Babies are sweet and charming in their own ways but being with one always is not what a holiday feels like. Feeding, burping, diaper change, clean up, feeding burping, diaper change, clean up, the cycle continues. You make yourself available without giving a thought about your stitched-up body, sleep deprivation, and baby blues. There are no sick days for a new mother. You may not have any other “professional obligations” to attend to for those 12-weeks (now 26) but this is no time off. It’s not a vacation where you are cooling off your heels and putting up pictures on your Insta feeds.

Key Takeaways

  • Maternity leave is not a vacation where you are cooling off your heels and putting up pictures on your Insta feeds.
  • The responsibility of being the primary caregiver keeps you on your toes.
  • Mothers don’t come programmed in understanding the unsaid.

Also Read: Please Let’s Not Treat Motherhood As A Competition

The perception about maternity leave is such that you are getting an unending amount of leave with pay, but caring for a newborn is not a vacation by any stretch of the imagination. You need this leave because you just let a human grow inside your body for nine months and then literally pushed them out, or worse had to undergo a medical procedure to get them out. You are exhausted even before you have welcomed your baby. The responsibility of being the primary caregiver, the need to put someone else’s well-being above your own is a kind of responsibility that keeps you on your toes. Mentally you are on the job 24 by 7 and the monotony of the events can sometimes become unbearable.

The perception about maternity leave is such that you are getting an unending amount of leave with pay, but caring for a newborn is not a vacation by any stretch of the imagination.

For a new mother who is trying to find a method in the madness around her, these are testing times. For most urban Indian women, who prioritize their careers and are used to spending a significant amount of their time outside the homes chasing their dreams, the confinement motherhood brings in the initial days can be daunting. As a mother you are clueless on most days, we have no way to know whether the baby is hungry, wet or perhaps plain terrified to be outside the womb. Nor is it easy to overlook the lopsided distribution of child care responsibilities that is still prevalent in our society. Bonding with an infant, even if they are your flesh and blood takes time and hard work. Mothers don’t come programmed in understanding the unsaid.

For most urban Indian women, who prioritize their careers and are used to spending a significant amount of their time outside the homes chasing their dreams, the confinement motherhood brings in the initial days can be daunting.

Pregnancy and childbirth change your body in many ways. You are always running on reserve fuel because of the sleep deprivation from the night time feeds. There is pain in walking normally, sitting upright and carrying out your bodily activities is a task. Episiotomies take time to heal and C-sections never leave your bodies the same.

Also Read: Not Many People Ask If Am Okay: Meghan Markle On New Motherhood

The stress that is part of this journey cannot be imagined. There are breastfeeding issues such as overstimulated nipples, low milk supply, latching problems, and clogged ducts, baby sleeping while feeding. You need time to regain strength but your mental health also needs attention. According to a report by WHO (2018), about 22 percent of Indian mothers suffer from postpartum depression. And post-partum depression is not just baby blues.

Above all, there is the fear of judgement that an Indian mother has to live with at every minute. Sometimes, for wanting to go back to work, or for supplementing her child’s need with formula milk, sometimes for the baby being too thin or dark and worst for giving birth to a girl.

So think before you are about to wish your colleague to “enjoy” her maternity leave. It is not a walk in the park.

The views expressed are the author’s own.

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