As a new parent, you may find yourself worrying about your baby's wellbeing: How do you know that she's had enough milk? Is she too cold or too warm? Is she getting a cold? Much of this worry stems from being new in the job and not having any experience to fall back on. After a few months when you know your baby better, you start to feel more confident in your parenting role.
As part of the study my colleagues and I carried out about mothering post-IVF (see Chapter 18), we were interested to know whether we could predict which women may struggle to feel confident in their new mothering roles. We found that women who check one or more of the following statements have lower maternal confidence:
I Did you experience a lot of difficulty trying to conceive (for example, you were infertile for a very long time, experienced pregnancy loss and had several failed IVF cycles)?
I Were you dissatisfied with the care you received during childbirth?
I Were you anxious about caring for your baby when you left hospital after the birth?
I Do you have a sensitive and timid personality?
I Do you have an unsettled baby who is difficult to manage?
This all makes sense: Your maternal confidence takes a beating if you've been through hell and back to have your baby, you didn't feel very well looked after during the birth, you were worried about taking your baby home from hospital, you're somewhat sensitive and a bit shy, and/or your baby cries a lot and is difficult to feed and settle. It's not terribly surprising that after such experiences your maternal confidence is diminished.
More than half the IVF mums admitted to being anxious about taking their babies home from hospital. When we asked them about their confidence three months later, we found that more than half were very confident about caring for their babies and the rest — mostly first-time mums — were still a bit worried. So, even after three months' practice, you may still feel a bit tentative about baby care.
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