Honesty in Motherhood

Emma Rosen, writer, mother, singer and breastfeeding advocate. shares her views about the realities of becoming a parent and why honesty in motherhood is so important. 

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Hands up if you’ve heard phrases like, ‘You’ll forget it all soon enough,’ ‘At least you got a healthy baby,’ ‘You’ll miss these years – the best of your life.’ Did it make you want to kick those people in the shins for brushing you aside?

People do have a tendency to rose-tint parenthood.

The wonderful little bundle, the hours gazing at them, the fulfilment of raising this little human… These things are of course true – I’m not trying to say that parenthood is a constant thankless slog – but it’s important to remember the other side: the difficulty of growing and birthing a tiny human, the mum guilt, the ‘so tired I might die’, or the isolation. None of these things make parenthood bad – rather, they make it real. Human relationships aren’t easy, they’re complex. I’m sure every one of you could tell me the most annoying things about the person you love most or the hard things about a job you love. Everything is multi-layered.

It’s normal to want to put a positive spin on experiences; the issue is that when we sugarcoat our experiences we influence the expectation of others. If pregnancy or parenthood are set up as perfect and beautiful, when our personal experiences are different we feel cheated, or worse, responsible. That doesn’t mean we should be spreading horror stories either, we just need to be honest.

Humans communicate and learn through social stories.

If we were in hunter-gatherer communities we’d be sitting round the fire sharing tales, but we don’t do that any more. We are increasingly isolated and living in filtered online communities. The implications of this are that our personal interactions become so much more important in establishing what constitutes an ordinary experience.

I wrote my book Milk as an honest story of my pregnancies, birth and breastfeeding. It’s a complex story with cultural, social and historical context. My experience was good, bad and every shade in between. I wanted make sure my telling of it was honest in order to help other parents feel less alone or for birth workers to have more empathy. My story is my own and of course everyone’s experience is different. Whilst not everyone is going to write a book about their experiences, you will most likely be talking about them in some form. Be real – we owe each other the benefits of our shared stories.

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Emma Rosen loves all things breastfeeding and volunteers as a peer supporter at a local breastfeeding support group. When she’s not writing or chasing her children, Emma makes YouTube videos, stares at the sea and sings in a band.

Reclaiming the Fourth Trimester

Sarah Yarwood explains why this period of rest, recovery and replenishment is crucial for new mothers and their babies.

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What is the Fourth Trimester?

Have you heard of the fourth trimester? Read about it? Perhaps you have done it or heard stories about a friend-of-a friend who has? Well if it’s news to you, then listen up because it is an essential missing piece of the puzzle to the replenishment of a new mother.

The fourth trimester is the time period that runs for at least one month after childbirth that is widely acknowledged in many other cultures, and while mother and baby are still at their most vulnerable, so it should be.

Taking a moment to think of ways you could honour this time could have a huge beneficial impact on long term health and overall wellbeing of mother and in turn baby.  Forget “bouncing back” or any other external pressures or expectations during this time. This is a time for you, new parents and baby, surrendering to natural rhythms, to bond and regain full strength for your new days together as you make your gentle, steady way into the future.

How can you prepare before baby arrives? 

From storing pre-cooked nutritious meals, to how to handle unwanted guests, the benefits of considering such things ahead of time all add up little by little. By preparing your own version of a fourth trimester, your future self will no doubt be thankful for it later!

Read more about the fourth trimester, what it can look like and ways you can make it your own in Sarah’s full article here.

FIRST FORTY DAYS

And check out this lovely book The First Forty Days by Heng Ou as you prepare to meet your baby.

Sarah Yarwood is a maternity massage therapist and birth doula working in Kent. She trained in Canada and brings a wealth of experience and passion to her work.