Mother and Baby

The Giovanna Fletcher Column: "Let’s be honest about the challenges of being a mum"

Section: Celebrity Mums

Becoming a mum is a magical time filled with newborn snuggles and the knowledge that your body grew this perfect little being, but sometimes it can be overwhelming.

It’s a huge change in lifestyle and responsibilities. There can be moments where you question everything you’re doing and just want to hide in the kitchen cupboard and ram Chocolate Hobnobs in your mouth to block it all out. I’ve been there. In the very early days I can remember the midwives really prying into how I was feeling – I smiled and told them all was rosy, even though I was shattered and broken. I felt like I was the only one ‘getting it wrong’, the only one who didn’t have a textbook baby and the only one to find moments challenging.

I should’ve been more honest with them, because they would’ve reassured me, I’m sure.

When I first came across mums online who were sharing honest glimpses of motherhood that looked like mine I felt relieved. I realised I wasn’t a bad mum and that we all carry with us high expectations and endless guilt. It gave me confidence in my own capabilities and I started to trust my instincts more (not all the time, you should check my Google search history).

My point is that many will feel that there’s a lot of judgement in parenthood, and most of that comes from the endless voices giving conflicting advice on how things ‘should’ be done. I love that the conversations have started to shift from ‘you should do this…’ to ‘I did this…’ or ‘have you tried…?’.

Perhaps I’m being overly sensitive about language, but it’s important to realise that your child is yours. And that although Susan down the road has strong opinions about co-sleeping or the use of dummies, you have to figure out what works for you and your baby.  After all, Susan isn’t there at three in the morning!

There are amazing places for you to hear from other mums in a non-judgemental way, which I think help give a boost regardless of whether you’re feeling like you need support or not. Firstly, find mums online who make you laugh and feel empowered. Have a little search and fill your feed with women who make you feel fab.

I also love listening to podcasts. I know I have one all on parenthood, but there are loads on all sorts of different topics away from sleepless nights and weaning stories. I find these help stimulate my brain – as though I’m actually having adult conversations! They simply make me feel a little more switched on and alive.

And lastly, rather than just listening to people, talk. Talk, talk, talk. Go out and start conversations, whether they’re to the old couple in the park who you pass every morning, or whispered mutterings of exhaustion to a fellow mum at a baby club.

Parenthood brings with it a raw vulnerability, because everything else, everything ‘other’ gets striped back and leaves you feeling exposed. There’s a beauty in that. This time is for you and your baby, so make sure you look after yourself. That way they’ll be getting the absolute best of you.

More from Giovanna Fletcher:

"8 smart hacks I've learned since becoming a mum!"

"Why I'll be 'mothering slower' in 2019"

"Since becoming a mum, I no longer worry if my jeans fit!"

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  • Author: Giovanna Fletcher Giovanna Fletcher
  • Job Title: Author, blogger and podcaster

Giovanna Fletcher is a Sunday Times bestselling author, actress, blogger and presenter who also writes a monthly column for Mother&Baby. She has a podcast called Happy Mum Happy Baby in which she has interviewed everyone from Fearne Cotton to Emma Willis around the highs (and sometimes lows) of parenthood. 

She is a mum to three boys, Buzz Buddy and Max who she shares with husband Tom Fletcher. 

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