Busting Some Motherhood Myths

The birth of a baby is usually a joyful event and after you give birth to a healthy baby (especially post-IVF) you're expected to be extremely happy. But being happy about having a healthy baby doesn't make caring for him any easier. The ideas that women just know how to look after a baby, that motherhood is the most rewarding job a woman can ever do and that being a stay-at-home mum is easy are myths about mothering — or fathering, if dad's the primary carer — that I hereby declare busted.

i Mothering isn't instinctive — even if you really wanted a baby.

You're not born with special genes for parenting — the only thing you know by instinct is that a new baby needs to be fed, cared for and protected. But how do you do this? People may presume that because you're an IVF mum you know what to do, since you've been looking forward to mothering for such a long time. But new IVF mums are as much novices to the job of mothering as other new mums, and it's normal to feel uncertain, hesitant, insecure and unconfident when you're new in a job.

i Mothering isn't always what it's cracked up to be. If you have high expectations of life with a new baby, the first few months can come as a rude shock. While your body is still recovering from pregnancy and the birth, you need to juggle feeding and settling the baby, washing, shopping (and that baby capsule is a monster to carry), cooking, cleaning . . . the list goes on. At the end of the day you just want some sleep, but that's when the night shift starts! As much as you love your baby, the work of mothering isn't always fun-filled and pleasurable — in fact, at times it can be downright boring and exhausting.

i Mothering needs a well-oiled team. In most families the mother takes on the role of carer when a baby is born, but whether mum or dad is the stay-at-home parent, caring for a newborn is more than a full-time job, so extra helpers are required. You need time out now and then to clear your head, read the paper, go for a walk or have a nap. If your partner isn't available to give you a break, ask a friend or relative to look after baby while you look after your mental health.

In the paid workforce, occupational health and safety laws govern how many hours you can work without a break, how many hours off you need between shifts to allow for sleep and how often you need a meal break. If these laws were applied to stay-at-home parents, they'd all be working illegally!

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