I’ve just embarked upon the greatest, scariest journey of my life—I’ve become a mom, and not only that, a mom to twins. When I found out I was pregnant I decided to quit my role in marketing, step back and work from home. Now, working as a researcher and writer I’ve decided to spend most of my time focusing on helping other parents with ideas about managing money, helping with childcare or even how to make the most of mealtimes. These things are important to me and I feel I have a lot of knowledge to share.
First-time motherhood is a unique time in life; one in which we are called upon to care for a little baby who is totally dependent on us for the first months and years. Most mothers will tell you that this time is magical, but that it can also be daunting at times. Recognizing that some new aspects of motherhood take time to get used to isn’t something to be ashamed of.
Motherhood is a significant yet rewarding challenge; some aspects will seem easier than others but if you ever feel overwhelmed, remember that there is someone who is walking alongside you at all times; someone who is ‘your shepherd’ in every sense of the way, whose tenets can remind you that even in the toughest of moments, ‘this too shall pass’, giving way to some of the most beautiful and memorable experiences you will encounter in your lifetime.
Enjoying the Early Months
The first few months of motherhood can be particularly tough because parents have to make big changes to their routine—or, indeed, realize that with newborns, a strict routine can be unattainable, since babies can have irregular sleep and waking hours and they need feeding various times during the night and day. An interesting study carried out by OnePoll last year found that of two thousand mothers surveyed, two-thirds of them reported feeling ‘stressed out’ by the changes that birth created in their lives. Some key areas that could cause a struggle include illness of a baby, feeding, and safety, with almost half those surveyed conceding that they felt that others were continually judging them as mothers.
Six Months Is a Defining Time
The study also found that, typically, first-time mothers started enjoying motherhood fully when their baby was at least six months. Women should be aware that if they have insecurities or they feel that others are judging their choices, they are not alone. At these times, it can pay to recall the passage in Deuteronomy 31:6, which says:
“Be strong and of good courage, do not fear or be in dread of them: for it is the Lord your God who goes with you; he will not fail you or forsake you.”
Let your unconditional faith in God affect the faith you have in yourself. Nobody is a better mother for your child than you, and although advice can be helpful, it is important to feel secure in the decisions you make.
Guarding Against Isolation
Motherhood can be very lonely if your family lives far away, or if you are new in town or simply do not have a strong social network. Church is an excellent place to battle loneliness, find other moms with newborns with whom to meet and share information, and of course, share one’s faith. Making friends takes time and indeed, in the first few months after birth, you may find you are too tired to get out and about. Even when you are the only person in the home, or at times when you are up late and the whole world seems to be asleep, remember that you are not alone.
“Be strong and of good courage; be not frightened, neither be dismayed; for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9).
When you’ve got your routine down pat and you are sleeping more hours, consider proactively forming part of a supportive circle. A study from the University of Cambridge has shown that friendship can help stave off mental conditions such as depression in youths as well as adults (Ascension’s program Momnipotent provides the perfect opportunity to gather with other moms and share the joys and struggles of motherhood).
Being Content with What You Have
Many new parents begin to worry about whether or not they can afford all that a new baby entails: cribs, carriages, diapers, etc. Don’t be shy about borrowing these items from friends. Many parents will tell you that they wish they hadn’t spent so much on items that children can outgrow in a matter of months (including battery-operated rocking chairs, toys, and other items that can be handed down among friends). Hebrews 13:5 states:
“Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have; for he has said, “I will never fail you nor forsake you.’”
Rather than spending your savings on a fancy carriage or crib, focus on safety issues for babies. Baby-proofing your home is easy without going overboard on spending. Invest in items like safety gates, corner and edge guards (which will stop your baby from getting hurt when he or she starts walking), and secure locks for kitchen cabinets and other furniture containing potentially dangerous items.
Educating Yourself Prior to Motherhood
Parenthood is something that can be instinctive, yet it helps to be prepared and informed prior to giving birth. A University of Warwick study on motherhood has found that many women do not have sufficient information or support when they have a baby. Lead author of the study, Dr. Angela Davis, notes:
“Geographical mobility means that women today more often live further away from family, which means they are less likely to have relatives on hand. Also, most births take place in the hospital so that very few women have been present at childbirth before they have their own child.”
Knowing the challenges that may arise post pregnancy can help you weather them with greater resilience later. For instance, approximately ten to fifteen percent of women can face postpartum mood disorders, including postpartum depression. Knowing this can help women devise a strategy they can rely on if this should be the case for them. Thus, mothers can know the thoughts and behaviors to watch out for, so they can obtain help quickly if they need it. At times when you may lack motivation to read or seek out information, it may help to keep Proverbs 18:15 in mind:
“An intelligent mind acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.”
When you feel most overwhelmed by the changes that motherhood brings, remember the words found in Matthew 6:25-34:
“Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”
Having God on your side means that that sense of loneliness vanishes, the inclination to form bonds with others at church is strengthened, and the search for wisdom becomes more inspired. It is vital to have faith in him but also in yourself and in the many good decisions you make for your child every day.