Mum’s the word: New moth­ers share tips

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - NEWS - LINDA SILMALIS

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

ck.

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