There are 5 key commonly held myths regarding motherhood:
1. The instantaneous and automatic bonding of Mother with child
Most mothers believe that they will instantaneously feel a natural and instinctive maternal connection with their baby as soon as they set eyes upon her. However this is the exception more than the rule as research suggests that most mothers need the first couple of weeks to get to know their baby before they fall in love with them.
Also different individuals enjoy different aspects of mothering which means that bonding and the development of a connection tends to take place at different stages for different mothers.
2. A baby brings with it a feeling of constant happiness and joy
We tend to expect mothers to be all-loving, all-caring, all-forgiving. But we forget that mothers are human too and that having a baby is a big adjustment. To top it off, mothers are also often stressed, sleep-deprived, anxious, worried, frustrated, bored and are trying to deal with overwhelming feelings of guilt and anger not just the joy and love we all associate with motherhood.
3. That breastfeeding will simply come naturally
Many women do not enjoy breastfeeding and choose not to, many women feel that they have to even when they do not enjoy it and other mothers love breastfeeding and find it easy. Similarly some babies feed easily, some babies are lazy feeders and some need more help than others. With all these different factors, how can it be a natural and easy phenomena?
One should also expect various hiccups in the beginning stages as, if you think about it, this process involves two people learning and adapting to each other's ways. However these are usually temporary and can be solved with appropriate guidance from a breast-feeding counselor.
4. That I can do it alone, I don't need help from anyone else to raise my child
Many women feel that they do not or should not need help when they first give birth to a baby. However during the first two month period, if it is possible, the mom should be able to focus on caring for her baby, establishing a sleeping and feeding routine and being gentle with oneself.
During this period and the period just before birth, mother's often feel inadequate, scared, vulnerable and unable to deal with things that maybe she dealt with easily before. Rather give yourself this time to recover and allow others to help you.
5. Your sex life will return to normal in just six weeks
Many women expect their sex life to return to normal after the stipulated 'six weeks'. However this is not always the case, during this period the demands of the baby, the changes in your body and your lifestyle may mean that you are not ready to return to a normal sex life for much longer than this.
During this period you need your partner to understand and respect that this does not mean that you no longer love him. Perhaps at this stage you can seek other ways to show tenderness and care between you and your partner.
Gabi Kell is a Counselling Psychologist who has focused her research on maternal mental health, postpartum depression and women's issues. She also works with children with specific learning problems, ADHD, behavioural problems or helps children in adjusting after a divorce. You can find more information about this and other mothering issues on www.gabikell.co.za. Gabi Kell can be contacted on 031 201 9903 or firstname.lastname@example.org.