Salaamualaikum sisters, mothers, mothers to be and anyone who would just like to hear my experience of my first year in motherhood.
So Alhamdullilah it’s been just over a year now that Allah swt has blessed me with the gift motherhood, there are so many things I have learnt about being a mother and things I have learnt about myself over this past year, and some of those things I plan to share below in’sha’allah.
I want to start by saying that sisters motherhood is your own unique personal experience, so own it! embrace it! and make it yours! After I had given birth to my daughter along with this little bundle of joy came along a bundle of opinions and advice, and yes advice is most certainly needed after having a baby, there are so many things to learn, so many questions we have that mothers before us can help us with, but that does not mean the way another mother does something is the right way for you.
I remember clearly how overwhelmed I felt after having my baby, there were so many different ways, different books, different midwives giving different advice, your mother saying one thing, your mother in law saying another, aunty down the road saying something else and that article online saying something completely different, from breastfeeding, to how your baby should be sleeping, to what or how much your baby should be feeding, to how much your baby should be held and a whole heap more.
For me it’s safe to say I did most things the more unconventional way to what I was told I should be doing, but guess what? The way I did things worked for me, helped me get through those sleepless nights, soothed my baby and me in those moments when we needed it the most and I wouldn’t go back and change it for anything because thats my story, my experience as a mother, and I owned it, embraced it and loved it. Alhamdullilah.
So Let’s start with the topic of Breastfeeding. Oh now this a topic in which I had a lot wanted and unwanted advice thrown at me. All I went in knowing was that I wanted to breastfeed no mater what, I’ve always been the kind of person that can go into something new and learn fast, adapt and make it work for me, so a part of me thought breastfeeding wouldn’t be to difficult for me. However, I was unpleasantly proven wrong to say the least! Getting my daughter to breastfeed was something I found so very difficult, she just would not latch no matter how hard I tried, I tried for hours and hours filled with tears, frustration, pain, being engorged, feeling defeated, feeling emotional, running to around 4 weeks of trying until one day my baby girl latched and continued to latch upon every feed until I was able to say ‘Alhamdullilah mg baby girl breastfeeding!!’ And any mother who has experienced difficulty getting their baby to latch knows just how much relief that moment brings when your baby finally learns to latch, Alhamdullilah.
In that time I had such a mixture of feelings and emotions. I had one side of certain people telling me I’m being silly for wanting to breastfeed her only, I’m making my baby to dependant on me, I’m making my own life difficult for no reason, why not just formula feed her? How will you ever go out if she’s breast-fed only? You will have no social life if she’s breast-fed only! Everyone mix feeds or formula feeds these days! To the other end of feeling like I was a failure if I wasn’t able to breastfeed, that there’s something wrong with me if I’m not able to breastfeed. There were so many times I felt like I would never be able to breastfeed my daughter the way I had always dreamed of and so many times I thought maybe I should just give up, but Alhamdullilah through the mercy of Allah swt, through dua and persistence I kept on going and I eventually just got the hang of it, and breastfeeding became completely second nature to me! Alhamdullilah.
I want to also add here for any sisters worrying that Breastfeeding will mean you won’t have a life, or a social life, from my honest experience I have three things to say on this, firstly breastfeeding solely is only for the first 5 to 6 months of your babies life! Your baby will then in’sha’allah start on solids and will be able to go for much longer spaces of time without needing to breastfeed and the older your baby gets the longer those periods of time without baby needing to breastfeed will be, where you can leave your baby with a family member if it’s time away, or a day out to have some you time you desire.
Secondly, yes it will mean that you won’t be able to leave baby as easily and go out especially more so in the early stages but it’s so worth it, those amazing memories you will create, that special time you will have with your baby, and that feeling knowing that your baby relies on the food your body makes for its sustenance it’s a feeling like no other and without a doubt so very worth it.
And lastly for anyone that personally knows me, knows that even with a fully breastfed baby Alhamdullilah I have a amazing social life, (albeit Alhamdullilah a lot to do with amazing family members who are always happy to babysit and help out) I still see my girlfriends regularly, I still go out and do all the things I enjoy but the only difference is you adapt, do things at different times, schedule your day better, and for those that love you and want to still be around you they will make the effort also to accommodate you, and you them in’sha’allah.
From this I want you sisters to take on that do what works for you! I highly advise breastfeeding if you able to, it is amazingly beneficial for your baby and you, and if your not able to for your own reasons, there are many options such as expressing your breast milk and feeding or formula feeding, or mix feeding, but if your someone that is strongly set on wanting to breastfeed only, even if your struggling and finding it hard, don’t give up!! Keep trying, keep going, and in’sha’allah you will get there! Your not the mother that struggled with this and you won’t be last, and do not forget sister that for every single struggle you feel trying to breastfeed your child it may seem at that moment like a difficulty but if you think of the reward you are accumulating from Allah swt then that struggle is nothing but pure bliss and a mercy to you and a way for you to earn mountains of hasanat in’sha’allah.
Now let’s talk about another hot topic, well actually il be covering two topics here and this one I got even more judgement and disapproving comments over, the debate on whether you let your baby cry them self to sleep and co-sleeping. For me personally I was never able to do the cry it out method, I’m no way strong enough for that.
Which resulted in me being the type of mother who when my baby cries I tend to her straight away and so many times people, family, comments from others have made me feel like I should be ashamed to admit that, as if I’m being a bad mother and spoiling her, not letting her become independent by not being able to let her cry to sleep or for picking her up when she would cry in general, and the fact that I co-sleep with my baby well that just added to all the negative comments even more so.
Let me start by addressing the issue of baby independence, all i have to say is that if my newborn running up to her current age of age one is not ‘independent’ enough, that’s ok with me! Why is ‘independence’ seen as the be end and end all. Our society focuses so much on independence, how much independence a newborn has from its mother how much independence a mother has from her baby and if your both to attached to one another it’s almost seen as a bad thing. I’m not ashamed to say yes I held my baby practically on my chest all night long for the first 3-4 months of her life because it’s the only way she would sleep and the only way I could also get sleep, my daughter suffered from colic and indigestion – yes it’s true breast fed babies can still suffer from it to and it was the thing that soothed her the most and I don’t look back at it with any regret I only look back at how special it was having my child, my baby curled up on my chest heartbeat to heartbeat snuggling in the warmth.
Now co-sleeping, the beautiful topic that people love to make you feel like rubbish about, the amount of times Ive had someone; family or another tell me how bad it was that I co-sleep with my baby is not very few to say the least! I didn’t choose to co-sleep it kind of just happened, like I said earlier, for the first 3-4 months my daughter slept predominately on my chest, or strapped to me in my baby sling, so when her colic passed and she was able to sleep without being on my chest, because I was breastfeeding and she would wakeup for regular feeds having her in the bed with me made my life so much easier, it meant I was able to get a bit more of that much needed sleep, I was so sleep deprived and life doesn’t stop once you have a baby, I still had house work to get on with, cooking for my husband, washing ironing his clothes, keeping the house clean along with the sleep deprivation and having a newborn to look after, being able to sleep next to my baby allowed me to get a better nights sleep rather then having to keep waking up to feed her and pat her back to sleep, she would lay next to me and I would breastfeed her laying down which meant I didn’t have to get up and completely break out of my sleep, and we still do this till today, and not only does it give us both better sleep, but I love it, I love having my warm cuddly baby next to me for cuddles and kisses through the night, I love breastfeeding her to sleep and falling asleep watching her feed, it works for us and I don’t see what the big deal is, why it’s seen as something wrong by so many.
Scientifically breast milk has a substance in it which has a soothing sleep inducing effect on the baby, thus showing me that Allah swt gave women the ability to breastfeed to sleep as a mercy to women, to make our lives a little easier help us both get sleep and at the same time bond with one another, if it works why fix it? In third world countries, poorer countries all women co-sleep it’s the norm, and I don’t see it having a negative effect on children there, all the women i know in my native country co-sleep as its the norm.
People have said to me if you co-sleep your baby wont be able to sleep without you, and whilst yes it will make your baby more dependant and more attached to you, I don’t feel that’s completely true at all, now that my daughter is older I put her to sleep in her cot and when she wakes up for her feed a few hours later, I bring her into my bed and she stays there for the remainder of our sleep, and bare in mind breast-feeding is only for two years if you wish to complete the full term.
‘Mothers may breastfeed their children two complete years for whoever wishes to complete the nursing [period]. Upon the father is the mothers’ provision’ – [Surah Baqarah 2:233].
I do plan to move my daughter into her own bed completely once I stop breastfeeding, and il figure out then what works best for us and how to go about it, there’s no wrong or right way there is just the way that works for you.
Now I suppose what I really want to say and bring from this for you sisters is that I know how it felt when I first had my baby, when I didn’t know what was the right or best thing to do, when I heard so many different opinions and advice, there were so many times I felt like I was doing the wrong thing not because of what came naturally to me but because of how other people made me feel, or how I even made myself feel due to new mum insecurities and feeling like other mums around me are doing it differently to me, it made me feel upset, stressed out, worried that am the only one doing it this way but let me tell you something sisters do yourself a favour, and do not let that worry you or upset you! Do what works best for you! Just because another mother, even if it’s your mother, or another 10 mother seem to be doing things differently from you that doesn’t mean your doing it wrong, you know what works best for you and your baby and no baby is the same, being a new mum can be difficult so you don’t need the added stress of feeling like your doing it wrong because your not!
Get advice, ask other mothers around you when you need to, most of my friends have babies or had babies close to the time I did so it was such a help speaking to other mothers because a lot of the time it was nice knowing I wasn’t the only one dealing with this issue or another, but when it comes down to it, I did what worked for me, and I’m so glad.
When I first had my baby was that worried unsure new mum, but after a year of experiencing motherhood I’m so much more confident, proud of what I’ve achieved and I wouldn’t take back any of the choices I made, because that was my journey and my story to tell of my life as a Muslim mama, how I experienced it, owned it and embraced it!
So embrace it sisters, Jannah lies at the feet of mothers because your journey is an amazing one, your story is an amazing one that you will continue to tell till your old and a grandmother yourself one day if Allah swt wills you to live till then and in’sha’allah with so many more moments and amazing memories to come.
Salaamualaikum wa rahmatullah wa barakatu!
Until next time my sisters in’sha’allah 💛