February 20, 2017

It seems when you embark on this new journey as a mother, advice will be offered at every step of the way. Whether it be your own mother, grandmother, a mother of three at the doctor's office, your colleague, or maybe even a stranger at the grocery store, advice will always be free flowing, welcomed or not. As much as it is all appreciated I find the advice doesn't always apply to modern day mamas, like us. I think back to when my mum was a young 27 and first time mum to my sister. She had friends, family, doctors, or books for advice, she couldn't just quickly go on her iPhone and Google like we do today. She needed that advice passed down and around from mother to mother.

Nowadays I feel we are a bit more closed off to these words of wisdom, because we as women have more of a voice, which can sometimes mean we think ours is the only voice worth listening to. I must admit I was not given much advice when I was first starting out. In my darkest hours I know I needed some, but didn't really know where to look. Recently I asked my mum why she didn't tell me to slow down in the beginning, instead of jumping right back into my 'normal' routine. She told me she knew I wouldn't listen and would just get upset, and she was probably right. I most likely would have been upset by her observation that I was rushing back into my pre-baby routine too fast, and that I knew what I was doing was right for me. Now looking back even if I would have been upset at the time, those words of wisdom would have possibly helped me make an easier transition.

At times it seems advice from past generations doesn't always hold the same merit as advice from today's mothers. Unfortunately our generation is a bit less open about giving advice and more open to giving criticism. In my own experience so far I feel there isn't much of a community of helpful advice being given from one mother to another. With that in mind, I wanted to reach out to some incredible modern day mamas who I admire so much. They give me daily inspiration to be a stronger mother, so I have asked them to share with us a token of wisdom from their experiences. Let's unite in this crazy, exhausting, incredible, love filled journey we call motherhood.

First off I wanted to share my own bit of advice that I wish I knew when I was starting this journey as Oslo's mum.

Take the time in the beginning for just you and your baby and partner. I felt so unlike myself in the first couple of months, which made me want to try hard to get back to my normal daily routine as quickly as I could. Looking back I wish I just forwent the social outings and going out in public for staying in bed and savouring every fleeting moment. Don't feel guilty if the house is out of sorts and you haven't put on makeup in a week. None of that matters in the beginning. 

My second piece of advice that would have been invaluable to me is, don't feel ashamed or embarrassed about seeking professional help in whatever form you need. I was in massive denial for the first month about the pain and struggle I was having with breastfeeding. I really assumed I was doing it correctly because the midwives at the hospital and the osteopath I went to see all said everything looked great. It wasn't until I was hit with mastitis, thrush, cracked nipples and my breaking point that James suggested we find a lactation consultant to help me. Within five minutes of her watching me breastfeed she could see the issues and fixed them right away. She did more than just help me successfully breastfeed for a year, she helped me connect even more to Oslo and helped me heaps in my postpartum recovery. It is so important to be aware of what you are struggling with whether it be physical or emotional and to seek the help you need. 


Katie Macdonald 
Mama of four

There are endless philosophies on how to parent. And there is an equal number of parents who swear that their selected philosophy is "it".

My husband and I have four children. Our eldest three were born within 21 months of each other.  Three kids under the age of two may sound impossible, but there we were. We took a bit of a breather before number four joined. I'm not sure if four kids under the age of five sounds more sane or less. Let's add three international moves into this equation and you are now caught up with our madness.

For all of this experience, I do not have an "it" philosophy to share.  

My eldest children had more of a strict scheduling than the others. I was a first time mum with twins, and I survived by organising absolutely everything. They never missed a nap or went to bed late or ate a meal that did not contain the required fruits/vegetables/protein/grains ratio. They were breastfed for exactly six months and then swapped over to formula until they reached 12 months and could drink cow's milk. I obsessed over what types of shoes they needed to be wearing while learning to walk, which types of foods needed to be introduced at which stage so as to lessen the chances of developing food allergies. I was looking to books and experts to tell me how-not-to-screw-these-little-creatures up.  And I was terrified.

A few years, and two children later, our household is very different. My youngest is 2 years old, and although he has slept in his own single bed, most nights he co-sleeps with my husband and I because it is one less battle to flight when we are exhausted at the end of the day. He breastfed well into toddlerhood because we both still enjoyed it and the convenience of it. And despite being able to run and ride a bike, I still carry him, tied into a sling on my back because little legs get tired and we both like the cuddles. I am not making decisions based on fear or what others tell me to do anymore.  

I trust myself, and I am more forgiving when I make a mistake. I am comfortable in doing what feels right for me because I know what is best for myself, my kids and my family.

It is still not easy. I go bed worried about one of my kids nearly every night.  I question whether I reprimanded one too much, or didn't spend enough time with another. I cry, feeling guilty for locking myself in the bathroom to check my mobile, starved for adult attention. My heart breaks when I hear about a problem my child is having with another child at school.   

Everyone's situation is different.
There is not one way to do this.  
So breathe, relax, be open, be kind, be confident and support each other. 

Julia Williams
Mum of one
Blogging at This is Jules 

I remember thinking that my body would never ever feel normal again after Oscar was born. It’s incredible what we go through as women. Pregnancy and childbirth, are massively physical things, and while I suspected there would be a recovery process in the aftermath of his arrival I didn’t quite realise the extent of it. I was induced and after a long labour, things concluded with me having an episiotomy and Oscar being born via forceps. Afterwards, over several weeks I healed well – but I remember six months on confessing to friends who had all recently had babies too, that I still didn’t feel back to normal down below. I wasn’t in any pain or anything, I guess I can best describe it as an uncomfortable weighing down kind of feeling. It was constantly there, but especially when walking. I was worried that I still felt this way all this time later. But it turned out that some of them felt it too. It was a relief for me to hear that this was just part of the recovery process. Though even after that reassurance I resigned myself to the fact that maybe I’d have the discomfort forever. Until one day out of the blue in the weeks that followed I suddenly realised that the feeling had gone. I couldn’t pin point when it had gone, but it had. Please know that if you experience this, it is normal and it will pass. And I guess the long and short of this little tale is when you have worries about anything like this, talk about it. Whether it’s to your friends, GP, your local midwifery team or your mum – just ask! Chances are something that’s worrying you, needn’t worry you at all.

The second bit of advice I would give is to remember that everything you are going through is just a phase and that’s in relation to the good and the bad. Your little person is/will be a teeny tiny newborn for the shortest window of time. As in weeks. It passes by so quickly so treasure that time as much as you can and take TONS of videos (just on your phone even) and capture their mannerisms, expressions – the funny little sounds they make in those early days because once it’s passed you’ll find it hard to remember the details of what they were like. And for the really, really challenging stuff like dealing with lack of sleep and things you probably haven’t anticipated which may or may not affect you such as if your baby suffers from colic – as Oscar did, I promise it will pass. I know how very testing, draining and emotional it can be and it can feel like you’re losing your mind – but it will come to an end and before you know it your baby will be on to the next thing. And no doubt that will consume you too!

Victoria Lowry
Mother of two
Owner of Mezaya Baby

The piece of advise I cherish the most from my mother is to have the courage to follow your own 'mama instincts'. Everyone is going to parent differently and only you know what is ultimately right for your baby. Trust yourself. Give yourself permission to do things your way and don't be afraid to ask for help. 

When it's time to take your baby for their vaccinations, wear a sling. Babies cope with painful procedures so much better when they have close contact with you and I've found it so much less distressing (for both of us!). Also, if you are nursing, breastfeed them immediately afterwards as this will help to comfort and relax them.

Oh and if you are struggling with breastfeeding (pain etc) try biological breastfeeding (google it! ) it saved me!

Erin MacDonald
Mother of two

After some thoughts I think my best advice is to ask for help, and be honest with the people around you. When Mac was first born I thought I had to do it all. I put so much pressure on myself. Breast feeding was a challenge, I was discharged from the hospital with cracked & bleeding nipples, and recovering from a c-section. The sleep deprivation was a complete shock! "Sleep when the baby is sleeping", advice is much easier to give than accept. I should have asked for help; watch him so I can go have a shower, watch him so I can have a nap, watch him so I can go get my haircut, etc. If we don't take care of ourselves, it's hard to take care of others. We have this idea that we need to be supermoms, and the perfectly crafted Instagram photos that now invade our lives make us feel inadequate. We have to learn to trust ourselves, and most of all, believe in ourselves. Women can be so hard on each other, especially when it comes to mothering. We need to support each other. Being a parent is tough! We will all make mistakes, we will lose our tempers, we will say things we regret, but we must move on. So to all new moms, and especially experienced moms in the trenches - ask for help!
(And if you plan to breastfeed, don't leave home without your Jack Newman all purpose nipple cream!)

Lauren Shepard
Soon-to-be mother of two & step-mum of one
Blogging at Hunters and Heels

The words "This too shall pass". Something to remind yourself when you're cluster feeding for days, or your tiny baby decides they no longer need sleep, or it's wind, teething, endless crying....the list goes on. I've found, as I was warned by other mama's, "it's all a phase". Even on the hardest of days, I remind myself "this WONT last forever", and sure enough, it never does. Stay calm, breathe and just let it be. I like to think that learning this pretty early on has made me a relaxed and confident mother and I really have enjoyed every single day with my boy, even the toughest ones. 

I must say though, the same goes when you're smugly celebrating an adventurous eater or a few weeks of sleeping through the night...unfortunately that's all just a phase too...
So enjoy it while it lasts!

Hannah Straughan
Mum of one

Having a newborn is magical, but not as you imagine it might be. You've created a life, but you have greasy hair, it hurts to pee and walk (at the start, unless you are super lucky!), you live in a milk-stained nightie and you're more tired than you ever thought possible. It's magical, but not picture-perfect.

Every mama finds it hard. Really hard. Don't believe for a second that that other mama friend you have from yoga class or Instagram is totally nailing it, whilst you feel like you're just about keeping your shit together, because it's just not true. There are plenty of others that choose to not talk about the bad bits, and give off the air of some kind of multi-tasking superwoman, but they do this because either they don't feel comfortable to admit the nitty gritty truth, or because it truly helps them to survive day to day if they put on a cheerful front. I believed that I was the only one that was really struggling, but the moment that I opened up about it, I was met with a flood of, "oh thank goodness, me too!".

Every new mama has a problem, but it might not be the same as yours, so try not to compare yourself to others. For us, terrible nights and sleep deprivation was the biggest problem, and I was bitterly envious at times of my friend whose baby, who was the same age, slept through the night. Then I saw my friend break down in tears because she had been struggling with breastfeeding and her baby was not gaining weight as expected. I felt silly for comparing myself to her, felt thankful that breastfeeding was so easy for us, and vowed not to compare myself to another mama again.

 It gets easier! 

Kellee Macdonald
Mum of one

My new mummy advice is, sleep when baby sleeps.
Sleeping when baby sleeps during the day is a key piece of advice I was given before my little Lexie came along. But it is harder than you think! You have to be disciplined and MAKE yourself sleep sometimes. You may be so tired, yet you see all that cleaning you should do, you want to make those phone calls, look on Facebook or read the latest blog post. STOP. You must sleep (Well just after you read this right!). When you don't feel incredibly tired, life and looking after your little one is so much easier and fun, and not to mention easier on your relationship with your main man/partner! Amazing how much more you can squabble when you are both tired. Look after each other, watch your mouth and don't sweat the small stuff there. Sleep, sleep, sleep when you can!
P.S. My Lexie is sleeping right now, I better go and lay down too!

Jessica Shilling
Soon-to-be mother of two

I feel like I am learning lessons every day. It's true when they say your baby will be the one to teach you new things. So as I sit here as sick as a dog, in horrible pain with almost 2 months to go until our next son arrives, the best advice I can think of in this moment is that not everything goes the way you plan. No matter how well you plan. Your birth, your recovery, feeding, parenting, sleeping training... all of it. I quickly learned to embrace the "just roll with it" parenting attitude and I'll tell you, for the most part, it's working.

Another piece of advice is good old patience, patience, patience. Twice since babe number one was born I've lost my patience. It wasn't pretty, and it was the point where I literally threw my hands up in the air, walked out of the room and declared "I cant take this anymore!" (And of course, there were a lot of tears, because if you don't know already - new moms cry A LOT). I felt bad for taking out my lack of sleep on my toddler who was also cranky, teething, sleep-deprived and miserable, but those moments will happen. So try very hard to be patient and understand that your little one is new to the world and doesn't know how things work. They need you, for everything. You are their comfort, so be there to hug them when they cry and tell them everything will be okay. This kind of transitions into another piece of advice: the importance of talking to your little one. Seriously, talk to them as if they understand everything you are saying from day one (because they will). Baby talk is cute, but they are learning from the moment they are born. Listening to you, picking up on your cues, emotions, tones and gestures. It will save your sanity a little, or make you look crazy when you get caught having a one-way conversation. Oh and read to them - every. single. day.

And lastly, from one mom to another, just do the best you can. It will be good enough, I promise. We are so much more capable than we realise and motherly instincts are real! You really will just know what to do and your baby is going to love you and adore you the same way that you will love and adore them.

Miki Miljian
Mother of two
Blogging at Like Miljian

Follow your instincts. Never be afraid. Being a mother is written in your DNA. Let yourself be carried by nature and enjoy each moment with your baby. 

Rebecca Raynham
Mum of one
Blogging at This Little Bird

My advice would be to take help if it is offered and to look after yourself. I made sure that I showered everyday in the first two weeks postpartum and it helped me a lot. Being clean helped me to feel a bit fresher and more like myself, while I was recovering. My mum came and held Alfred, when my arms needed a break and brought groceries etc. Dan made sure that I ate and drank enough everyday and made sure the kitchen was relatively clean. Our health visitor gave us her mobile, so we could contact her with any questions. I talked about my tiredness on social media, which helped me stay connected and not feel alone. Also, don't be afraid to say what you need, if that means that you don't want any visitors that day. Be strict. People can wait, if you need some alone time as a new family.

My final bit of advice would be to not take everything to heart that people say. People are mostly well meaning when they try and tell you what to do or give you parenting suggestions. I realised that listening to them (just in case it was useful), but then doing what I wanted anyway, was best for me. It's only YOU that truly knows what's best for you and your baby. You have to do what works for you.

I am blown away with all of this incredible and relatable advice, and could have really used it when I was a new mum. It is comforting to know that all mums struggle in the early days and even in the months and years that follow, and that we are not alone.

I am so touched that all of these wonderful mothers contributed their words of wisdom. Thank you so much ladies! I hope this advice will be used to help many soon-to-be mums, new mamas and veteran mamas feel less alone and more united through motherhood.

If you have any advice that was invaluable to you or some you wish you knew about when you were starting out, please leave it in the comments.

(Top photo by Wild Eyed Photography).

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  1. What an absolute honour to be included amongst these brilliant, inspiring women! So many wise words - if I am fortunate enough to do this all again in the future I will absolutely be revisiting this post and taking some of these gems of advice with me. Beautiful, beautiful post Jules! Thanks ever so much for asking me to take part xxx

  2. Oh sweetheart! This is so so wonderful to read. Such a beautiful heartfelt post. Women and mothers are amazing, we don't give ourselves enough credit and we must remember that we are never ever alone. Thank you for asking me to be part of it xxx