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The (very good) reason why so many people insist on telling pregnant women how hard parenting is

Giving unsolicited advice is just one parent's attempt to help another parent avoid the challenges they went through.

The (very good) reason why so many people insist on telling pregnant women how hard parenting is

From the first day that women announce they are expecting, it can seem that veteran parents are waiting there, armed with an arsenal of unsolicited (and sometimes alarming) advice:

"Sleep now, while you can!"

"Enjoy being pregnant, it only gets harder!"

"Just wait, your life as you know it is over."

It's undoubtedly one of the hardest parts of being a first-time expectant parent. As if you weren't already overwhelmed with a million questions and concerns, somehow hearing your friends and family (exactly the people you are hoping will offer you a bit of comfort and reassurance) telling you how hard it's going to be is, simply put, just too much.

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But in all likelihood, your friends and family who are already parents aren't looking to scare you. So why do so many people seem intent on shaking up expecting parents? According to Northwestern University perinatal psychologist, Dr. Sheehan Fisher, it has a lot to do with our culture's failure to support balance during parenthood.

"It is a common complaint that expectant parents receive horror stories about how it will like to be a parent and, most commonly, that their personal life or marriage will be over once they have children," Fisher tells Motherly. "My clinical practice focuses on helping parents have balance during the postpartum period and going forward, so I have to battle the negative messaging that happiness and balance after children are not possible."

Because of this cultural emphasis on imbalance, Fisher says "many parents' experiences do indeed include minimal sleep and misery." This is especially true for moms, who place added pressures on themselves as they battle external pressure as well.

"We know that the change in gender norms has led to increased criticisms [of women]," he says. "Many mothers are culturally expected to work full-time jobs and be a full-time mother, which leads to criticism if they are not performing at 100% in either role, in addition to being a partner and other responsibilities."

With the added pressure that moms place on themselves, it makes sense that they would try to prepare friends, family and even strangers for a similar outcome. Indeed, for many moms, the self-imposed guilt of not being perfect can be the most overwhelming part of postpartum life.

In light of those circumstances, it isn't hard to imagine that some of that could spill over into moms perhaps feeling a tinge of desire to unload a little. "Even when they have an involved partner, mothers tend to feel both external and self-induced guilt if they are not doing it all," Fisher says.

And while this may be true for many parents, he says that your friends and family are actually, in their own way, just trying to share a bit of common ground. "Parents who endure this tend to not want to feel alone in this experience and have a desire to induct new parents into this shared experience rather than provide hope of the positive stories or lessons learned of how to avoid the same stressors," Fisher explains.

But, as moms-to-be prepare to embark on their own journeys to motherhood, Fisher argues that maintaining a positive mindset is critical. "Parents who go into the postpartum period already in a hopeless mindset are likely to experience negative postpartum symptoms, like anxiety and sadness, but also engage in behaviors that lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy," he said.

Another professional tip he offers? Be mindful of the media you choose and how it can impact you.

"Be careful with reading blogs because there dwells the majority of negativity," he said. Expectant parents "should look to examples of parents that they admire that demonstrate balance. If these examples do not exist, then they should consider how to break the mold by developing a postpartum plan with their partners to ensure that they work as a team to ensure they have breaks and balance, rather than being deprived of sleep and self-care."

Equally important, he adds, is to lean on your partner or support system as much as possible. "Parents who work as a team can schedule daily personal breaks, farm out certain duties to family or hired workers to minimize their personal burden, and stagger nighttime childcare so that each person can get a relatively sufficient amount of sleep," Fisher adds.

Here's the thing: Motherhood is hard, but it is also beautiful, fulfilling and joyful. We need to remember that when talking to those who are about to become parents. It's hard, but it is so worth it (and with support, it can be less difficult).

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By its very nature, motherhood requires some lifestyle adjustments: Instead of staying up late with friends, you get up early for snuggles with your baby. Instead of spontaneous date nights with your honey, you take afternoon family strolls with your little love. Instead of running out of the house with just your keys and phone, you only leave with a fully loaded diaper bag.

For breastfeeding or pumping mamas, there is an additional layer of consideration around when, how and how much your baby will eat. Thankfully, when it comes to effective solutions for nursing or bottle-feeding your baby, Dr. Brown's puts the considerations of mamas and their babies first with products that help with every step of the process—from comfortably adjusting to nursing your newborn to introducing a bottle to efficiently pumping.

With countless hours spent breastfeeding, pumping and bottle-feeding, the editors at Motherly know the secret to success is having dependable supplies that can help you feed your baby in a way that matches lifestyle.

Here are 9 breastfeeding and pumping products to help you no matter what the day holds.

Customflow™ Double Electric Breast Pump

Dr. Brown's electric pump

For efficient, productive pumping sessions, a double electric breast pump will help you get the job done as quickly as possible. Quiet for nighttime pumping sessions and compact for bringing along to work, this double pump puts you in control with fully adjustable settings.

$159.99

Hands-Free Pumping Bra

Dr. Brown''s hands free pumping bra

Especially in the early days, feeding your baby can feel like a pretty consuming task. A hands-free pumping bra will help you reclaim some of your precious time while pumping—and all mamas will know just how valuable more time can be!

$29.99

Manual Breast Pump with SoftShape™ Silicone Shield

Dr. Brown's manual breast pump

If you live a life that sometimes takes you away from electrical outlets (that's most of us!), then you'll absolutely want a manual breast pump in your arsenal. With two pumping modes to promote efficient milk expression and a comfort-fitted shield, a manual pump is simply the most convenient pump to take along and use. Although it may not get as much glory as an electric pump, we really appreciate how quick and easy this manual pump is to use—and how liberating it is not to stress about finding a power supply.

$29.99

Nipple Shields and Sterilization Case

Dr. Brown's nipple shields

There is a bit of a learning curve to breastfeeding—for both mamas and babies. Thankfully, even if there are some physical challenges (like inverted nipples or a baby's tongue tie) or nursing doesn't click right away, silicone nipple shields can be a huge help. With a convenient carry case that can be sterilized in the microwave, you don't have to worry about germs or bacteria either. 🙌

$9.99

Silicone One-Piece Breast Pump

Dr. Brown's silicone pump

When you are feeding your baby on one breast, the other can still experience milk letdown—which means it's a golden opportunity to save some additional milk. With a silent, hands-free silicone pump, you can easily collect milk while nursing.

$14.99

Breast to Bottle Pump & Store Feeding Set

After a lifetime of nursing from the breast, introducing a bottle can be a bit of a strange experience for babies. Dr. Brown's Options+™ and slow flow bottle nipples were designed with this in mind to make the introduction to bottles smooth and pleasant for parents and babies. As a set that seamlessly works together from pumping to storing milk to bottle feeding, you don't have to stress about having everything you need to keep your baby fed and happy either.

$24.99

Washable Breast Pads

washable breast pads

Mamas' bodies are amazingly made to help breast milk flow when it's in demand—but occasionally also at other times. Especially as your supply is establishing or your breasts are fuller as the length between feeding sessions increase, it's helpful to use washable nursing pads to prevent breast milk from leaking through your bra.

$8.99

Breast Milk Storage Bags

Dr. Brown's milk storage bags

The essential for mamas who do any pumping, breast milk storage bags allow you to easily and safely seal expressed milk in the refrigerator or freezer. Dr. Brown's™ Breast Milk Storage Bags take it even further with extra thick walls that block out scents from other food items and feature an ultra secure lock to prevent leaking.

$7.99


Watch one mama's review of the new Dr. Brown's breastfeeding line here:

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

Our Partners

I never wanted to be a mom. It wasn't something I ever thought would happen until I fell madly in love with my husband—who knew very well he wanted children. While he was a natural at entertaining our nephews or our friends' kids, I would awkwardly try to interact with them, not really knowing what to say or do.

Our first pregnancy was a surprise, a much-wanted one but also a unicorn, "first try" kind of pregnancy. As my belly grew bigger, so did my insecurities. How do you even mom when you never saw motherhood in your future? I focused all my uncertainties on coming up with a plan for the delivery of my baby—which proved to be a terrible idea when my dreamed-of unmedicated vaginal birth turned into an emergency C-section. I couldn't even start motherhood the way I wanted, I thought. And that feeling happened again when I couldn't breastfeed and instead had to pump and bottle-feed. And once more, when all the stress from things not going my way turned into debilitating postpartum anxiety that left me not really enjoying my brand new baby.

As my baby grew, slowly so did my confidence that I could do this. When he would tumble to the ground while learning how to walk and only my hugs could calm him, I felt invincible. But on the nights he wouldn't sleep—whether because he was going through a regression, a leap, a teeth eruption or just a full moon—I would break down in tears to my husband telling him that he was a better parent than me.

Then I found out I was pregnant again, and that this time it was twins. I panicked. I really cannot do two babies at the same time. I kept repeating that to myself (and to my poor husband) at every single appointment we had because I was just terrified. He, of course, thought I could absolutely do it, and he got me through a very hard pregnancy.

When the twins were born at full term and just as big as singleton babies, I still felt inadequate, despite the monumental effort I had made to grow these healthy babies and go through a repeat C-section to make sure they were both okay. I still felt my skin crawl when they cried and thought, What if I can't calm them down? I still turned to my husband for diaper changes because I wasn't a good enough mom for twins.

My husband reminded me (and still does) that I am exactly what my babies need. That I am enough. A phrase that has now become my mantra, both in motherhood and beyond, because as my husband likes to say, I'm the queen of selling myself short on everything.

So when my babies start crying, I tell myself that I am enough to calm them down.

When my toddler has a tantrum, I remind myself that I am enough to get through to him.

When I go out with the three kids by myself and start sweating about everything that could go wrong (poop explosions times three), I remind myself that I am enough to handle it all, even with a little humor.


And then one day I found this bracelet. Initially, I thought how cheesy it'd be to wear a reminder like this on my wrist, but I bought it anyway because something about it was calling my name. I'm so glad I did because since day one I haven't stopped wearing it.

Every time I look down, there it is, shining back at me. I am enough.

I Am Enough bracelet 

SONTAKEY  I Am Enough Bracelet

May this Oath Bracelet be your reminder that you are perfect just the way you are. That you are enough for your children, you are enough for your friends & family, you are enough for everything that you do. You are enough, mama <3

$35

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

Life

The American Academy of Pediatrics says that newborns, especially, do not need a bath every day. While parents should make sure the diaper region of a baby is clean, until a baby learns how to crawl around and truly get messy, a daily bath is unnecessary.

So, why do we feel like kids should bathe every day?

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