The Truth About Maternity Leave

The other day I discharged one of my women on day 23. This may sound quite late to still be visiting women after they’ve had a baby but personally I feel that day 14 is too soon. Most women’s partners are back at work after 2 weeks and that first week flying solo is really tough. You feel like you are constantly breastfeeding and the thought of even getting dressed and leaving the house is too much to cope with. So you stay in your pj’s watching day time tv and eating chocolate biscuits, checking Facebook, taking selfies of you and your new baby and using those amazing Instagram filters to hide your bags.

I gave my usual schpeel about seeing your GP at 6 weeks, contraception, pelvic floor exercises, baby clinic and asked what her support network like. She rolled off all the classes her and her pals she’d met at NTC are going to do. Baby massage, baby sensory, baby yoga, swimming, power pramming, baby cinema. I was exhausted just thinking about all of that. I can barely fit in the 3 runs a week I am trying to do as part of my get fit routine this year. But I smiled a knowing smile and walked away thinking she will be just fine. It’s all a big learning curve.

Because all that stuff you throw yourself into during maternity leave is really to keep you sane and get you out of the house. And you don’t want to feel like you’re missing out or that you’re a bad mother for depriving your baby of any of those classes which are scientifically proven to increase their IQ (ahem).

So as a mother of 2 having gone through maternity leave twice and hated some days so much I wanted to scream and run back to work, I want to share with you the truth with some tips thrown in too, for your own sanity.

Not even Instagram's filter could hide how tired I felt

Not even Instagram’s filter could hide how tired I felt

Maternity leave is expensive. Once your mat pay starts to dwindle, all those coffees and lunches out start eating a hole in your purse. But where’s the pleasure in sitting at home drinking a Nescafe? Think wisely to saying yes to meeting friends for lunch. If you’re meeting work pals in town during their lunch break they should really offer to pay as they’re on a full time salary. If some of your new ‘mum mates’ live locally, take it in turns to host coffee mornings at each other’s houses. Offer to make a cake or if you’re living in the real world and have been up all night with your baby take a packet of chocolate Hobnobs. Chocolate always makes things better.

Baby classes are great but again so expensive. I paid for 10 mother and baby yoga classes at a local private gym. Total waste of money. My baby screamed during every position the teacher got us to do, even bouncing her on an exercise ball whilst singing ‘Row Row Row Your Boat’ didn’t end her screams. I ended up sitting on the side breastfeeding her for the rest of the class and lying when the teacher asked me if I was doing my pelvic floor exercises. And you know what I learnt? I learnt that my baby was highly strung and hated the echo and noise of that place and at that time of the morning she wanted to be fed and then sleep in her sling. Lessons learnt.

Maternity leave is a competitive game. It’s a constant battle of who’s losing their baby weight quicker, whose baby is playing with what toy, who’s getting more sleep, whose baby is reaching the next milestone. With my first baby I joined a postnatal already established group of 7 Mums. You know the saying ‘too many cooks?’ Well it was a bit like that. To this day 2 of them are still my really close friends but I found the big group meet ups stressful and one girl far too controlling and bitchy. It was like being back at school. With my second baby I already had friends with babies so I saw them separately and it was perfect. Everyone was a little more chilled and more into meeting up and swapping gossip rather than weaning tips.

Sleep deprivation pushes you to the lowest of lows. And once the night is over the day comes and babies don’t sleep for long in the day unless they’re being constantly pushed in their pram. This is tough. There were days were I wanted to be at home, getting house holds chores done, maybe do some cooking but my daughter like all babies wanted to be held, CONSTANTLY. Because that’s what babies do. They don’t really like those bouncer chairs for more than 2 minutes 24 seconds and no one can shower and wash their hair that quickly, never mind shave their legs. So my advice is get a sling if you have shit to do, or leave the washing and watch box sets whilst breastfeeding on the sofa. Stock up on loads of them now if you’re pregnant and reading this. Ask for them if your friends want to buy you presents for your baby shower. Breaking Bad and Mad Men are my top recommendations.

Self help books made me feel like an idiot. ‘How to get your baby to sleep through the night’ books and ‘How to get your baby into a routine’ are more challenging that the task itself. Don’t get me wrong, I know and have heard of many babies who have been trained to do this but not without a lot of stress and tears. A vivid memory of this was when my first baby was 6 weeks old and I was reading a certain book to try and established a routine to our misery. I was holding her in one arm as she screamed and scanning the pages of the book in the other trying to find the bit that said what I should be doing at mid day with her. The book clearly states that she can’t be hungry as I had fed her only an hour ago and she needs some ‘tummy time’ on her play gym. It was mid day, she was screaming and screaming on her tummy under her horrible garish play gym. I looked at this hideously stressful situation I was putting her and myself in. So what did I do? I listened to my maternal instincts, picked her up cuddled her and fed her. And I promised her that I would throw that stupid book away and never do that to her again. We made it through the rest of the day just fine.

You will feel like a failure and that you can’t do it. You know in labour when you said ‘I can’t do this is’ and your partner and midwife said ‘You can and you are doing this’, well remember that. Because all over the country and the world other mothers are thinking the same thing. You’re not depressed, you are just climbing the huge mountain of motherhood. And no one said it was easy, and maternity leave is on some days boring, and lonely and unfulfilling. And you crave your old life, and the job you left behind because you used your intelligent brain and felt stimulated and had proper lunch breaks and went for a wee without having a baby attached to your nipple. But you are doing just fine. Who cares if your baby is wearing a stained baby grow and you haven’t done the baby massage your were taught in those stupidly expensive classes today. All your baby knows and needs is you. And that can feel overwhelming in itself. And the sleep does get better, and adjusting to motherhood takes time, plenty of time. Mine are 6 and 3 and I’m still adjusting. Share your fears and anxieties with your mum mates because we need to be sisterly in all of this and be honest with one another.

And just when you’ve got into the swing of it all and your baby is eating solids, and sleeping better and holding toys and actually enjoying going to play groups, your maternity leave is almost up. And you can’t believe how fast the past 11 months has gone and you’ll be riddled with guilt and questioning everything. ‘Why did I complain that it was so awful, I’m going to miss my baby so much. Will my baby be happy at nursery/the childminder? Did I do enough? The answer is yes you will miss that small human you have spent every second of the day with for the past year and yes your child will be happy with the new routine of nursery/the childminder. And yes you did enough you survived, you will get a piece of your life back. And you will be a stronger human for it.

329 thoughts on “The Truth About Maternity Leave

  1. Wise words indeed! Couldn’t agree more (although I’ve still got a notebook filled with all the groups I’m apparently going to go to…so far I’ve made it to the grand total of one!).

  2. Brilliant post! Well said! I wish we didn’t put so much pressure on ourselves as new mums…first week in bed, second week on the sofa – and then gently does it – that’s my motto. x x
    I was guilty of trying to cram it all in with baby number one, and it was only on my way back from a baby class where both of us were in tears that I realised I wasn’t listening to her and was trying to follow the crowd – she didn’t want to baby sign, and honestly, neither did I! 🙂 Second time around I wasn’t in a rush and didn’t feel the pressure and felt so much better for it!

  3. This is such a great post and rang so true with my experience too. It’s fair to say I was shell shocked after the birth of my little girl, now 12 months old, about both the birth itself, and about being a mum. The first 4 months I felt like all I did was watch box sets while I breastfed or pumped (due to a variety of feeding related hitches). Then the next two months obsessed with all the “expert advice” that was making me feel like a failure! I’m just reading “what mothers do” by Naomi Stadlen which is brilliant and completely reassuring about all that time you spend seemingly doing nothing. Highly recommend it! As well as this post obvs…!

  4. So nice to read a modern Mum being so sensible the amount of DVDs, books and as for the ridiculous yoga, massage classes I roll my eyes. Women have not suddenly acquired the ability to have baby’s so just get on with it and leave all the ridiculous advise that so called experts give and enjoy your baby ladies.

  5. Just out of interest, where did people see a link to this post? Just trying to figure out where the track is coming from. Thanks to everyone for supporting my wonderful wife!

  6. Saw this shared on Facebook and completely agree, my first baby I did everything I could and felt guilty about the house not being clean, not giving my baby enough stimulation, not having food on the table for my hubby, 2nd baby I still feel guilty but just that I don’t do all the same things for her and she has less ‘friends’ it is all ridiculous this is a refreshing read and I agree enjoy your babies they grow up too fast will continue to follow your blog x x

  7. Absolutely brilliant and so very true! I’m about to have baby number 3 and will hopefully be taking everything a lot slower and not rush to do all the activities I did with baby number 1.

  8. Wish everyone would also stop trying to force the breastfeeding thing. It’s getting ridiculous. Women are made to feel useless and incompetent if they choose a different path and it’s unfair. They turn out just fine either way and it’s up to the individual to decide what she wants and what she is comfortable with.

    • I must admit, whilst I agree with a lot of things in this post.. and the lovely writer seems lovely. Reading the breastfeeding thing instantly got my back up straight away… Why not just say feeding… 😦

      I was in a position of formula feed or baby will lose more weight…

    • I must admit, whilst I agree with a lot of things in this post.. and the lovely writer seems lovely. Reading the breastfeeding thing instantly got my back up straight away… Why not just say feeding…

      I was in a position of formula feed or baby will lose more weight…

      • Hey Jenki2. Just wanted to stop and write when I saw you were upset. There is no need to take it personally, I am sure she did not imply that breastfeeding is best. Everyone has to do what works for them…not everyone can breast feed. It’s totally ok to use a bottle.

      • I never ever mentioned that breastfeeding was best. I was describing how I felt breastfeeding on the sofa/on the toilet. I would never start the breast/bottle debate on my blog

  9. I wish I had had this to read when my son was born! I’ll bookmark it for my next, so I don’t feel so unnecessarily overwhelmed 🙂 Thank you for your honesty!

  10. OMG, how awful you make it all sound! I’m on number 3 child in 4 years and honestly if it was as you described I don’t think I’d have managed one! Take heart any mums to be…it can be absolutely lovely (and you can have a shower lol).

    • Totally agree. I managed to get showered and dressed with every one of my 4, and clean the house and keep 3 other children alive whilst I had a baby. This blog makes it sound like you just have to hang in there until you can get away, back to the job that is so much more fulfilling than raising your children. the time goes very very fast and children don’t need a bigger house or more expensive shoes they need parents who are there and who had them because they wanted to be parents. I understand people need to work these days, the cost of living demands it for a lot of families, but to make it sound like an endurance event is awful. sleep when you can sleep, go out, stay in, do whatever you want but don’t pray it to be over that is a very big mistake.

      • I think the point if the post is that women end up praying for it to be over because they put so much unnecessary pressure on themselves with all the books, classes, competitive parenting etc. Once you leave that stuff behind it can be really enjoyable (even if it is still probably the most physically, mentally and emotionally tough thing many women will ever do, so in a way it is quite an endurance test regardless of how much you love it) but unfortunately many mums don’t realise until it’s too late and their maternity leave is almost over. Sadly this post IS the reality for so many first time mums, and that’s why they need to read it, so they can realise that they don’t have to put that ridiculous pressure on themselves and then they will probably get to enjoy it so much more.

      • Agree! It’s not universally awful! I would be depressed if I DIDN’T shower, clean or leave the house…while others may need that pj time on the couch watching DVDs. Everyone should do what works for them and their babies!

      • Totally agree. Motherhood is a choice not something to be endured. This blog conforms to those irritating smug middle class assumptions that drive me mad. Not everyone needs/wants or can breast feed. Feeling like yourself and fitting a baby into your life is better than running it around them. I never spent a day sitting around in pjs – it is not good for your mental state. Also swapping tips with others in similar situation is not always helpful but taking advice from older people who have been there and done it in the days when it wasn’t all baby massage and guide books is actually very refreshing. Parenthood is a journey and should be enjoyed – it isn’t perfect but then nothing in life is but take the pleasure out of it and enjoy the simple things.

  11. Just wanted to comment that you still feel the same as they get older too! Mine are 15 and 9 and I’m still not sure that I’ve done/doing the right thing / spent enough time with them / given them the opportunities that books say that they need etc etc! The only difference is that they can shout back (as my daughter is doing now because I told her that her nutritionally balanced meal of homemade spaghetti bolognaise is on the table !)

    Just keep putting one foot in front of the other. Occasionally my teenage daughter shakes her monster character off and tell me I’m doing a great job and she loves me 🙂

  12. This is brilliant. My baby is nearly two and I am still completely shell shocked from becoming a mummy. The best thing I ever did with my baby books was throw them away. The competition to sleep through (even now) seemed, to me, be the way of judging if you’re a good mum. If it was I was possibly the worst mum ever! How ridiculous that instead of basing my child’s obvious happiness, fact that she was/is thriving and that she is healthy was not basis enough for doing a good job! Mummies give themselves such a hard time its’s not meant to be easy it takes a whole load of guess to know what’s right just to find out it’s not right later. It makes me sad to think I’ve wasted so much of our precious time worrying and comparing to others.

  13. The first few months of motherhood are like a hideous boot camp but once you acclimatise and decide to do what is right for you and your baby it gets easier. DS1 had ‘failure to thrive’ and was put on a bottle at A&E, I spent three stressful months trying to re-establish breast feeding until one day I decided enough was enough! Once I accepted that it wasn’t all going to work out the way I had planned I started to enjoy being a Mum, I’m certain that the more relaxed attitude helped me breast feed DS2 until he was 5 1/2 months.

    As a Mum of two school boys I’m still making it up as I go along!

  14. I love this, Clemmie. Wish I’d read it before I went back to work after E. Reckon some real advice like this (or perhaps just this printed out!) should be handed out to mums and dads in those early days. Oh what a difference it would have made to my super stressy state of mind 😉 xx

  15. My biggest tip to all my new mummy friends and anyone who generally feels overwhelmed is get up and have a shower and put clean clothes on if that’s all you do all day. Everything feels better when your clean. If baby starts to scream just remember a fraught mummy With conditioner in her hair is not as snuggly and productive as a mummy that is clean and relaxed take baby in the bath room if need be in it’s chair and talk it through what your doing they soon learn that tiny essential routine that gives you both a bit of life. Having had 2 in under 18 months routine is useful but your routine not a book, eat, drink and sleep are essential coffee in MacDonald or a little cafe is cheap and the staff are far friendlier even cheaper church toddler groups you don’t have to talk just be. I love the sling thing and listening to your baby they are so clever even as new borne.

  16. Interesting article but don’t be so flippant as to say ‘you are not depressed’ it can make some women feel worse. As a mum who suffered PND being told by ‘helpful’ people I wasn’t depressed, just tired etc meant I delayed getting for to long and only did so when I reached breaking point. Otherwise an interesting read

  17. Such a brilliant article. I remember those feelings all too well. I am an expat living in NZ – I had my first baby here, but my sister (Who still lives in the UK) and I compared our pregnancy experiences….I wasn’t discharged from my midwife until i was 6 weeks post-natal which is a standard amount of time over here. I also received my midwifery care from just one midwife through-out my pregnancy. This ensured consistency and provided me with huge reassurance.

  18. All I can say is I wish! At the moment my I’m 2 weeks in to my mat leave and I spend every day in hospital sat by my little boys incubator, hoping he’ll be stable enough for me to have a cuddle! The rest of the time In busy trying to fit in eating, Sleeping, 2-3hrly expressing, seeing my husband, keeping my family in the loop! Meanwhile my nursery is still full of junk and boxes! So it would be lovely to have time to dream about baby classes and lunch and coffees etc, instead I’d rather just be able to hold my baby, when I want to!

  19. I do see your point, but please let’s be grateful for the mums before us who didn’t have maternity leave and fought long and hard for us to have this gift of time with our new baby. And if coffee prices and sleepless nights and baby classes are the only stresses of your days, exhale and cherish the time wich can not be bought. The mum who spends her maternity leave in the NNU, or even herself is in ITU will not complain about this. Or the millions of mums around the world who have little or no time with their babies. Pressures and stresses are out there for whatever you do in life, buy a house, plan a wedding, have a baby or getting a job – no point in taking it to heart, enjoy your baby, enjoy your privilige and ask for help when you need it. The challenges will continue, you are raising a human being, if you don’t stop to enjoy it will pass you by. And remember, you’re not alone.

  20. I am sitting breastfeeding my 5 week old gorgeous boy trying to work out how to get us both clean and dressed and at the breastfeeding group in 25 minutes…I know we’re not going to make it! Your blog made me feel just fine with that knowledge!! Thank you!! Your blog appeared on my Facebook page!

  21. To those ladies who feel the need to leave rude and negative comments – please don’t! Nobody is saying that what is written in this blog is fact, or that it is true for everybody – it is one persons opinion, that will also resonate with lots of other mammas out there…and in turn there are lots of mammas who will disagree – that’s the beauty of ‘having an opinion’.
    If you disagree – fine – but don’t ruin it for all of us who don’t – have your opinion in a respectful way, but leave the rudeness and negativity out of it. None of us have time for that and it really doesn’t help anybody!

  22. Love this blog… All do very true!!! I spent my first month becoming a clean freak and it would get to bed time n I would b cleaning lol. I believe slot of women get post natal as there midwives or health visitors sign them off to soon. Time does fly my lb is 2 years old now n I remember the days of just cuddling up on the sofa giving him booby milk lol. Miss those days… Time for another baby!!!! X

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  24. Thank you! I firmly believe that by women being more honest with each other we do ourselves more favours as a sisterhood! Great post xxx

  25. Nice read… But as ‘micci’ stated this us not the case for all mummies… Those of us with very poorly babies and who are poorly ourselves ..(. As in my case ) would give our right arm to have experienced such a ‘tough’ mat leave …Ho hum such is life x

  26. Oh my days I actually got quite emotional reading this. Such an amazing blog. It’s nice to read things like this that make you feel normal. And realise that yes, I am doing a good job. Thank you for lovely words 🙂

  27. Totally agree. I’m a mother of two boys and a childminder. I would like to add… Let people help you… If your friend offers to sit with your baby while you sleep/have a bath/shop/do nothing.. Say yes!!!! And if you intend to use childcare letting family or close friends watch your baby every now and again will help you both when it comes to going back to work 🙂

  28. Lovely article! Still envious that you girls get a year. We get 6 weeks in the US, and my hubbie owns his own practice, so he might take a couple of days. Babe # 2 due any day. Wish me luck!

    • Oh, I was just thinking the same thing. I’m halfway through pregnancy with my first, and it makes me sad to think that I’ll have the baby in June and be back to work by September. I’m fortunate that my employer has agreed to 12 weeks! Luckily, I’m a children’s librarian, so my boss and coworkers are extremely supportive and excited, so I don’t think the transition will be as hard as it might otherwise be, but who knows? So many unknowns still! I enjoyed reading this post, thanks!

  29. As a new, and very proud grandmother, it seems that present day new mums are also under so much pressure to “do the right thing” It was bad enough in the 70s & 80s when I had my two sons. The pressure to breast feed my first-born was too much and I ended up in tears over it so many times. What I should have done then, and what I urge all new mums to do, is to just follow your own instincts regarding your baby. My aim then was to rush back from the shops just to do some housework! As soon as I heard that cry my heart would sink. That’s no way for a mother to feel and I still remember those months with regret, guilt and sadness. I strongly believe that the companies in the baby business now are just out for making money. During my daughter-in-law’s pregnancy I was made aware of so much “stuff” that had to be bought before the birth it was just mind-blowing! Bringing up a baby has become a science, rather than a wonderful, loving and nurturing experience. Don’t get me wrong; being a parent is the most challenging thing you will ever do but the rewards far outweigh the times when you feel tired, helpless and alone. Don’t carry these feelings around with you; tell a loved one or someone you trust, how you feel.

    I am so proud of my daughter-in-law as despite many difficulties since giving birth to her son, she has persevered and always put his wellbeing first. As a result he is the most wonderful, contented, happy, smiley little boy – we are blessed.

    Good luck to all the new mums out there – you deserve it!!!

  30. Perfectly said, wish I’d read this before I started out on motherhood. I suffered terribly from PND first time round, half enjoyed it 2nd time, but third time round your blog still rings bells, thank you. The last paragraph is helpful as I anticipate returning to work. thank you, I will be sharing. pS I love ” you can do it, you are doing it!”

  31. I think this paints a bad picture and is very stereotypical. I dealt with alcoholic parent and all its glory, health issues/ operation, family problems and much more i also cared for horse eight dogs 12 cats all the poultry and still attended some swim classes with my little girl, started uni degree ran the house, cared for epileptic dog and babysat my neice and nephews, all following terrible pregnancy and hellish Labour, a year on i have flash backs, physio and many other labour related problems. Lets not forget women are designed to cope and be strong they have the instinct to do what feels right, we dont need kbow it alls to express their opinions. I do agree with some comments but really, if women cant cope being at home, should you really have brought a child into the world. Id swap lunch dates, designer clothes and friends to spend every single minute with my treasured baby girl.

    • and your point here is what… that you’re better than everyone else? you really are bigging yourself up in your comment (intentionally or otherwise) when this is a post about one person’s experience that seems to ring true with a lot of other people. strange you felt the need to list out everything you did, I suspected you might be one of those competitive mums that are symptomatic of the problem the writer is talking about.

  32. Somev good advice. I think the best bit is follow your instincts and if you honestly try to put your baby first as most mums do, you are unlikely to go far wrong. As mum of 4 (eldest was 5 when youngest was born) I can honestly say the only regrets I have are having pushed baby nos 1 and 2 into social situations when they werent ready. Both attended playgroup which was my choice. In hindsight I thought it would help socialise them. Now I know that time and patience would have worked better. First 2 awful sleepers 2nd 2 much better. This brings me to my 2 nd piece of ‘advice’: every child is different. Whilst I may have been more relaxed with no 4 I dont remember feeling any less anxious than 2 and 3. For no 1 we had no distractions and still routine didnt happen. She is still a fiesty determined child andclearly was from day 1. So when you feel inadequate or jealous when ppl tell u about their sleepers, in my experience the only variable is the child. Not yoy. Not you or routine or lack of. Also I work full time and never got as long as 11 months off. I did used to attend a local parent and child group butwhen no 3 came along this wasnt usually feasible. ( newborn 1 yr old and just turned 3 yr old was just too much for mr to manage with other young kids about!) I would advise anyone never to put yourself or your baby under pressure to attend anything unless doctor as just adds too much stress in my opinion. Finally as lots of experienced mothers have advised me ‘a happy mummy is a happy baby’. While im not always singing from the rooftops I do try to remember this in crisis times. Now mumto 8, 7, 5 and 3 next week yr olds I have to say and I cant believe this, but I’m loving that the baby stage is over and am loving all the fun that still goes on in our house every day. Parenting is so hard and in my house there are 2 chldren who never or rarely test my parenting skills and two who do daily. So youre lucky if u have an easy child but hang in there if not. The rewards are always amazing when you get breakthr oughs with the more wilful children And watch them thrive. Good luck to everyone still at the baby stage!

  33. I’m at the exact stage of the last paragraph and feel rather vulnerable at this point…cracking article made me shed a little tear xxxx

  34. Mine are the same age as yours. What you say is so true I was and still am blessed to be part of a mums. Group who meet weekly and the coffee and cakes are the priority. Keep the faith girls it does get easier and no one is perfect

  35. Oh this made me so emotional. You are right on so many points. Seven years down the line I look back and wish I had just sat and cuddled my babies more and ignored the books and the competitive mums out there. But hindsight is a great thing.

    • If they were her friends , Those on a full time salary probably wouldnt mind. Some people have groups of friends like that, thats what friends do. They do things for each other. By the sounds of it you dont have any friends otherwise this comment wouldnt have annoyed you.
      Probably got no kids either?

    • There’s always one, I love that that’s what you took from that beautifully written piece.
      she specifically said working friends, and I always offer to pay for the coffee/lunch when meeting friends on mat leave because 1. It’s polite, 2. I’ve been in their position and remember it well! and 3. They are my friend and thats what frends do.
      Moving on………
      Thank you for this article, exactly how I felt on mat leave, longed for a lunch break, some adult chat, joined every group known to man just to get out the house! My little boy is 18 months now, has adjusted great to our new back to work routine (and absolutly adores his childminder and the other kids there) but I just said to my husband the other day……I miss him, wish I could have more mat leave now that his wee personality is shining through. Those early days were a blur of feeding and exhaustion!
      Nice to know, we all pretend to be on top of it….but really we’re all thinking the same x

      • I’m fed up of this attitude that the world revolves around every mother and precious little baba. Us that work are already paying taxes which are handed out to foot others bills when they have kids, not to mention the companies we work for forking out for maternity leave. Why are we selfish if we do not then insist on buying “mommys” coffee. GaH! Annoying.

    • Lmao. If they’re a friend they would. They could return the favour one day. What an explosive reaction to the thought of treating a friend with a new baby to a spot of lunch!

    • For what it’s worth, Annoyed, I agree with you about that statement, though I wouldn’t have worded it as you have.

      I would offer to buy my friends lunch but I object to the way it’s worded “your friends really should offer to buy you lunch” – like if they don’t, they’re a bad friend. I don’t think anyone should expect someone else to fund their lifestyle and the way this article is worded, it seems to be telling people they should expect that.

      Perhaps instead of you missing the point, the author has badly worded it such that the intended meaning was lost. And before everyone jumps in and says “the meaning was clear” – that’s opinion, not fact, and my opinion is that it was badly worded.

      Would also nice if people could accept other people will have different opinions without resorting to childish comments like “you’ve obviously got no friends”.

    • I actually thought the same thing – your friends don’t *owe* you anything, so writing that those on a full time salary ‘should’ offer to pay sounds rather entitled. Perhaps it would have sounded less offensive to say ‘if you’re lucky, your friends will offer to pay for your lunch’.

      I would be quite upset to find out that a so-called friend of mine would *expect* me to pick up the bill because she chose to have a baby. If I offer, of course that’s no problem, but it’s the sense of entitlement that I find rather rude.

      The rest of the article was entertaining and reassuring, so I imagine it was just a matter of expression. And the OP could have expressed her opinion a little more thoughtfully, too!

    • ‘Annoyed’ you’re a complete rude-ass!! Unnecessary comment since you appear to have missed to point of the statement! Most people would offer to buy because they’re in the situation TO pay! all she is saying is if you can’t afford it don’t go!!

      Loved the blog, quite informative and my partner liked the honest insight!!

    • Chose to have a baby??!!!?? when and if your maternal/paternal instinct kicks in you may have some friends left who are not sick of your miserable, tight ways… they may CHOSE to buy you a coffee/lunch.

      • It’s a shame we can’t chose not to pay the taxes which are then handed out as child benefit, or chose to opt out of the massive bills the companies have to foot when their staff just walk out for a year to raise yet another precious little baba. etc etc…

    • Wow you need to dial it down. You either don’t have kids or friends with kids. Its about support and helping out a friend or even a family member.

    • Phrased quite harshly, and maybe the friends would offer, but I agree that I don’t think new mums should automatically expect their working friends to buy them lunch, or by extension pay for all social outings with non mum friends outside the house. I guess it’s about choosing wisely as suggested; if it can only be afforded because you expect the other person to pay then you should be suggesting meeting up at their house or whatever.

      • Even on maternity leave most of my friends have a lot more money than me and I would never be able to afford to shout lunch just because I have to be back in the office after.
        Lot of middle class assumptions being made.

        Also try council run Children’s centres. I’ve done baby massage and all sorts of other classes/activities without paying a penny. Sometimes there is even cake!

        Personally I’ve been very lucky in that my maternity leave hasn’t resembled the above. I’ve been lucky enough to breastfeed easily which does remove a lot of stress and being quite an active person I love going out each day to do “something” with my baby. I don’t do it because I feel I ought to I actually enjoy it. But this post has helped me understand how other people find it. To me the take away message is not to be too hard on yourself and do whatever’s best for you and your baby, which is something that people can’t be reminded of enough.

  36. Thank you so much! I have a few friends and relatives with babies planned or on the way and I wanted to find something to send that is the perfect balance between attachment parenting and having a life. I find having 2 kids – one 9 and difficult (cry it out and ‘trained’) and 13 mths; gorgeous, happy, chilled (attachment but with realism) – that I tend to be a tad preachy towards attachment. My youngest is much more content and I have always wished I’d done differently with my eldest. However I somehow seem to miss out the bit where you need balance in my bit to passionately express how “this is the best thing ever and please don’t make the same mistakes as I did!”

    What I mean to say is, in a round about way, thank you, this is spot on. 🙂 Xx

      • I think everyone has differing opinions as to how it is done. With anything. The best you can do is live your life how you see fit and be the best mum, partner, friend, person you can be and stuff worrying about the rest. 🙂 Xx

  37. Great post! My second baby is due in a few weeks’ time and while I’m expecting life with two to throw up new challenges (along with the new challenges a different baby brings) I’m relieved not to be facing the total first baby freak out as in the what-the-hell-am-I-doing phase. So true about doing cheap things and not worrying about classes much. My first didn’t really seem to enjoy much of that sort of thing and neither did I. I just went to a couple of chilled out groups, made friends, started visiting each others’ houses and that’s been exactly what we needed.

  38. A clear and concise summary of exactly how I’m feeling at the moment. Thinking I’m doing everything wrong, yet worried I’m missing the joy of what maternity leave should be….precious time with my boy.

  39. I have 5 year old twin girls and 11 month old twin boys. This post echoed so many feelings I have had. My last maternity leave made me feel so isolated that I went back to work when my boys were only 6 months old. I only work 25 hours a week but I need to do it to stay sane.

  40. I so recognise a lot of this from my first baby! So true. Was totally different with my second, even if I did have two year old round my ankles. You know what you are doing, you give into everything (including strapping yourself to the sofa feeding all day or evening during a growth spurt). Nothing is unexpected second time round and you throw those baby books out of the window and go with the flow! Because you realise that the best advice comes from yourself as no one knows your baby better, (plus you are so tired that you couldn’t care less what routine they are ‘supposed to be in’). You let go and just embrace it and appreciate every second as you also know how fast they grow!

    • You are lucky having an easier time, second time around. My second was the hardest of my three, by far. I wished that I had known that it could be harder rather than easier.

      Great post, thank you.

  41. Babies only take the time you give them, if you don’t give them your time they don’t need it, me thinks a bit of paranoia ‘my baby needs me, allowed you to let your baby rule ‘ that is creating a whole load of issues for the child as it gets older ! By always doing stuff that the baby wants make them as they grow older think its fine for me to behave this why mummy will fix it for me.

  42. So incredibly true. Every word. Those who are bing negative, yes there are always people worse off. We know that every time we watch the news. But when you are in the ‘eye of the storm’ of motherhood you need articles like this to make you realise you aren’t a horrible person or a terrible mother. Thank you!

  43. Thanks very much, you’ve made this already daunting experience feel utterly depressing. I’m 35 weeks pregnant and looking down the barrel of labour but was comforted by the idea that I could basque in the glow of spending my maternity with my brand new son or daughter, certainly I had rose tinted views of what this experience might be like but surely that was my privilege as a first time mum.

    • Hannah! I am having an AMAZZZZING maternity. Everyday I count my blessings. I’m chilled out, my hubby is chilled out and my smiley gorgeous baby is chilled out. Honestly it’s the absolute BEST BEST MOST WONDERFUL FUN!!!!!!!!!!! Please believe me ❤️❤️❤️

      • Thank you for saying this! I too had a wonderful 13 months of maternity leave, I loved going to all the groups and it wasn’t about being competitive or increasing my child’s IQ. I have always been a sociable person, and that does not stop after child birth, you just find other ways to socialise. I was part of a wonderful baby swimming class with 5 other intelligent and wonderful mothers who had just experienced having their first child too. Far from trying to out do each other, we were supportive, gave each other ideas and encouraged each other to be confident about our parenting approach if it had been challenged (usually by the in laws).

        We gave each other confidence and most importantly we had fun and bonded with our babies, without the worry of feeling isolated. All these articles and blogs I read are so depressing, I’m so glad that’s not how I felt, it’s an amazing experience that passes so quickly…TREASURE IT!

        And no, just because my partner went back to work, I did not spend my life in bed, in fact I just took control and made the effort to find a new little community of new friends to share and make the experience all the more exciting.

        I have to stress, as I hate these women hating articles written by women, I met wonderful mothers, who weren’t jealous, we’re not competitive and added to my maternity experience. Women supporting women and sharing a wonderful, unique and exciting experience, making it all the more special.

    • Hannah, it will be wonderful! It will also be hard at times, and you will be tired, but it’s all worth it and your baby will bring you so much joy! Best of luck with the birth, and enjoy your little one! Xx

    • Im sure its not as bad as this writer make out. Although it does sound awful after reading this. Im sure everyone is different and its what you make it. Good luck!

    • See, this is why mums need to be more honest about it all. When I was pregnant I was told by other mothers it’s the most wonderful journey..nothing beats being a mother..all true but no one tells you it’s the hardest thing you’ll ever do, you won’t know tiredness til that baby comes along so when you have those moments of “oh my god, why did I do this??!” And then feel guilty ( and a terrible mother!) because all the other mothers don’t feel like that, rest assured they have! Once I realised that all mothers must feel like this at some point or another I actually relaxed and stopped trying to be supermum I was happier, my beautiful little girl was happier! And once I was honest about it, it was amazing how many of the same mums admitted to it being bloody hard going. It does get easier but I think the point of this article is to not put too pressure or guilt on yourself. Or allow other mothers to do it without even realising they are.I don’t write this to bring you down but to pull you up when you think you’re losing your mind because you’re sobbing due to the fact you’ve ran out of cheese or something else as equally unimportant because we’ve all been conditioned to believe to be a good mum you have to run a house, look after a baby, look beautiful, have home cooked meals on the table all on 2 hours broken sleep.

      • Denise, I’ve got to say I felt exactly the same as Kathryn and I’ve talked to a few new mums and they felt the same way too. Mums/Parents should be more honest about the whole experience. Yes, it’s great, rewarding, etc. etc. but it’s as hard as hell and you need to accept and embrace this way before you have your baby. I couldn’t and my PND lasted 3 years…My little one is 3.5 years old and I’ve just started enjoying it.
        You do expect it to be difficult but you expect it to be great most of the time. This is why the truth (blunt or not) never hurts anyone.

        Great article btw. Really down to earth.

      • Really as soon as I was pregnant every one was like welcome to sleepless nights, nappy explosions etc. Your house will never be tidy again, your social life is over, sharing nightmare birth stories. I am surprised so many people feel they are going in with their eyes closed. Yes it’s hard but it is so worth it in everyway. Otherwise we wouldn’t keep doing it.

  44. I can’t believe someone was angry with this post, when its trying to support other mums & encompass all those aspects of birth & motherhood that are difficult, frustrating, joyous & wonderful. Well done an excellent post. Ignore people that bring you down. X

  45. I feel so blessed and incredibly lucky that none of this applies to me! My NCT friends are amazing and my life line-we have so much fun together! My baby loves classes and so do I, we both thrive on being out of the house and socialising. Thankfully my wonderful husband helps with housework, which is always secondary to the fun I want to have with our little one and friends. We are enjoying our maternity leave together, everyday. I thank you for posting this and making me know what I have and can appreciate it all the more. Im counting my blessings as I type. I’m so very lucky. Thank you xx

  46. I have no idea why but this has made me cry like my baby! Perhaps because it is a sound reality check. Goodbye 30 day shred, hello breaking bad. And hobnobs. Thank you!

  47. I’m in the last few weeks of my maternity leave with my first baby, you have summed it all up perfectly! I luckily didn’t bother with classes as thought it was costly especially if my baby girl didn’t enjoy it.
    I have a great network of friends with babies the same age and I am loving every minute if being a mummy, even when Ive had a lack if sleep! Thank you for this post it puts it all into perspective.

  48. This made me laugh so much! Currently on 2nd maternity leave with my 10 week old daughter and also have a 19 month old son – I know people say that was a crazy thing to do and some days I agree with them..!
    I am also an A&E registrar and let me tell you this – my social life after my son was better than before! I actually made friends, had coffees, visited their houses, went (and threw) various themed children’s parties! But at the same time experienced sleepless nights, poor personal care, stained clothes, never ending washing and, yes, tears as I felt that I’m doing it all wrong!
    Even though I don’t agree with all you said (I found a book quite good and helpful – but did not expect my baby to do everything exactly as the book said…) I think you are describing my life at the moment to the last detail!
    And to you expectant mothers out there – it is all worth it. Because it takes one smile from your 10 week old baby girl and the word “mummy” from your 19 month old son to fill you with immense happiness and satisfaction – they are growing to be lovely little people; hell, I must be doing something right!!!

  49. l don’t think she was angry,she was just stating how she felt .Motherhood is a big learning curve ,and each of us will go about it in different ways .l remember the first time l was on my own with the twins ,and my first trip to load the car up was an hour long!–enjoy those early baby days because they go so quick,as does time .Were lucky we have Maternity leave ,as some countries don’t .Just enjoy your baby,babies [singletons ,twins ,or triplets rofl !]…No baby is textbook,and sometimes reading too many books worries us ,and when baby isn’t acting according to Chapter 1,page 3 ,put the book on the shelf ,and trust your instincts x
    For everyone expecting,or just having a baby ,you will be fine ,Happy days are ahead xxx

  50. Yes motherhood is extremely hard work at times & yes it is truely demanding to have a little person who needs you 24/7 & yes there are days when you want to forget the world & curl up under a duvet & sleep for a very long time. But there are also days when your little one smiles at you for the first time & your heart melts just a little, because you think, ‘they do love me’. And there are those times when you share a new experience together & they dont scream, they actually enjoy it! And those times when they do sleep that little bit longer & you do have time to shave your legs & you feel amazing for the first time in weeks!!
    Motherhood is a rollercoaster, it has been for every women before & will be for every women in the future, but there is no job like raising a child, like giving your all to someone else so selflessly & watching them flourish everyday as they engage with the world around them.
    I love being a mummy &mI’m so thankful that I get this privilege.

  51. Brilliant!! I can’t agree more with all of that.
    Being a new mum is such hard work and we put so much pressure on ourselves about doing everything right that we sometimes just need to chill out and enjoy our babies.

  52. I love this. It sums up perfectly how I felt during the first five months of my maternity leave. Some days feel like a real challenge but I still appreciate how lucky I am to have my amazing baby boy. I go to a couple of groups, mainly to get me out of the house, and have met a few really nice mums that I’m keeping in touch with. Without going to those groups I think I would have struggled to meet other mums and that would have led to serious amounts of loneliness on that long stretch of maternity leave. I’m going to make sure I make the most of the next 5-6 months with my boy, I’m already dreading the part where I have to leave him.

  53. Oh, I also meant to say, I tried to follow (and by follow I mean read more than one chapter while exgausted!) Gina Ford baby training book. The best piece of advice I got was from my mum who basically said…….read all the books you want, but the baby hasnt read them, so he’ll just continue to do as he pleases regardless.
    Book went in the bin a day or two later and we managed just fine!

    • Ha ha. We read the gina ford potty training book, and yes my daughter just pleased herself. You have to go on your mothers instincts.
      My daughter was quite capable of using the potty and new when she would want a wee, you would ask her if she needed a wee, and she would sit and wet herself in front of you.
      I wondered if she was craving attention/reassurance as my cousin had just had a baby and maybe she felt pushed out (my nanna was her regular childcare by this point and my cousin and the new baby lived with my nanna). Sticker charts didn’t work, so I started to reward her with dedicated time with mummy, we can paint your nails tonight if you stay dry, or we will bake together, or anything. It didn’t matter what it was we did, but it worked instantly.

  54. I think this post is ace! I am currently 31 weeks with my first baby and so petrified of getting it wrong and being tired and looking like crap (more than I do right now!) This just reassured me that no-one’s perfect and I will cope. No pressure for lunch dates looking like Victoria Beckham with a 2 week old on my hip. I’ll just do it when I’m good and ready… and up to it!!
    Some people obviously are a bit dim and miss the whole point of this post

  55. This post is great, although being due in 2 days im now getting a bit scared lol.
    This is my 3rd baby, but my other two are 5 and 8 so it feels like so long ago that I did all this.
    The post made me feel reassured though, and reminded me to appreciate every minute with my new little man (when he decides to make an appearance). I know those first weeks are going to be particularly hard, but they are so worth it.
    Thank you for writing this. There’s some really handy tips and useful suggestions 🙂

  56. I loved this blog, my only bug bare with it is the comment “it’s not depression”. For me it was, and it was hard trying to get through it. One of the best ways I found to get through it (having suffered with my second pregnancy too) was to admit that it was depression and that it was OK. I was NORMAL and I was feeling normal things. By admitting it to myself and others it helped the pain and frustration ease and also helped others around me to be more understanding if all I wanted to do was cry and eat cake!

    • Glad someone else felt the same. I’ve just written a reply about the same statement in the article. I know the author means well but it’s a very unhelpful potentially dangerous statement to write “you are not depressed”. So many mothers (at least 1 in 10) are battling depression, an illness that hits them out of the blue. Yet they too can identify with the normalness in this article, it’s just way harder for them because they have to fight a cruelly timed depression on top of the normal toughness of motherhood.

    • I was just about to say the same thing! Fortunately for most people ‘you’re not depressed’ is true, but for some of us it isn’t. And while I loved the post and thought it hit many nails on the head, I passionately believe it’s important not to minimise PND (or any other MH issue) with throwaway comments like that.

  57. Good article, full of real life. I just have one request – please could you take out the statement “you are not depressed”. My heart skipped a beat because of how dangerous that statement could be to the 1 in 10 women who read this and have an untreated postnatal mental illness. This is in no way a criticism of your well written article, it’s just I know how hard it is for some women to seak help for postpartum depression (to pick one of the postnatal illnesses) and lives have been tragically lost because signs and symptoms have been missed. Some mothers are convinced how they feel is normal and the stigma of being a depressed mother is too great, so reading a statement in a compelling article like your’s that says “you’re not depressed” may add to that guilt and convince them to not seek help.

    I know you mean well and are using the statement to encourage many women, but please consider those who may read this who are very ill. PND is very common, a serious illness that can be mild or so severe that it takes lives. You can’t know who will read this and cannot unequivocally say that those struggling during maternity leave are not depressed. Please reconsider that statement.

    Thanks, no offensive intended.

  58. As a midwife but not a mum yet I think this is beautiful and and has got me thinking about my maternity leave in the future, it is a completely realistic and practical guide which I would love to share with my women, and the first thing I thought about the part about buying a coffee was guilt that I hadn’t thought if doing that for my friends, there is so much pressure on women to work and high living expenses that even if a woman chooses to have a baby there is nearly always a financial struggle, have some compassion!

  59. I have shared this on a PANDAS foundation page. We support women with postnatal and antenatal depression. Totally love the realism of this blog post. Even now on baby threes maternity leave I still feel guilty of the lack of groups. The best part of this maternity leave is seeing that cheeky personality of his slightly bigger brother (15 month age difference). So between looking after them doing school run for biggest brother there is no time for box sets barely time for lunch but wouldnt have it any other way-just wish I could have enjoyed my first maternity leave as much.

  60. When I was on maternity leave with my 3rd child (and last) my work mates made sure we met up once a month. It meant I kept in touch with the work place and got adult conversation. They bought my coffee in exchange for baby cuddles – all their children were in their teens, so they got to relive the baby years & smell and I got much needed coffee. It had nothing to do with our wages, it was just something we did. I see no harm in paying for a colleagues meal/coffee when they are off whether its maternity leave or sick or other. Its about the friendship & support not the money. Oh and never bothered with the groups either. I can’t stand the ‘my baby is doing this….’ business. All children develop at their own pace.

  61. It can be horrendous. You might be depressed – don’t rule it out. And baby timetable books can save your life if you take them with a pinch of salt. BUT it is worth it – even if it doesn’t feel like it today or even next month. X

  62. Thank you so mucho or writing this. My baby is 5 months old and I’m going through everything you described, as are most of the first time mums I’ve met in my groups. It’s so refreshing to hear how common these feelings are, and it put a smile on my face whilst dealing with a screaming baby. Thank you.

  63. Brilliant piece, I’ve just returned to work 3 days ( which I feel is the perfect home/work balance for our family) I was fortunate enough to have close friends on mat leave at the same time, and yes when pay was dwindling, we would go to each others homes or take a picnic to the local park. I paid no attention to books, babycentre, mumsnet, or even the snooty health visitor who suggested my baby is more likely to die of cot death as I moved her into her own room before the magic 6 months, when I challenged her she implied I had post natal depression…. best bit of advice I received was ‘as long as you feed her, change her and keep her clean, just use your common sense’ that bit of advice stayed with me throughout the first 12 months, which we made it through fairly smoothly. Mums put themselves under a lot of pressure to be supermum/wife, when it’s OK to ask for help once in a while 🙂

  64. My boys are 18 years old and 10 years old and I remember everything you have said!! How true and totally honest! All that you have said will prove to new mums that what they are doing and feeling is completely normal. As for the person that complained about buying coffee/lunch? Don’t know why they’re complaining – doubt if they’ve got any friends anyway with an attitude like that!!
    Well done x

  65. Chose to have a baby??!!!?? when and if your maternal/paternal instinct kicks in you may have some friends left who are not sick of your miserable, tight ways they may CHOSE to buy you a coffee.

  66. I wish you had posted this when I had my children (the last 26 years ago!) SO so right! I am glad my daughter is reading this as she prepares to go back to work after her second maternity leave!

  67. This is lovely but does no one spare a thought for those women who for whatever readon cannot have children who would love the opportunity to have days at home with a life they created? I think unless you really had to try for a baby you do not understand that sometimes all the moaning about being fat and tired seems so insignificant to someone who would just like the opportunity to have there own little bundle of joy x

  68. Oh, let’s all get an award for having a child!! No, people should not offer to pay at all. How dare you even insinuate that they should. You choose to have a baby, so you choose to pay for it’s upbringing too. Do one with the whole “woe is me” attitude. I have friends who are mothers who pay their own way. Friends help friends out no matter what, not just because they feel obliged to. This could have been a good article, but that flippant comment has ruined it. You don’t deserve anything more than another person just because you are a mother. Get over yourself!!

  69. Thanks for this post, really lovely and so true. I yearned to be back at work in the horrorshow of the first few weeks; I didn’t believe that I would ever get through it and couldn’t ever have imagined how much would change, what a funny little routine we would eventually find and what a wrench it would be to say goodbye to my daughter in the mornings now. It’s so strange that the first poster picked such a weird fight with a perfectly reasonable suggestion but hey, that’s the internet for you…

  70. Thank you so much for this article, it made me cry. It is so accurate, and it is a shame we put so much pressure on ourselves to breeze through motherhood. No mother if they are honest does. But it all makes you a stronger better mother and person with a learning curve that doesn’t stop! :9)

  71. As a fellow community midwife I found this post perfectly written to sum up how new mums feel, well done I will be quoting it to my mums during visits and as for the negative responses…..clearly not parents…….clearly have no TRUE friends….and clearly have no compassion! Again well done a fantastic piece if writing

    • I’m sure blog writers don’t expect everyone to agree with them. People are entitled to their opinion just as the writter is. Good on her for writting this, obviously lots of people habve related to it and found it useful but I just don’t agree with all the points she has made.

  72. Ha ha refreshingly honest and a good read. Luckily I got over the baby blues after 4 weeks. It’s the best and most rewarding job but definitely the hardest too. I miss my brain but have started crafting my own jewellery and selling vintage clothing on etsy and this is keeping my sane, as well as running when the partner gets home 🙂

  73. There are things that I can relate to in this article but the overriding sentiment is not one of them. It’s true that being a first time Mum is tough to get to grips with but let’s not forget just how lucky we are to have the birth choices and maternity rights that we do. I was fortunate enough to have an amazing home birth experience and a very calm baby but I know the exhaustion of growth spurts and the “challenges” of weaning. I’m approaching the end of my year off work and there have been hard days along the way…however, I look back at how privileged I am to have had this time to bond with my daughter over these important months, to have made friends (my experience = supportive not competitive) also off work to mull over our wonderment and anxieties at becoming a parent and the breathing space to go and shake a maraca, or massage a tiny leggy, or swing in the park and create memories that I will cherish forever.

    By the by I was glad to be discharged by my (lovely) midwife 10 days after the birth of my daughter. I’m sure that there are families who need longer but that is a professional judgement to be made on a case by case basis. Perhaps your ‘knowing smile’ was not necessary. Perhaps this Mum will not be going to classes to keep herself sane but to make the most of this time. Perhaps she will find that her baby will not scream through every yoga class and it is worth her while signing up to it. Perhaps she will find that a routine is not that hard to establish and that her baby does not need to be pushed around for hours to go to sleep. Everybody else’s experience does not have to be as your own. Just as woman can have positive birthing experiences they can also have positive bonding experiences.

    To those about to give birth…enjoy this most amazing time. Do what works for you, reach out for support when you need it, have faith in your instincts. If you hit a rough patch remember the old proverb “This too shall pass”… there’ll be a first smile or giggle or clap just around the corner that will make you beam again. 🙂

  74. Not a fan of this article. It’s enough to put people off having a baby! People who are reading this who are due their first baby do not worry it is not a constant struggle you need to just survive. Is it a holiday? No. I found breast feeding more of a challenge both physically and psychologically than I was prepared for. Yes it is exhausting. Is there anyone who doesn’t know that I’d be really surprised.
    Of course it is ok to have days when you dont get dressed and don’t go anywhere especially at the start when you are establishibg a routine but I think it is super important to get out and about for your own health and sanity even more than your baby’s. I’m pretty sure their IQ isn’t affected much but certainly I’m sure getting out and meeting other people has many positive effects socially and I could tell my daughter liked the classes I took her too.
    I suggest people go to their local community centre and ask about whats going on for kids. I was surprised how much we could go to for free and in walking distance. I went to baby massage, peep class, book bugs, jo jingles all for free. I met lots of other mums, some of them I’m still friends with some not but didn’t find any competitive etc. I just never had much in common with them.
    I do agree about books and ‘advice’. Do what you think is right and follow your own intuition. It doesn’t often let you down.
    The whole thing about going out for lunch is a bit absurd. Again I’m sure everyone reading this knows they will have less money and an expensive new baby but most people have saved up for maternity leave and most people are capable of budgeting. Is a good idea to go out for coffee/lunch everyday? Probably not unless you are a footballers wife but going and meeting friends is one of the joys of maternity leave. I would never in a million years expect someone else to pay just because I’m on maternity leave. If I can’t afford it I’d just suggest they come over to my house instead. Thanks for suggesting this again I’m sure we would never thought of doing this ourselves.

    Overall a bit patronising and overly negative. I think the point you are trying to make is that mums shouldn’t put themselves under pressure to be perfect which obviously I agree with.

  75. I can’t actually believe that someone called you a cheeky cow, on your own blog too! Totes missed the point of this fantastically written piece that is truthful and raw.

    As a mum to 2 and studying to be a midwife, I knowingly smiled at key points throughout! This was written about me! I am ashamed to say with my first I was a Gina Ford addict and drove myself insane following her routines. A lady who has just had her first baba asked me a question in relation to something she read from Gina Fords’ Contented Baby Book…I sat on the fence and tried to put a realistic spin on my answer but when I left her home I wish I had just said, throw the book in the bin and relax! We women sometimes just don’t believe our own amazingness….

    Well done on the blog Clemmie, and your instagram pics highlight just how gorgeous you are, not the tiredness! x

  76. At 37, I’ve no children through choice but I love my friends’ children & would always happily treat my friends & their little ones – coffee, toys or just babysitting to give them a break. I think the article is spot on in terms of expecting to be this ‘perfect mum’ – no book should ever tell you what to do – go with it & be honest with your nearest & dearest as they have far better advice/experience than any supposed ‘self help’ book

  77. Everyone has a different experience. My little boy is now 7 months old and we are having the best time ever!! Yes bits are tough, like waking up every two hours in the night and not being able to go to the toilet alone anymore, but in all honesty, when I look at his beautiful little face and those bright eyes staring back at me, I don’t care in the slightest! Breast feeding is more satisfying then anything I’ve ever done before and such a surprisingly difficult thing to start off with! 10 weeks of pain and then everything suddenly worked the way it should do! The fact that you can help a little version of yourself grow, and grow well, with something so natural that costs nothing and comes from you is a miracle and I recommend it to anyone who is able, to do it! My NCT group was brilliant support, both before and after the births and all 7 babies, mums and husbands are great friends and wonderful to be around, we meet up once a week at various places, from museums, cafés and each other’s houses for coffee, cake and a chat and it’s great to swap stories of what’s happened in the week and get some moral support from each other. We also have breakfast once every couple of months on a Saturday to involve the dads a bit more and get them chatting. I’ve been to classes too, including baby yoga, baby massage and baby swim class all of which were perfectly tailored to be relevant to baby and me and challenge us both in different ways. Also our local children’s center hold classes for free and are excellent! My friends without children have taken it all in their stride, as have we and everyone has been fabulous at work too! Visits to my office with my baby have been filled with cuddles and a nice cuppa! I don’t want to return to work and leave my child at nursery either, I can’t imagine anyone really truly wants to, but yes I agree with your last point that when he does go, he will have fun and it will give me a break… Even if really I don’t want one! Much love and I hope this gives mothers to be and people thinking about children the other side of reality, that infact having children is one of the best things in life you can do, so enjoy every second! 😋☺️😀

  78. This article is spot on! Just started my 2nd MAT leave and wish someone had said all this to me for my first baby! Person re the lunch buying thing has totally missed the point! Bravo on such good article is what I say!!! X

  79. I’m currently on maternity leave and this is a load of rubbish, all this stuff is common sense if you live in the real world before you get pregnant. You adjust and you accept things. This would put me off getting pregnant thank god I never came across it before hand. Best advice, do what you want to do and not what’s expected of you and don’t be ashamed if your not breast feeding and all the direct stresses which you will come in contact with. Personally I went into hospital with no plan or expectation, I breast-fed my baby and had amazing support by the midwives but now she won’t take the bottle, NO ONE EVER TELL U THE IMPORTANT THINGS LIKE THIS! My poor friend who couldn’t breastfeed got treated like dirt by the midwives, these are the things we need to share not stories like this!

    • I think one of the underlying points are that it is difficult to adjust and accept things – especially when you are functioning on 3-6 hrs of broken sleep. Clearly you are one of the lucky ones who breezed the early part of motherhood, but the article is not full of rubbish from my experience (and clearly the experience of others too). I didn’t breeze the first six months and find this article very reassuring, as it makes me feel less like I’m failing as a mum because I have days where I really struggle. I also breastfeed, but made sure my baby started taking expressed milk in a bottle around week 3 or 4 to ensure that she wouldn’t refuse it later on – lots of information about this out there if you read books/talk to mums… clearly you were too busy living in the ‘real world’…

      • Lol! Calling from the real world….
        I’d seen my pregnant friend had been posted this god awful blog on Facebook so thought I’d have a look to see if I’d had a reply…
        She was given a bottle at 4 weeks old… Did read books never came across babies rejecting bottle, but I am now aware it’s very common!

        Still think it’s full of rubbish. Some people just love moaning.

  80. What about the people who can’t afford to take maternity leave, self employed sole trader, not so much for the sake of money but for the sake of keeping our businesses running and having a job to go back to after being off, I could probably take 6 weeks max 😥

  81. This article brought a tear to my eye, because it sums up so many of the feelings I’ve had over the last six months since I have been on maternity leave. Luckily my NCT friends are great and the baby groups have (mostly!) been a saviour. But I have days where I am so bored, then I feel guilty for being bored, and I’m lonely, and I’m failing because my baby won’t sleep in her cot/for long enough or because the flat is a mess etc, etc, and I’m probably failing at work too (because always in the back of your mind is, ‘is my mat cover doing a better job than me’). As for friends buying coffee/lunch – nice if they do but I certainly wouldn’t expect it and I would return the favour when earning again – not sure why so many people are fixating on this small throw-away sentence that is probably more to emphasise that it’s difficult to take the salary drop than to say people should buy those on maternity leave lunch.
    To those who are expecting – motherhood is the best, but read this in a few months time and you may find it reassuring that you are not the only one, rather than daunting, unless you’re one of the lucky ones who takes to motherhood like a duck to water. And even if you find it more of a mixed bag like I have, it is hard work and emotional, but it is very worth it – nothing else matters when you hear your little one giggle or when they smile at you. I wouldn’t have life any other way now. I wish I had read this before giving birth – then maybe I wouldn’t have put pressure on myself to carry on life as normal and instead been more relaxed and enjoyed more time with my newborn, which, ultimately, stressed me out… and it’s true that time goes very fast.

  82. Honestly, motherhood is damned hard work – it’s full time plus, exhausting and rewarding. We give ourselves a very hard time and this article is bang on.

    For all the people moaning, surely you can see that it’s different for all of us in all of our different areas. I came across plenty of competitive mums who I choose not to socialise with and others who I am still friendly with but I didn’t have a “group of mums” to speak to when I had a hard day. There isn’t much free in my area either. Maybe just stop being annoyed, it wastes energy.

    • Mama Bee the whole point of a comments section is to invite debate.

      Hmm yes that’s exactly the point – it’s different for all of us. The article claims to be the ‘truth about maternity leave’ and is written as though this is the only truth. The ‘knowing smile’ the author gave a lady in her care who planned to enjoy hers is quite rude. Many people have great mat leave experiences.

      It’s a very negative article and potentially unhelpful to expectant first time mothers wondering what on Earth they’ve let themselves in for. If you have a rough ride in the beginning…well buckle your seat belts because it’s about to get a whole lot worse. I can see why they might not bother leaving the house at all.

      Definitely check out your local council website because there are stay and plays at local libraries and community centres throughout the UK. You are missing a trick there.

  83. I think you needed to add on the end that we believe the time is so precious we do it over and over again! It doesn’t matter how bad it might seem, we go through it many times and sometimes never learning or changing from the time before. So easy to criticise ourselves once its over and hindsight is a wonderful thing xx

  84. Some good points but yet another slightly patronising article to make mothers who found breastfeeding really hard and chose to bottle feed feel completely inadequate.

  85. I found this article insightful and I am going to save it in my favourites because it is things like this that are far more helpful than help books (which I would never buy for any situation since they appear to have been written by people who have never experienced real life!)

    I have to say, though, I do agree with what people have said about buying lunch… “they *should* really offer to pay”… I do choose to help my friends out when needed but I certainly would not be happy if I thought it was expected of me! So sorry to say, that bit stood out for me too.

    However, that was just a part of the article and for me it did not detract from the rest of the interesting and useful tips held within so, definitely saving this… and will buy lunch for whom & when I choose 🙂


  86. Well done for summing up my last 9 months so concisely and articulately. I am just coming to the end of my mat leave and your final paragraph made me well up as it’s exactly how I’m feeling so your words were very encouraging. I will share this with my friends who are about to have babies. Good luck to you xx

  87. Thanks for this. Good read.
    I got to the end of my maternity leave and had a bit of a crisis. I’d done occasional coffees, some classes (nothing expensive) but I ultimately ended up feeling… I haven’t made enough friends! I have no ‘support network’!
    In the early weeks the health visitors really push you to go out, connect with your post natal group, etc etc. The reality of my post natal group was a handful of ladies from the other side of town, most of whom had already met and bonded through NCT. Seems to me that if you have made strong connections before birth, there’s no room in your circle for new people. It’s been months since I spoke to anyone who has a boy my son’s age for him to play with.
    I had a friend that went to EVERY class and met EVERYONE and knew EVERYONE. If I hadn’t got her phone number at my free antenatal classes, I honestly think I’d have stayed at home for months. That said, she was so outgoing I was very much in her shadow and never really got to talk or connect with people. God I suck.
    My advice… If you’re going to do a breastfeeding holiday (stay in bed,feed, sleep) for goodness sake do it before hubby goes back to work. Or you will NOT eat. Eating is a good thing.

  88. Having a baby was nothing like I expected. The lows were definitely lower than I could have ever imagined, but the highs were far higher….in fact, they were soaring, lofty, mountainous. It’s totally worth it, so don’t worry.

  89. This article summed up my maternity leave and now that I’ve realised that I can cope and we will both survive and no, the hospital did not make a mistake by letting me take this tiny thing home on my own, I feel guilty that I didn’t enjoy my mat leave. It’s reassuring to hear that others feel the same way as you tend to punish yourself constantly and assume that you are a ‘bad mother’ and 10k+ shares on Facebook show I’m not the only one! But here’s the thing – I would do it again, just this time I would sit on the sofa and feed as much as he needed, I would cuddle him all the time without worrying about spoiling him or a ‘routine’ because he has turned out just fine, even with me muddling through without an instruction manual! I only wish I had read this 19 months ago.

  90. Whilst I do understand the challenges of newborns, I had my daughter and felt those difficulties. But then had twins, 14 months later. of whom passed away when they were a month old. What I wouldn’t give for the normal challenges of newborns and maternitylleave. Yes it’s good to be honest and support one another, but I got one 10mins visit from a health visitor when I brought my surviving twin home with out his brother. Motherhood is challenging, but it’s a privallage and if your lucky enough to hold your baby in your arms and care for that baby then after a tough day at least you know you held them.

    • Hi,in your reply to More to Motherhood ,you wrote a reply today at 1051 am,sounds like you had a real tough time [reading between the lines ],am sorry you lost your twin son,and didn’t bring him home along with your other twin sibling ,sorry don’t know if your twin at home is a boy or girl,and what there name is ?—,and for your beautiful boy whom you didn’t bring home ,when your other twin grows up,dont be afraid to talk about them ,l had twins through a surrogate Mom home passed away 18 months ago in the States ,and even though she may not be here today ,l have two children whom are hers through Traditional surrogacy ,and am so lucky ,and for all you Moms out there,blogs are started to share ,and support ,and l think in this world ,we should support each other ,and respect each others opinions ,and if you see a Mom that perhaps may not “fit”–into your Nct group,or your social set ,it doesn’t take more than a Hello –to say ,Hi,-Motherhood ,comes in all shapes and forms ,as does Fatherhood .So personally l don’t care if my children mix with with the in crowd ,or the out crowd ,but for me l want them to grow up to be caring,kind,aware that we should not be afraid ,and do the best we can in an ever revolving world ,and no one is perfect at the end of the day ,and no one is better than anyone else .Be lucky you have your childrens health ,enjoy them,for those Moms whom have poorly children ,support them ,and don’t be too hard on people that start blogs ,they are Moms ,and hugs to the Mom wrote this reply to x

      • Thank you for your thoughtful reply, really kind of you. It was/is a difficult time, loosing a child is a life changing thing that leave your heart broken forever, with greater sadness that his brother has also lost his twin too. It sounds like you are a wonderful mum and also really know how important it is for women to support eachother. I guess I just wanted to add my bit, because loosing my baby boy has been very hard for people to understand because there I was still holding his twin brother, pushing him in his buggy,b feeding, sleep deprived, so surely I was ok …I had a baby. …but the situation was very different to how it appeared, what I wouldn’t have given for a experiencing all those things with my lost son too.
        Thank you for taking the time to reply x

  91. Being honest here….it took me to the bottom of your post to get where you were coming from. And now I’m jealous. As a person who only gets 6 weeks of maternity, I cherished every single day, never wanting to leave the house, never wanted to let anyone hold my baby. I really need to relocate if I have another.

  92. Thank you for saying this. I really enjoyed having my midwife come to visit me – my son, at first, had lost a lot of birth weight and she was there supporting me all the way. When he started gaining (he’s now a 98th percentile chappy) and regained birth weight I was discharged. He was a home birth and I felt so comfortable with my midwife I was very sad to see her go. I am supported by my HV but just don’t feel that connection and feels she gives textbook advice, nothing tailored to me.
    I’m having a really rough time with number 2 and I miss having that relationship and support I had from my midwife. My HV is great but I am glad to hear from someone else that these ‘experts’ who write books and brag don’t really know it all. We know it all, we”ve been there and done it and got through it.
    I’m a SAHM who is proud of what I do and I know that any job I have had before has not been this stressful; emotionally, physically or psychologically.
    So what if my 15 month old son wants to sleep in bed with me cuddling me – when he is 15 and wants nothing to do with me I will yearn for these moments and happy that I took ’em while I had ’em.
    Do what is right for you, not for your friends or parents or other mums at the playgroup. You and your children will be happier and healthier for it.
    Thank you for being a Midwife, Clemmie. It is wonderful knowing there is someone like you out there supporting new mums.

  93. I felt very much the same. It was a blur and the first 6 months were pretty horrible. I didn’t manage to get my son to nap without screaming at me until nursery sorted it out for me when he was 12 months old.

    I’ve always been pretty careful with money and I did know that my son not having naps when he needed them was disastrous for night time sleep so I never signed up to any courses. All I did was go along to sure start and library groups (which are free) and the occasional Mum and Tot group (which were normally reasonably cheap but when one group bumped up their prices I had to stop going. Amazing now to think £2 can be too much money but when you’re not earning it is.)

    As I only went to the groups you didn’t have to commit to, I stuck a list on the fridge of when they all were and where so if I was having a bad day at home, I could look at what was on and get out.

    It’s funny, I never had a time in labour I thought I couldn’t do it. I was really prepared for labour and it went really well and wasn’t as painful as I thought it would be but looking after a baby was much harder and I didn’t feel prepared at all.

  94. This struck so many chords with me. I was that soldier, I remember going to 6 baby massage classes (free thank god!) we had a hospital appointment for 1. For 2 others I had to sit on the sidelines and apologise for my screaming refluxy colicky baby disturbing the others, of course the instructor wanted me to stay and observe, and I did instead of following my instincts and going for a walk with my son.

  95. How interesting your blog came up on my FB. When I was a midwife we handed over to the HV at 17 days but continued to visit until 28days. The families were still on our books and the HV until school age handed over to the School nurse. I’m sure you would agree that it was the greatest form of family care AND CHILD PROTECTION

  96. I’m not sure why your colleagues should have to pay for your lunch. I would never expect anyone else to pick up the bill for my decisions. If someone has a bigger mortgage than you do you buy them lunch?

    • Thank you! Could not agree more! Rest of the blog is great but you should never expect others to pay for your lunch/outing! Just plain rude! If you can’t afford it don’t go!

  97. So good to read somthing so honest. U hit the nail on the head. Im back at work 6 months now. I have a 1 and half year old bundle of love and tantrums. And no idea how i coped for a year without nursery giving me a break (that is work)!!!

  98. Hi Clem, Claire here, Matilda’s mum. Congrats! I just Simon’s Facebook post. Absolutely nothing patronizing here, just one mum explaining how she and a lot of mums feel. If you didn’t then lucky you! I know I experienced all the things you described and more. I was prepared for the sleepless nights but not the monotony, made worse by lack of sleep. Thankfully I met you and some other lovely mums, who kept me sane in those moments of need. X

  99. This was a great read. Realistic and honest.
    I knew everything about parenting – and then i had my daughter and realised i knew nothing.

    • If they like it – mine hated it and screamed her head off each time – I persisted for about 5 sessions and it didn’t improve. It’s not for everyone and no-one should feel under pressure to do it.

  100. Pingback: The Truth About Maternity Leave | Mary's Moments of Madness

  101. I came across this from the other way round – as a man – I was made redundant and ended up unexpectantly being full time carer. My wife was denied her position that she wanted through circumstance. As a man attending all those classes with the baby was really hard work. Many mothers were suspicious, some hostile, but one or two were truly lovely and understanding (that saved me from going slightly mad). Mr H (baby) Loved the classes and they became the only point of social contact I had other than he and I. It was terribly lonely. Going for coffees was not an option, few men hang out with dads with babies and even less women are accepting of coffees too from ‘broken’ men. But this was the back end of Brisbane (Aus) where attitudes may be different to the uk. So I get the isolation of the author but from a different angle – almost like looking through a plate glass window at the interactions on the other side. So if you see a man with a baby and he is the sole carer – remember the isolation and difficulties you had – but also remember that most groups are closed to him – so please – say hello and give him a well done.

  102. This is a great article. I live in the USA, and we only receive 8 weeks of paid leave. Luckily I was able to stay home for 16 weeks when my baby was born. As exhausting as it was, I would’ve given anything to stay home for longer. I was heartbroken returning to work, but we really did adjust just fine to our new routine after a little while. Enjoy, Mamas!

  103. This is what every new Mom should read when returning from the hospital! I’m about to have my 3rd Baby, and it is a good reminder as my last maternity leave was 4 years ago…! Thanks for writing so authentically 🙂 love from Paris, France!

  104. “Maternity leave is a competitive game. It’s a constant battle of who’s losing their baby weight quicker, whose baby is playing with what toy, who’s getting more sleep, whose baby is reaching the next milestone”

    Great article! I am a 20-something male with no children (& therefore probably have no authority in this comments space), but in terms of headspace, surely motherhood should be about a selfish focus on yourself & your baby. Nothing else really matters. Who cares if Karen & her baby have been to baby yoga? Who cares if Karen has shedded a load of weight post-birth? I feel sorry for people who view life as a competition, and getting sucked into that way of thinking will only make your life more miserable! Especially when it comes to YOUR CHILD. There will always be showy mums, loud mums, bitchy mums. But who needs them?? Certainly not their babies, so they shouldn’t bother you!!

    *I wrote the above before reading further, and you come on to say there is no defined way you should approach motherhood. View it as a fantastical sleep-depraving adventure, & carve your own path for you & your baby! Agree!!

  105. Pingback: Stop the ride, I want to get ON! | The Diary of an Insecure Mother

  106. Thanks for an honest view. I’m 16 weeks pregnant with my first baby and looking forward to maternity leave, but glad of a bit of insight.
    I have a memory of sitting in a restaurant having lunch with a friend who was on mat leave. She was telling me that she had just paid off a massive chunk of her mortgage and now owned 60% of her house so she was now getting a much better rate on her mortgage. No way I was paying for her lunch that day! Plus, she invited me out, not the other way round…

  107. “If you’re meeting work pals in town during their lunch break they should really offer to pay as they’re on a full time salary”.

    What world do you live in?

  108. I feel greatful for this article as it makes me thankful for what I have and how I’ve spent my mat leave. I disagree with something’s but agree with some too. I have totally enjoyed every part of of having a child except giving birth. I think I have enjoyed the process due to coming out off an abusive relationship and compared to that having a child is easy. The second thing that helped me was the New Beginnings health nurse. She said to do what I wanted, go with the flow, don’t compare your baby or situation and not everyone will like you and not to worry about those people who don’t as they aren’t meant to be your friends. This helped me be myself , say no if I didn’t want to do something and I realised it’s my life I can do what I want.

    I agree about the coffee catch up thing it does burn through your money. I also agree about all the competing, I hate the fact that a lot of the mums I know whinge about the sleep pattern or what there baby is doing and if you don’t whinge with them your out of the loop. So I found that doing Playgroup, mothers group and another group. I found a few friends that were normal. I do think the baby groups like baby gyms and yoga are a waste of time but I have found a few groups that were good like Mums in Action, where you take you baby and work out. I took my baby to swimming and she loved that but it’s all about what you enjoy and what’s good for your baby.

    I think I have utilised and enjoyed my mat leave the best I could and I’ve made sure to do what’s best for me not what’s best for Everyone else.

  109. I am a single parent have been on my own since my baby was born. He is now 7 months. I have been on maternity leave for the last 9 months and will go back to work next week. Looking after my baby has definitely not been as hard as this. I was discharged from hospital on day 3. I found a baby book that was useful and followed all of the advice and I have a baby that has slept through the night since he was 10 weeks old. He sleeps from 7pm until 6am every night. He would sleep 5 hour stints as a newborn and from about 2 months he would sleep 2-3 hours up to 4 times a day. I managed to get everything I needed to get done around the house done in that time. We did mothers group once a week and once a week caught up with my friend and her two boys at a local coffee shop. Other days I would spend with occasional catch ups with family, other mums, swimming at the pool or beach, shopping, mum and bubs movie sessions etc. On weekends I would catch up with friends that didn’t have children. I never expected them to pay for me, I would have declined to meet them if I couldn’t afford it. At no point did I “feel like a failure and that I couldn’t do it.” I am not boasting or saying I am better, I just feel that before I had my baby, some of my friends with babies and a lot of articles said this, and I was worried that this negative period was coming and that I wouldn’t be able to cope. For all the mum’s to be, yes, you may have an experience like this. Or you may have a great experience. Or you may have great days mixed with with hard days. The last 7 months of my life has been the easiest, most relaxed and most fun time of my life.

  110. I love you right now this is my thoughts and opinions I’m glad I’m not the only one that thinks this. It’s lunch time and school Xmas holidays (Australia ) I’m still in my pjs listening to my miss 4 and miss 6 run around doing arts and crafts (making a mess) while mr 3.5 months wanting to be held 24-7. House work seem never ending or a the classic “I’ll do it later” which never comes. With my two older girls I went with the flow and did what I wanted. Care free didn’t care what I look like but I was stress free and happy. Now residing in a new city and a suburb where mums wear exspensive gym clothes and are fit skinny and toned whilst there hair and make up are to perfection. I felt alienated. So I try to do what the mums do here joined mum exercise groups go out for coffee etc. I surcomed to the competitive game that mums play. Who’s the best. Now I’ve realised I loss myself who I truly am and with only two weeks of paid maternity leave left I feel angry I let myself get caught up in it all. Now I’m back to chillin in pjs at lunch and jamming to music while my kids run riot. And hanging out with one mum who has three under 3 and in the same boat we just laugh and giggle time away. Beach park or at each others house.

  111. Just wondering where this post originated from. Found this blog as it was shared by a friend of mine on Facebook. I live in USA. We only have 12 weeks of maternity leave. I am so jealous of this what sounds to be 12 months of maternity leave. Wow! I can relate though. Cute blog.

  112. Lovely to read! It’s not easy and everyone walks about feeling pressurised and guilty. Everyone has something to say and rarely for the better. Yesterday a woman passed me who was out with her daughter and newish born and said ” bad luck” as my baby was crying!! He has reflux and was in pain .

  113. I have now have 2 daughters 4yrs and 4 weeks ,this blog made me cry because everything is true(I may also still be hormonal)Its just nice to read something so real,I suffered with PND first time round but am happy this time, thank goodness!! Lovely blog.Thank you x

  114. Loved this post when you wrote it but didn’t get chance to comment before it went viral, and now I’m enjoying coming back and reading new comments.

    It seems almost ironic that there’s quite a few comments indulging in the same bullshit competitiveness that you mention in the post itself! Whoopeedoo, your baby slept 23 hours of every 24 and maternity leave was easy for you. Whoopeedoo, your 10 perfect children are perfectly behaved and you manage to fit in perfect little education activities into your perfect days. Whooopee-friggin-doo! *rolls eyes*

    Just wanted to offer my belated ‘great post’ sentiments, anyway 😉

  115. Oh this is soooooo true. My eldest had colic and we were always both in tears by the time my other half got home from work. He told me that the only thing I had to achieve by the end of the day was for me and the baby to still be alive, which was the best thing he could have said to me. It took the pressure off trying to keep up with the mums whose busy social lives just seemed to carry on and who continued to look immaculate while I was still in my PJs at 3pm. Even grabbing a shower was impossible – my neighbour offered to pop over and watch the baby if I wanted a shower but I declined, thinking that she would think I was a useless mum. I realise now that she just knew exactly what it was like being a first time mum with a newborn. All new mums should read your most excellent post x

  116. Lovely blog and partly true. But i found the comments far more useful, im glad in not the only one who feels breastfeeding shouldn’t be forced. Having had my first baby only 8weeks ago i struggled for 10days to breastfeed, only having left the house twice within them 10days once to visit my gp for help with latching her on. The other to visit her great grandparents, we timed the visit so that she wouldn’t need a feed there as i wasn’t confident enough to do it. After no sleep and terribly damaged nipples and mastitis all i did was cry and feel a failure. It took my partner and mum to take over and put her on formula. I still feel guilty for not coping with breastfeeding and putting her on the bottle but within 2 days i was back to my happy self and enjoying the most precious little girl and the time we share together. The guilt only came from being pushed into breastfeeding….if you want to do it so it but if you cant and feel a failure don’t, just enjoy what you have!!

  117. I loved maternity leave. I loved it so much I ended up becoming a work at home mom so I could stay home and spend all day with my son. I’m not saying that this isn’t true. It most likely is for most women. I just don’t fit this typical mold. I loved being pregnant, I loved changing diapers, especially the poopy ones(my son had a colostomy bag for the first 3 months of his life. Having to change one of those will make you love normal diaper changes!) I have also never felt the need to compete with other moms. We all just need to find our own style, confidence, and strength to do what’s best for us and our families.

  118. I wish this post could have been available to me when my daughter was a newborn. I never suffered from PPD, but those first months were, at times, absolutely petrifying. The truth is that you’re just trying to get by. I never got anything out of the circuit of baby classes either (except maybe a headache.)

  119. I adopted my son and only had a few days with him before I had to go back to work, but I still identify so much with your description of the overwhelming nature of early motherhood.

    I must say now that you’re Freshly Pressed, you’ll probably hear a lot of comments from those of us in the States jealous of an 11 mo maternity leave .

  120. My heart aches to start having babies. God’s timing, right? So I look to these “mama” posts and glean as much knowledge as I can. “And you can’t believe how fast the past 11 months has gone” THAT MAKES ME SO JEALOUS because best case scenario, I’m going to get 12 weeks. 😦

  121. I never thought I would want to be a stay at home mom, or work from home, but after having my son I want it desperately. I am now pregnant with my second child and am both excited and scared about maternity leave, but also returning to work. My husband will only be able to take 1 week off so I’m scared about taking care of a newborn and a toddler by myself. Hearing all these comments are comforting though. For leave I can take up to 12 weeks off, but only 6 weeks are paid. Unfortunately my husband and I can only afford for me to take 6 weeks off with this baby, and last time I got lots of pressure from my work to return after 6 weeks. I’m so jealous of 11 months of maternity leave. My husband and I both work 3rd shift, makes going back to work that much harder knowing that my children won’t be sleeping in their own beds. Enjoy your maternity leave and if you have a rough day during that time think about the time when you will be at work missing your children.

  122. Hi, I wanted to let you know that if you do read the comments here, try to let some of them slide. People have strong opinions, and women unfortunately like to make themselves feel superior. I haven’t had any kids yet, but I feel like I got a pretty honest view here reading your post. Who knows what will lay in store for any mum, and I am glad a lot of women here can relate and support you. I hope the women who are being critical realise it’s unkind.

  123. Written so well. Can only ad you can never cuddle your baby to much! As a mum to an almost 3 year old and an angel I can honestly say even the toughest days bring reward when you look at your little one knowing you created him/her.

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  125. What a beautifully written piece. Best ‘mommy’ thing I have read since becoming a first-time mom. Thank you – for writing this! : )

  126. Good post. Luckily 21 (almost) years ago, the internet was an infant itself, and there weren’t that many books to choose from. I think “What to Expect When You’re Expecting,” “The Nursing Mother’s Companion,” and some book from my health insurance company were my best go-to’s. Modern moms must have to sort through a lot of information!

  127. Refreshingly honest! I applaude your courage. I think its pretty obvious that everyone has their own personal experience. I am disappointed by some responders high and mighty attitude “well i walked 10 miles in the snow with a baby strapped to my back” or ‘be thankful for 12 months leave’ – It is not helpful, again makes new mums think they should be able to do that when some simply can’t given the experience they find themselves living..
    I hated classes found then competivive and awful as described. My best friend loved classes as she found a great group of girls. Each to their own. What i like about this article is that it makes it OK for folks like me not to want to do the courses, read the books as i think a lot of new mums think that they SHOULD do these things even though they do not WANT to.
    I had a great maternity leave – i chose to take 14 months unpaid leave from my job- i loved being with my baby, i loved being at home and i was not a “have to get out of the house every day type if girl” but i accept and understand that others are. I still relate to this blog and wish some of my friends had read it as they really struggle with feeling the pressure to maintain an immaculate home, care for baby and attend baby classes. What resonates with me of course is the desription of being attached at the nipple and showers bring a luxury in the newborn stage and the overall message to just do what is right for you, do not feel pressured to be anything but yourself and accept that each woman has a different journey and experience and lets support each other rather than tear each other down or try to one up each other.

  128. I couldn’t ‘have said this better my self. All completely true! The best thing anyone ever did for me was my sister being honest to me about what was about to happen once i had my baby. I try to be that honest one now. Great piece!

  129. Very timely for me, as I am returning to work on Monday and my baby is off to daycare. I have cried my fair share of tears over it. So, so sad to see this year come to an end.

  130. Nice story. It is very truthful, and tells the readers something new, while still being something many women can relate to!

  131. I saw this article, and all I could think about was how far behind we are in regards to this in the States. We’ve such a long way to go.

  132. Great post! We always hear that motherhood is filled with ups and downs but we don’t really understand it all until you live it. Maternity leave is a challenge for most of us!

  133. And how incredible that there are so many places that only allow maternity leave of 6 weeks (12 weeks is considered a luxury)–not enough time to get into a reasonable routine. Not enough time to feel okay about leaving the baby for the whole day to eat from a bottle that needed to be pumped when all one wanted to do was sleep…and and and. Let your blog post also be used to underscore why it is so very important to allow the CHOICE of being home with the babe for the first 12 months!

  134. So very true. As mothers we constantly judge ourselves and we should just leave ourselves alone and give ourselves a pat on the back even if all we’ve managed in a day is to get ourselves out of bed in the morning!

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  136. Part of me is scared to have children because of some of the things that you’ve said, especially the part about feeling like whether you’re doing enough or doing things right. This made me feel better, and just slightly more capable of being able to care for a baby when that time comes.

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  138. To suggest that your friends should pay for your lunches is rediculous how about if you can’t afford lunch you don’t fucking go to lunch . It’s bad enough that you are sitting on your ass for 6 months “getting bored ” when your ass could be back at work and let your husband get some pat leave . Sick of selfish twats like you

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  141. So nice to hear mothers speaking the truth! I’m almost done my mat leave and you are so right! Thanks for sharing and all mothers to be should read this as I did know most of this prior.

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  146. Yes! A lot of this rings true of my first year as a mum. As human beings we are capable of feeling something is incredibly hard yet incredibly wonderful all at the same time, which I think this piece acknowledges and this is an important message for new mothers.

    Just 16 weeks maternity leave 11 years ago in the UK meant I chose to give up my career as I couldn’t face leaving my baby so soon. if I’d had 12 months I am certain I would have gone back to work. Rather than a bitter ‘you don’t know you’re born’ response, I rather think, thank goodness for progress for women.

    In response to the comments along the lines of ‘you chose to have a baby, so what, why do I have to work to pay your child benefit etc.’: supporting families benefits everyone in so many ways. It’s called society.

  147. Brilliant, honest post, not suprised this went viral-every mother and mother- to- be needs to read this! I wrote a post on being more honest recently too-we all need to stop pretending to be perfect parents, motherhood can be tough and oh so boring and admitting it doesn’t mean handing in your womanhood! Thanks!

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  150. Great post! I was nodding in agreement from start to finish..I have just finished my paid mat leave and am on unpaid leave..gulp…budget city in our house at the moment but it’s worth it and makes us appreciate the small stuff and all the hanging around the house and just being a family….bliss

  151. Completely understand everything you are saying- I felt lonely when I was on leave and as soon as you get into the swing of things- its over. Except here, we only get 6 weeks of leave and an additional 6 that you must take before your child turns 1. So I am right there with you!

  152. Only just come across this brilliant article, well written and wish I had read at the beginning of my mat leave rather than the end (first few months very difficult, 5 months onwards great). I just feel a bit sad seeing how judgemental/critical people are of others decisions – whether that’s to stay at home with children, return to work (full or part time) etc. Whatever mums decide to do is based on what they think is right for their family, and for those returning to work where they have no option it’s horrible to be told that the only loving/caring environment for a baby is at home with its mother or father. Being a stay at home mum is a brilliant (sadly often under valued by wider society) thing to do with many sacrifices, but not everyone can/is able to do it. Also those that are so harsh about mums that have struggled at times with young babies/children – it is lovely for those that are totally relaxed and find motherhood easy at all times, but not everyone is like that (and doesn’t mean they love their children any less!). So come on mums lets support each other! Finally, the ignorant people commenting on “their taxes” being used to pay for our mat leave – my partner and I have paid/do pay significant amounts of tax ourselves and don’t claim any benefits. Children are the future tax payers of this Country and will be paying for your/our pensions/NHS/the ageing population plus actually providing the services of the future – so let’s value the wider contribution that having children will make to everyone’s future.

  153. Wish I had a friend like you. I haven’t got any friends with babies at the same age. I have quite a few friends with children but most are older than mine. It’s quite lonely. I go to quite a few groups/ classes and although people are friendly I am yet to meet anyone I’d swop numbers with. Worry (probably unfounded) that my daughter won’t have any friends the same age.
    So yes I completely agree with your article maternity leave is sometimes hard work :0((

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  157. I’m in my 8th week of maternity leave (living in the US I only get 12 weeks of maternity leave) and I have been looking for a blog/article like this one. There is so much pressure in our society to do things a certain way, and I have been spending most of my maternity leaving feeling guilty for so many things…for not doing enough during the day, for not stimulating or engaging my baby enough like the books say, for missing my previous life of going out to dinners with my husband on a whim and not have to worry about anything else. These days, eating a meal or two and making sure baby is content and happy is a good and accomplished day. It’s hard not to listen to what everyone else is doing with their babies, and what the books are saying…I am slowly learning that my natural instincts as a mother is my best resource. Your blog reinforced that thought, so I thank you for the encouragement and laughs because this is a hard job and we need to give ourselves some credit and cut ourselves some slack.

    • It’s not always the case…my first baby slept through the night at 12 days old and the second baby slept through from 6 days old.😊

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  159. Such a wonderful blog! Exactly how i felt when my daughter was born, but all totally worth it! I even had a few tears at the end too! Those baby emotions never leave x

  160. This reading was just what I was looking for, thank you very much. I have a two year old boy and a 3 month old baby girl. I love them both with all my heart but it has been so difficult to adapt to this new routine. I’m on maternity leave for a year and for now I just keep asking myself why did I decide to leave for such a long time. I know it would be extremely difficult to go back to work and leave my baby at only 3 months old, and my son with all his jealous feelings. I didn’t want to go through all the guilty feelings I had with my first baby. But at the same time I miss working so much. I have realized how much I love my career and I’m scared of how this is going to be when I go back.

  161. This is the second time I’ve read this firstly when I was still pregnant and now when beatrix my daughter is just over four months old.

    I’m going to share it with my partner so he can be more understanding and stop saying I’m depressed when I’m perfectly happy.

    And I shall read it every time my mother in law has an extra special day doing what morther in laws do… Criticise!

    Thank you.

  162. Wowzas. I have been there and felt almost all of that! My husband does not believe in all the new baby groups. He thinks they are just to get money out of people. I dont quite understand some of them. And my mum and a few older mums all say ‘we didnt have those in our day, and you turned out just fine’! Baby bonding- personally I think that is a natural thing between the parent and the baby. You shouldnt have to pay to bond! Don’t get me wrong, I am sure massage and sensory are worthwhile and massage helpful for colic etc.
    I hated going to groups. So judgemental and competitive! Like you say, like being back at school. When you are a first time ma, you need support and smiles!

  163. This post is so true, nearly every paragraph I could relate to and the last one made me cry with tears of Joy as I realised that I need enjoy every one of thoses long nap my son has on me while they last 😉

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  166. I realise this post is quite old now but it popped up on Google when I was searching for help. I want the author to know that it meant the world to me at a very low point- my 3-week-old, darling as he is, has basically refused not to be held by me for the past three days. Frustration aside, I have started to doubt whether I’m physically capable of doing this! My husband often works 6 days per week and our families live abroad, so I’m really quite isolated. I feel so overwhelmed and, in the face of mummy blogs and marketing that lead you to believe that very day of mat leave is teddy bears’ picnics and Instagram-worthy outfits, it’s so hard not to feel like a failure.
    This is the first thing I’ve read about maternity leave that is genuinely honest and made me feel like the baby and I are going to be ok. Thank you- your writing has made a difference.

  167. Yes and all on top of having no one coming home to you at the end if the day, finishing your maternity leave and they’ve filled your job, tell you to do one, and then having no money to live on!! No chance of going out to meet your friends or pay for groups or childcare! Hard is an understatement.

  168. Sorry to throw a spanner in the works, but if the aim is honest discussion, I am bored with all the blogs that whine about the difficulties of bringing up a newborn. “You will feel like a failure and you can’t do it” is the feeling I, a suitably insecure person in many senses, least associate with bringing up two babies. Do people enjoy reading about the exhaustion and anxiety of bringing up small children in middle class surroundings? (convienently forgetting the fact that great swathes of the world’s population do it without ‘maternity leave’, or multiple pieces of equipment and endless coffee mornings and yoga groups etc). It seems that complaining about early motherhood is a symptom of the fact we are encouraged – and social media has a big part to play in it- to see oourselves as ostracised individuals suffering very unique woes. Less of the constant references to social class would be refreshing too “most women’s partners are back at work after two weeks” doesn’t go for women who share parental leave/ women who don’t have “partners”/ women whose partners are not permanently employed, which actually is more than just “a few”. Let’s embrace the universality of parenthood abit more, and the chance encounters it promotes, and different perspectives it offers, even in the way we view our local communities. And no, neither me nor any of my friends hung around at home in our pjs as son as their beloved husbands scampered off to work.

  169. Re-reading this now that I’m pregnant with baby number two and everything you’ve wrote has resonated even more. Will definitely be having a much more relaxed approach to my time with the baby this summer….if that’s possible with a newborn and a toddler!!
    Hope you’re enjoying time with all 4 of your beautiful girls x

  170. So true! I’m a mum to my 9 1/2 year old daughter and 6 week old son. It’s like starting all over again. I beat myself up that I wasn’t coping, I should know what I’m doing, I’m a bad mum…. I just wish I’d read this sooner. It’s only in the past 2 weeks I’ve started to give myself a break and realise I’m not superwoman, a size 10 wannabe or anything else! I’m a mummy trying my best, I’ve 2 happy healthy clean and fed children, 1 husband who sometimes doesn’t have a dinner ready on his return home from work and I’m now ok with this. Thanks for not making me feel alone!

  171. This is so close to the truth for myself (and so many other Mum’s I have no doubt), it’s almost as though you have witnessed my life as a parent for the first couple of years! My two are now two and a half and fifteen months, and I wonder every day whether I am “doing it right”. My son is still breastfeeding. I’m ready to stop. He isn’t. So I’ll just plod along until he is; hopefully fairly soon as I do want a bit of ‘me’ back. But I can guarantee that the day he stops wanting the boob I will be an emotional mess and missing my ‘baby’. The part about midvives telling us we CAN do it when we have all sworn under the sun that we possibly can’t just put the biggest smile on my face as it reminded my of both my labours when I said those exact words, and also made me realise that yes, we actually can all do this crazy role of motherhood in our own wonderful ways. A very lovely, honest and relatable post. Xx

  172. Reading this just made me cry. You describe maternity leave so well. With my first I didn’t listen to instinct and followed books, I was sleep deprived and desperate. Second one I’m following instinct and only do one class! Just wish my maternity leave was longer. Thank you for sharing.

  173. This is a great read. I can only imagine what pressures some other mums feel.
    I decided long before I gave birth that I wouldn’t get sucked into reading all the ‘how to’ baby books, join any clicky mother and baby groups or take advice from anyone. In fact, my decision not to be dictated to with regards to the whole ‘breastfeeding or bottle feeding’ issue was frowned upon during antinatal classes and I was made to feel like a leper by the group because of the decision I made regarding the issue. I didn’t care. I had my reasons behind my decision and it wouldn’t have been a healthy choice for my baby had I decided to give in to the extreme pressure within the group, to breastfeed.
    Anyhow, after my daughter was born, due to the fact that I had refused to read all the 1000’s of baby books on ‘how to’ and also refused to join the clicky mother and baby groups in order to allow other ‘perfect mummies’ boast about their ‘perfect babies’, I found I had a wonderful, guilt-free, stress-free life with a baby who was extremely content, fed well, slept through the night from 12 days old and reached all her milestones at the right time.
    The point I’m trying to make is that, looking after a baby isn’t rocket science, just common sense, mothers have raised children perfectly well for centuries without books, groups, online advice etc. Do what you feel is right and don’t be sucked in to all the pressure from outside sources as this will make you feel worthless, will make you question your abilities as a mother and will definitely stress you out. Babies can sense if mum is stressed and will react accordingly. A relaxed, confident mum = a happy, content baby.
    Mum’s know best 😊

  174. Pingback: Loosing My Mat Leave Mojo | mommyonthegreen

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