used to the new life and being mom.
What kind of help/support could be beneficial in order to overcome this new transition from being in a relationship without kids to a three member family?
C. B: Sometimes just the only thought that all families go through could help. But actually, I believe that certain techniques should exist or should be invented to prepare the couple for such transition, just to make them a little bit aware of the responsibility, effort and changes they need to assume. And some practical solutions about how to make the best out of this experience.
R.A: It helps to have someone around that you can trust to leave the baby with once in a while. It will be scary at first and you can take it gradually once you feel ready to try. But it helps to go out of the house, just the two of you, once in a while, for an hour or two. If you have parents around you, don’t hesitate to use their support! Or if you have a nanny you can trust.
L.B: I believe that it would have been very helpful to have our family around. We decided to manage ourselves and it was very hard. I would suggest the new mothers to get their mother to stay with them for few weeks or hire doula/ midwife who can come during the day to help.
Tell me in couple of sentences if your relationship with your partner has changed since having a baby.
C. B: Of course it has changed :). (1) We don’t have the same time together and if we do, we spend half of it speaking about the kids, usually sharing contradictory opinions about how children should be raised or treated, to put it nicely :). (2) Before and after the delivery, the sexual life was practically inexistent, which again puts a lot of pressure on the woman (even if men have their own complaints about it, I am sure of it). Women feel guilty because they can’t or they don’t feel like having sex, men say they understand, but they actually don’t. (3) It’s like I started to know my husband for the very first time, but from a totally different perspective, because I had only analyzed him as a man, but after the baby, the fatherhood component was as important as the manhood. (4) There is also a huge positive side, as we discovered new skills in each other, we learned how to work as a team, we shared the same concerns and we put the effort to find solutions so that we could find a balance and be happy ourselves as a couple, and as parents. Our communication level reached its high point.
R.A: Having a baby changed both of us. But in a good way. We both became more family oriented, more protective of our family time. I think we both see each other in a different light since we became parents. It’s not easy to find time for ourselves any longer, but is worth trying to. 🙂
We also tried not to let this affect our normal life, so we took the baby everywhere with us since she was a few weeks old, gradually increasing the duration of trips, etc. It worked out perfectly for us and I would strongly recommend others to try the same.
L.B: Our relationship have definitely grown stronger. I appreciate and respect my husband even more after he supported me through the tough first weeks. Obviously we have less time for ourselves but we try to find every night hour or two for each other.
What is the most challenging thing about being at home with the baby? How would you describe your typical day? What is the positive/negative about being home?
C. B: It always depends on each person’s lifestyle. For me, it was very difficult, as I was always away from any household chores and I always needed to go out, just not to be indoor. Psychologically, I felt that the baby made me be stuck in a certain place, but later on I discovered I could do things together with him. Everyone else’s perception that by being a home with the baby means you have time to cook, to clean, to do the laundry, to watch movies and chat with the friends just made me go crazy :). Describing a typical day makes me sad already, so I won’t. But what I can say is that the baby brings an overwhelming and mind-blowing routine, but, at the same time, the baby is always changing so you never know what he will be like that day and you can never plan to do anything else :). It’s your routine, but not his/her routine. To sum-up, the negative side is that you can literally go crazy and you overthink situations, you feel guilty and you are not able to find some time for yourself to detach from the baby; the positive side is that your baby benefits from your time and you know this is the best you can offer and what he/she needs the most in the beginning of his/her life.
R.A: The feeling that being at home, changing diapers and feeding the baby ‘is all you do’ can be overwhelming at first. You need to find a way out of the routine from time to time, taking the baby with you to meet a friend, go in a park, have a coffee (no caffeine, of course). As long as the baby sleeps and you can feed on request, there’s no reason to be ashamed.
My typical days were something like this: feeding, nappy change, take a walk with the stroller or baby carrier, feeding, nappy change, taking a nap together, more walking, feeding, nappies… and some cooking.
Being at home for a while is the best thing for your baby. It is also a great time for you to relax, forget about work. You can do something you like, the baby is likely to sleep a lot in the first few months…catch up on reading, movies, that series you’ve been dying to see… The negative is that your social life will obviously take a serious hit, so try to stay in touch through social media, have them come over instead of going out, and find those opportunities to escape from the routine for a few hours, especially at night when you know the baby will sleep.
L.B: To me the most challenging is not having the freedom I had before. I have been told by other mothers that eventually you get used to it that you will never have the freedom you had before the kid. My typical day starts with getting the baby ready for the day, eating myself, feeding the baby, putting him down for naps and taking him for walks etc. after years of working full time it is hard to get used to the housewife life but the positive side is that I can spend time with my baby and see closely his development milestones.
What advice would you give to expecting moms?
C. B: Expect 10% of magic moments, 80% of physical effort and psychological challenge and 10% of fights with the entire family who is getting ready for 9-10 months to just give useless advices :). On a more serious note, I advise them to take at least 30 minutes every day for themselves to just put their mind away and do something that literally makes them break up with the baby, the environment and any stressful thought. And it’s probably easier if they start doing this while being pregnant, as a practice. It’s more useful than planning how life with the baby will be, since you actually can’t know in advance.
R. A: Taking care of you, doesn’t make you a bad mum! Your child will benefit more from a mum with the right level of mental sanity.
L.B: Get all the help you can! I would suggest even making a schedule and if possible have people coming to help you the first 3 months. Also learn to let go of things. Definitely let your partner be part of the responsibilities and baby care.