If you clicked on this, chances are congratulations are in order! Having kids can be a profound, life-changing experience. However, our society has limited resources for new mums and figuring it all out by yourself can be pretty daunting. Most new mothers ask their own moms or female family members for help, but for some this carries the side effect of invasive questions or unwarranted judgements.
Thankfully, we are lucky to be living in this digital age where everyone can pool their knowledge and experience for the benefit of others. So if you're a new mum, here is a short list of things to keep in mind to make your life easier:
1. Mommy Support Groups
Thank god for the online sisterhood. More and more Pakistani moms are creating and joining safe spaces for one another to ask questions, complain about judgemental aunties, or raise awareness about serious topics like son preference and obstetric violence. Facebook groups like Yummy Mummy and The Mummy Club, as well as mom bloggers like Sumaya Hasan are great resources for myth-busting, emotional support and dialogue between new mums. All the "shameful" questions, reviews for baby products and shoulders to cry on are just a few clicks away.
2. Affordable Baby Clothes
When I was growing up, it was common for moms or grandmothers to sew baby clothes by hand. However most modern women do not have the free time for DIY projects, or have no experience with a sewing machine. We recently launched our Kids section at Secret Stash with brand new and tagged children's clothes from the US and UK. Now you no longer have to wait for relatives from America to bring back cute baby clothes: you can browse great quality clothes from Old Navy, Ralph Lauren and H&M from prices starting from Rs. 500.
3. Use All Your Paid Time Off
If you were working before or during your pregnancy, hopefully you checked out your workplace's maternity leave policy. Even so, a lot of women feel career anxiety when taking the necessary time to heal and spend with their baby. It helps know your right as a female employee to paid maternity leave without worrying about consequences for your job. Under Pakistani law, women are allowed up to 3 months of paid maternity leave, which includes six weeks of post-natal leave. Recently the Senate passed a bill that would also make paternity leave a right: that means your husband can be included in the child-rearing process and you can enjoy this time guilt-free. So relax, you've earned it.
4. Self Care Without Guilt
Some people might make you feel like all you should do now is sit at home with the baby. This, however, can be extremely isolating and depressing for new mums. Humans are social creatures after all, and it's not like women lose their personality after giving birth. It's very normal to feel sad, irritable or depressed after birth, which is all the more reason to take time for yourself, and ask for support from your social circle (which also includes stating some boundaries). Take note of your mental health by journaling, and schedule girls' days every week where you can leave the baby with dad and enjoy yourself. You deserve it.