Mum’s the word: New mothers share tips
It is advice that will not be found in any mothering manual — raw, practical and from the heart. Candid insights from mothers and grandmothers who have been there before, from avoiding social media and not feeling so guilty to remembering to do pelvic floor exercises and giving housework the flick.
Designed to help new mothers navigate their way into motherhood, the words of wisdom were collected by Western Sydney University (UWS) researchers from about 70 mothers across the state as part of a Mother’s Day Letters project to combat maternal anxiety. The reams of practical insight from the anonymous handwritten letters will be delivered today to new mums at Westmead Hospital.
UWS Professor of Midwifery Hannah Dahlen, who is one of the investigators on the project, said the initiative stemmed from mothers becoming increasingly isolated after having a baby, with some no longer having their own mothers around to help.
The letters form part of a broader research initiative under way to collate a series of practical tips for new mothers, with researchers planning to expand the project nationally and internationally, she said.
“Life is sometimes lonely for new mothers, especially in the past 50 years with the loss of a community where neighbours know each other, or where
everyone gathers at the local church,” Ms Dahlen said.
“Social media can also be unkind — women can really get stuck into each other — and does not replace human touch, or sharing a cup of tea.
“This is about bringing the village to new mothers by passing on advice from other mothers that is kind, positive and helpful. For some women, the first baby they have ever held is their own.”
Ms Dahlen said it was hoped the letters would become a part of every Mother’s Day. Among advice offered is not to feel guilty if you don’t always enjoy motherhood. “When being seen with a newborn, you’re bound to hear (mainly from strangers) ‘Enjoy every minute!’ ” a mother wrote.” Don’t worry if you don’t!”
Another mother warned of the strain a new baby placed on a relationship. “You may experience some rage towards your partner,” she said. “Competitive tiredness, parenting disagreements, lack of understanding about what it’s really like on mat leave, his ability to have guilt-free nights out … the list goes on.
“Don’t worry, the rage goes away once you find your way to balance your new life as a couple. I managed to get back to liking him enough to have another baby!”
READ THE LETTERS ON DAILYTELEGRAPH.COM.AU
Some of the letters written by mums collected by UWS for its project. Trust me, when you
feel like your little darling
is taking to your boobs wit
h sandpaper, you will not look ba