What You Really Need in the First Three Months (The Things No One Mentions)
There are so many ‘essential’ lists out there about all the stuff you need to raise a baby, and most of them are completely stupid. Why? Because the person writing the list is often being paid to promote certain items. This obviously undermines the authenticity of those ‘essential must-haves’. Another reason is mamas since the beginning of time have gotten through without fancy toys, designer nurseries and top-of-the-line products. Those things help. But they are not essentials. So here’s a list from one mama to another, a list of things no one mentions, things that really matter. The things we really need.
Five Things Every Mama Needs (whether she admits it, or realises it, or not)
- Support. People have always had communities and families around them to help raise children. I still can’t believe there were debates on the pregnancy forums I read about whether or not it was good to have people around to help. You know what? I think we need to say a big ‘f*ck you’ to whatever part of our culture is telling us to do it all on our own. Cos it sure isn't there to benefit us!
We need people in our lives, there is no shame in that. At the most basic level, it takes two people to even make a baby. We’re not supposed to do this alone. And even if you can do it all on your own, that doesn’t mean you should. Let someone else do the cleaning, or cooking, or watch the baby, while you have a shower or eat or sleep. Let other people give you encouragement and hope, and help you through. Let other people tell you how beautiful your baby is, and how good you’re looking. Traditionally, mamas always had other women around for the birthing and postpartum periods. That doesn’t make them less independent than us, or better or worse mamas either. We just seem to have lost that value of community in our modern day and age, and we are definitely not better off for it. No one gets through alone.
- Confidence. You need to know you can do this. Don’t read things or talk to people who shatter your confidence. Don’t look up Google in the middle of the night (you’ll be convinced you’re all dying of some rare condition). If you lack confidence - who doesn’t in the beginning? - do things that will help build confidence. Talk to other mamas who empower you and encourage you. Talk to your health professional to reassure you things are ok, not Google or baby forums. Read empowering quotes each day which make you feel stronger and remind you that you can do this (you can download some of these right here).
- Commitment. This is about the decision to not give up, no matter what. Commit to getting through this, no matter what. This means leaving your baby or your husband is not an option. This means you’ll work on things, you’ll do what it takes, you’ll prioritise caring for the people in your life, rather than seeking the easy way out. It’s tough. But if you’re committed, no matter how tough it is, you’ll get through.
- Rest. All around the world, all throughout history, mamas have had times of rest. Our mums used to stay a week in a hospital to ensure they got rest. In some religions, mamas aren’t allowed to do work for a certain amount of time. We get maternity leave.
In our modern, Western cultures, we feel lazy and guilty if we are resting for ‘too long’, or while someone else isn’t. There is no prize for the mama who ‘bounces back’ straight away, and there is no prize for being the most tired mama. In fact, there are no prizes. Get your damn rest. You need it, and your baby and your husband need you to get it, too.
If you really stop and think about what your body has gone through - omg - it is more than the biggest workout you’ve done - and who doesn't need a heap of rest to recover from even that? It’s even more than a marathon runner. For some of you, it’s a surgery. Yet we seem to forget this when it comes to a baby. If you’d had any other type of major surgery, you wouldn’t worry about keeping the house clean. If anyone else you knew had gone through these things, you’d know they need rest.
Rest looks different for everyone, depending on our circumstances, but we all need as much of it as we can get.
- Food, oxygen, sleep, shelter, hygiene. These are basic human needs. What’s ‘essential’? Things that help you stay alive, not things that look nice or keep your baby entertained (those things are ‘optionals’). Ok this one is a bit of a joke, but it's still true. Get these things. Don’t neglect taking a shower. Don’t neglect to eat. Get outside for some fresh air once a day (even if it’s just sitting outside your front door). You need it.
I know this list may be tough for some mamas to achieve. But in whatever way it looks in your own life, these things will help you more than you can imagine, to whatever degree you can include them in your postpartum period.