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reality check

Reality Check: 5 Things They Lied to You about Motherhood


Few experiences in life are as rewarding and as exciting as becoming a new mom for the first time. It’s also an incredibly mysterious time, as every bit of advice, both solicited and unsolicited, seems to contradict the next. Much of parenting is based upon your own personal style and philosophies, but there are also a few widespread parenting myths that are so accepted amongst new and old moms alike that they’re rarely questioned. Before you start worrying about your performance as a parent or concerning yourself with things that simply aren’t happening, it’s best to apprise yourself of old wives’ tales that have little merit.

1. Your “Motherly Instincts” Will Kick Right In – Many an expectant mother has been reassured by the people around her that the bewilderment she feels will somehow magically disappear the moment a newborn is placed in her arms. The truth of the matter is that you will probably leave the hospital only marginally more comfortable than you were before you went in, and that you will almost certainly never feel like you have all the answers. Very few moms are “instinctively” able to decipher every whimper or cry their babies make, so don’t beat yourself up if these promises don’t come true. Just like most things in life, true expertise comes with experience, not as a result of sudden knowledge imparted by postpartum hormonal changes.

2. You’ll Just Know How to Breastfeed – Yes, breastfeeding is the most natural and healthy way to feed your new baby. That being said, it’s also one of those things that people swear will come effortlessly to a new mother despite the fact that it’s simply not true. There’s a reason why lactation consultants, dedicated support groups and blogs exist solely to cater to breastfeeding assistance: it’s not always so easy! Your baby may have trouble latching, you may need coaching on proper positioning and it may still not work out in your favor. You haven’t failed if your plans to breastfeed don’t come to fruition, and it’s not a sign that your maternal instincts are somehow lacking.

3. Your Baby Will be the Most Beautiful Thing You’ve Ever Seen – When you look at your baby for the first time, you may be completely besotted. That doesn’t mean, however, that she’ll necessarily be beautiful. Birth is difficult business, and it often shows when a baby’s brand new. She may be discolored, she may have a misshapen head from a rough delivery and she may even have acne.

4. You’ll Have Your Old Body Back in No Time – Creating a person takes a toll on your body, and it will show after the birth. Everything from breastfeeding to a scheduled cesarean section is said to be the solution to losing baby weight and getting back into shape quickly, but the truth is that every human body is different. Your best friend might snap back from pregnancy in no time, and you may still be struggling to get back to your old body when your little one starts elementary school. In all likelihood, you’ll never look exactly the way you did before you became pregnant, and it’s not necessarily a reflection on your level of discipline or the amount of effort you’ve put in to losing weight.

5. It’s Just the “Baby Blues” – Postpartum depression is a very real and potentially debilitating condition, and even though it’s openly discussed by celebrity moms and parenting experts, many new moms still believe that what they’re feeling is a simple case of the “baby blues.” Knowing the difference between hormonally-charged mood shifts and bona fide postpartum depression isn’t always easy, which is why it’s important to discuss any concerns you’re feeling with a medical professional