An interview with Claudine Wolk, author of "It Gets Easier!...And Other Lies We Tell New Mothers: A Fun, Practical Guide to Becoming A New Mom."
Insider secrets on coping with a new baby, preparing for labor, and coping with the frustrations of being a new Mom.
In this interview with Commitment, Claudine Wolk, author of "It Gets Easier!..And Other Lies We Tell New Mothers: A Fun, Practical Guide to Becoming A New Mom" shares insider strategies for new mothers and those who are about to give birth. She talks openly about the loneliness and frustration many mothers feel, as well as provides tips on getting through the hard days with a new baby.
Commitment: What motivated you to write this book for new mothers?
Claudine Wolk: Frustration! After I had my first child and realized how hard motherhood was, how fully unprepared I was, and how little honest, practical information was out there for moms, I decided to get the information myself and share it.
Commitment: What five pieces of information are in your book that you wish someone had shared with you when you were pregnant with your first child?
1. Feeding and sleeping patterns are related in babies. A baby who eats and sleeps at regular intervals may sleep through the night sooner.
2. Putting a baby down drowsy, instead of completely asleep will help a baby to fall asleep on his own.
3. A baby cannot be spoiled. Hold as much as you like during the day.
4. Finding a lactation specialist BEFORE you have the baby for tips and instruction can go a long way toward breastfeeding success.
5. It's OK to follow your own instincts!
Commitment: You wrote that the experience of motherhood can be a lonely one. What are some ways you have personally found helps ease the loneliness That can accompany motherhood? What advice can you share with mothers out
There who do feel lonely?
Claudine: You need to get out there and connect with other mothers. Join a Moms Group, Church group, YMCA Mommy & Me class - any place where new moms gather. Being able to talk about your experience with other moms is a great way to stave off loneliness. Also, find a great babysitter who you are
NOT related to get out by yourself now and again.
Reconnecting with yourself is another way to keep loneliness at bay.
Commitment: In your book, you write that there are many subjects mothers are afraid to discuss because they might be labeled a "bad mother." What are some of the emotions and topics mothers seem reluctant to discuss?
Claudine: Simply being honest about how hard motherhood is, how a new mom can feel overwhelmed, and how a new mom can feel unappreciated by a spouse, is enough to prompt the "bad mother" police. I've seen it on the web, too. The
moment you say motherhood is hard, you invariably get the comment, "Why did you have children, then?" They theory being that "motherhood is its own reward." Hogwash. (Can you still use the word hogwash? Am I dating myself?)
I wanted to address this issue in the book because stomping on a new mom's feelings does not help a new mom. Being a mother is hard work. It's important and unpaid work at that. I felt it was important to empower moms by addressing the issue upfront so they could feel safe to share their experiences. If we can't be honest, how can we share the tips that can
make our lives easier?
Commitment: What feelings did you experience as a new mother that were surprising and uncomfortable? How can a new Mom cope with these feelings, that might not at all match what she expected to feel as a mother?
Claudine: Wow, these are really great questions...
Truth be told, when I first brought my little guy home and realized that I was in WAAAAY over my head, I was angry. Angry that I hadn't realized how hard motherhood was going to be, angry that my doctor sent be home from the hospital with one, ambiguous direction, "feed on demand," and angry that
my vision of motherhood contrasted so sharply with the reality.
The best way to cope is to talk to other moms (and of course read my book) to understand that you are not alone in your feelings, that generations of moms that have gone before you from the beginning of time have felt the same way you do.
The next way to cope is to take an active role in your life.
Check into a baby schedule to help get some sleep, get help with breastfeeding, cleaning, cooking for a while until you start to feel a bit stronger. Find that babysitter I mentioned so that you can get a free moment and recharge. Most important, trust your own instincts and toss the societal guilt out the window!
Commitment: What are the best 10 insider secrets in your book for new Moms?
Claudine: Some were already mentioned above.
1. Put baby down drowsy, not asleep, to help him fall asleep on his own.
2. Wake the baby to feed as a newborn during the day to keep him eating at regular intervals.
3. There is an important relationship between sleeping and eating for a newborn that can affect his ability to sleep through the night.
4. You cannot spoil a newborn baby. Hold as much as you like.
5. Finding a lactation specialist BEFORE you have the baby can go a long way toward successful breastfeeding.
6. Breastfeeding, while natural, is not always easy, but a learned skill.
7. Finding a babysitter you are not related to can go a long toward long-term sanity.
8. Co-sleeping can affect your love life, (and your ability to reproduce).
9. No matter what you decide working out or in home, you are an equal partner with your spouse.
10. Your happiness is important to your family's success. If Mom is happy, the family is happy.
Commitment: What are five things every pregnant woman should do to prepare for the birth of her baby?
1. Interview a lactation specialist. Review breastfeeding options based on your specific situation.
2. Hire a cleaning person for a few months before the birth and after the birth.
3. Do not feel guilty if you don't want visitors right after the birth. This is a vulnerable time for YOUR new family. It's OK to say no.
4. Talk to your spouse about returning to work and the role you'll need him to play.
5. If you have the energy, freeze some dinners.
Commitment: Chapter Three: "Uncensored Tips for Labor and Beyond" offers many helpful tips. Can you share with us five tips that you wish someone had shared with you, and that might have saved you from some extra pain and aggravation during labor?
1. Be flexible - Having a birthing plan is a great idea but be willing to adjust it as the situation unfolds. The only important result is a healthy baby and a healthy mother.
2. I didn't realize that once your water breaks - amniotic fluid still produces and flows limiting your mobility.
3. Approximately 95% of US women receive an epidural to help with labor pain. Do not feel guilty to stop the pain!
4. Let the nurses take your little guy when you are tired, you are going to need your rest.
5. If breastfeeding is not going well during your hospital stay, do not worry, you CAN pick it up when you return home, even if your little guy has been taking a bottle.
Commitment: What advice do you have for new Moms who feel overwhelmed, a bit depressed, and unprepared for their new life as a mother? What helped you personally adjust to being a Mom and leaving some of your old life
Claudine: Connecting with other mothers is the best way to lift some of the cloud of new motherhood. Talk to your mom, neighbors, and friends who have been through it or branch out and try to make some new friends.
One of the first ways that I began to feel more myself after having my little guy was using a flexible baby schedule. He started to sleep more and I started to sleep more. Sleep can be a terrific salve.
I also would talk to my mother every morning and report my baby's sleep progress with her. It felt good to
be speaking to someone everyday about the minute details of my son's nocturnal activities. She was always encouraging and supportive.
Another great epiphany I had was to trust myself a bit more. I realized that my instincts were good, and that I had to make decisions that were good for me and my family and my baby responded positively.
Commitment: Chapter Twelve is titled "The Most Frustrating Job on the Planet." What are some ways all mothers can make their job a bit less frustrating And a lot more comfortable?
Claudine: I think the first way to make the job a bit easier is for a mom to honestly VALUE what she does. It's hard to value what is not compensated labor, but it is labor nonetheless. The next way is to do the yucky stuff as quickly as possible so that it does not feel like the only the thing you do all
Some ideas to limit the yucky stuff:
1. Focus on the kitchen and bathroom, let the rest sit.
2. Invest in a compartmentalized laundry basket (to have laundry sorted at all times)
3. Prepare dinners that can last for two days.
4. Consider using a schedule for your work. (ie. laundry on Mon, grocery on Tues, etc.)
5. Put stuff away, right away, so even if it's not clean, it looks
Also, Do one thing every day that is completely unrelated to motherhood!
Commitment: When you were writing this book, what did you discover about yourself as a mother and about other women that most surprised and also enlightened you?
Claudine: The first surprising discovery was that I wasn't alone! I really thought, like so many other women, that I was an anomaly. A new mom who felt disappointed, overwhelmed, and frustrated with new motherhood. What I found was that coast to coast moms feel the same way.
What I found most enlightening through writing and researching this book was that women are finding ways to be both mothers and keep a piece of themselves as well to continue to fulfill their own dreams. In fact, I am living this. I can be a mom and love my kids and also enjoy my own life
outside of them and ironically, or not so ironically, be a better mom. It's a discovery that I never expected to find!
To Purchase "It Gets Easier!...And Other Lies We Tell New Mothers" click here.
About the Author: Claudine Wolk is a CPA and mother of three. She lives in Bucks Country, PA with her husband Joe and her children, Joseph, Casey & Ally. She writes columns as well as magazine and newspaper articles on all subjects regarding motherhood in the 21st Century. She is also available for humorous but informative workshops on the subjects of "new motherhood" and "mothers returning to the workforce." She is also available for speaking engagements. Visit: www.Help4NewMoms.com orwww.Help4Newmoms.blogspot.com