The realm of motherhood is an entirely new world -- it's magical and beautiful and filled with love, but it's also messy and tough and, well, surprising at times. This is why Nina Spears became The Baby Chick -- to help moms and babies during that first year, when they are figuring each other out.
You see, in 2010, Nina left the corporate world and worked at a local baby store, where she quickly discovered her passion for moms and their babies. “Over the past eight years, I’ve helped over 500 women and have supported over 200 mothers during their births,” said Nina, who became a birth and postpartum doula, a certified childbirth educator, newborn care educator, infant massage instructor, a licensed massage therapist and more. “My husband was the one who said to me that I should start a site sharing all of my tips and tricks to expecting and new moms, so that’s what I did -- to educate, inspire and uplift mothers everywhere.” In 2015, she launched Baby Chick, an online community that provides pregnancy tips, educational resources, postpartum support and parenting advice from experts and everyday mothers alike.
Nina is a mom now, too. And she knows firsthand how significant and challenging the transition to motherhood can be. Which is why, in honor of her son Liam's first birthday, she is sharing with us the things that surprised her during her first-year of motherhood.
Here are 6 things The Baby Chick wants you to know about the first year of motherhood that may surprise you.
1. Hemorrhoids after childbirth really suck, and it’s not talked about enough. In fact, a lot of things about childbirth are not talked about enough for women to fully prepare for the challenges of giving birth and postpartum. Add on trying to recover from childbirth, having engorged and leaky breasts, wearing a diaper yourself, sitting on a donut to heal your hemorrhoids, a house that doesn’t magically clean itself, food that needs to be prepared and eaten all while caring for a newborn baby that relies solely on you. Yes, motherhood is wonderful, rewarding and awesome in so many ways, but it can also be exhausting, overwhelming and lovely. Enlist family members, friends, or a postpartum doula to regularly help, as you heal and navigate this new role in your life.
2. As long as everything is medically okay, don’t overthink breastfeeding. Each woman is different, each pregnancy is different, each birth is different, and each postpartum experience is different — including my own. I try to always leave expectations and thoughts of what one woman’s experience might be at the door because her experience is going to be unique and her own. But more often than not, it’s a supply-demand type of thing. So listen to your baby and your body -- they communicate well with one another --, and don’t overthink it. Just keep trying and when in doubt, whip your boob out.
3. Finding your baby-work balance can be tricky. This is what surprised me the most. I knew it was going to be tough, but I didn’t realize exactly how tough it would be juggling working full time on Baby Chick and caring for my son full time. That's why I have significantly slowed down accepting new clients, and as a result, I have found a new rhythm that works for me, our family and business. It did not happen overnight, but with help from family, our team and hard work, everything is getting done and everyone is still alive.
4. Finding your baby-partner-work balance is even trickier. I feel very blessed that I get to work with my husband. But work can completely take over our personal lives, and it can be difficult to turn off. And then when you have a baby, it's easy to put baby’s needs ahead of your partner’s needs. Sometimes that is necessary for survival, but remember, your partner was there before baby. So try to make time for one another.
5. There will always be someone to give unsolicited advice or say inappropriate things. I felt confident with my choices during pregnancy because I had done all of the research for all of my options years prior and knew what was best for myself, my family and my baby. I wanted a midwife and a home birth with a doula and videographer. I wanted to breastfeed my baby and knew the right products to have, how to use them, what positions to try, and how to get support if I needed help. In order to tune out unsolicited comments and advice, you must educate yourself on the options that are available to you. The more you know, the more confident you become about the choices you are making, and the more those other voices don’t matter. Those unnecessary comments will always be around, but your knowledge of what’s right for your family will provide you comfort in the end.
6. It goes by so fast. I know everyone says this, but it’s really true. Cherish every moment, even the tough ones. Before you know it, you’ll be looking back to today wishing you could relive these moments.