Most of my friends were already mothers by the time I became one. Either I met them as mothers or witnessed them becoming mothers during the course of our friendship.
By the time we were expecting our first baby, I had moved to the UK and almost all of those Mama friends were back in Canada. Busy with their own young families, I felt hesitant contacting them whenever I wanted to talk about something baby-related or was craving advice. This was before the age of whatsapp, so contact meant writing an email or an actual phone call – both of which take time that I felt my friends may not have had.
Thankfully, I had my own Mama to turn to – she patiently and with great care listened to all my anxieties and hypothetical scenarios but fell short of giving me any actual advice.
What would you do Mama?
I don’t know, our time was so different…
This type of answer really frustrated me… so I pressed the question until she finally responded in exasperation I really don’t know Aiysha. We just did the best we could. Why don’t you ask Google?
Cue my flatout disbelief that Mama was suggesting I use the internet to assuage my new mom anxieties! Surely that would lead to even more worry? I wanted to know, from her, what she did and how and why. I wanted all the wisdom she had received from her mother, to be the recipient of some ancient chain of secret maternal knowledge.
But, as it turned out, my Mama – who moved continents away from her own parents and had her own children so far away from family – never had the opportunity to soak up any great lessons or tips on mothering. She and Abu had a baby, a copy of Dr. Spock and essentially learned on the go.
Eventually, after we had our first baby, my Mama came to stay with us and shared all her hard-earned expertise and invaluable tips with me in person, all the while still encouraging me to ask Google. With a world full of people and research out there, all available so quickly and easily, it seemed senseless, to her, that I would disregard such an incredible resource.
And so, I reluctantly turned to the internet with many of my questions and began to shift through all the noise in an attempt to find sites I could trust, experiences I could relate to and information which would inform (not mislead) me. I was a good “googler” before motherhood but the sheer volume of information and voices out there on babies and parenting and moms was sometimes overwhelming!
I was recently reminded of this when speaking with a dear friend expecting her first baby. I mentioned some sites in passing and realised she didn’t know what I was talking about. But why would she? Even though many of the sites on this list are extremely well known amongst modern mothers, there was a time I had no idea of their existence. Perhaps a friend suggested them to me or perhaps I stumbled upon them during a 3am panic – however it happened, these sites were invaluable to me as a new mother (and beyond).
For when you are considering breastfeeding or trying to breastfeed, your baby is crying, you are worried and your mother, mother-in-law, midwife and pediatrician all have strong opinions and conflicting advice:
Kellymom is the only site dedicated to feeding your baby in which all posts are strictly evidence-based. This means it helps cut through a lot of conflicting opinions by ensuring everything is backed up with published research, not just hearsay. So whether it’s understanding how breasts make milk, wanting to know what to expect in the first few weeks or dealing with not having enough milk, sore breasts, cluster feeding or tongue-tie – check kellymom first.
For when nothing seems to be working, you and your baby seem to have lost your ‘groove’, you are all sleep deprived and find yourself thinking there must be a better way than this:
Ahaparenting is a an all-encompassing parenting site dedicated to providing advice and suggestions based on the principles of peaceful parenting. There are so many great topics here, from cherishing your baby to helping with that colic phase, which are addressed in a way which promotes a deep parent-child connection and provides plenty of alternatives to more conventional perspectives. This site also grows with you as it’s resources span from babyhood to teenagedom.
For when you may not be praying and feel a bit spiritually distant, with your soul yearning for some serenity and your heart craving a peace deep enough to encompass the new boundless love you have for your baby:
A large amount of time as a new mother is spent alone with your baby. Even if you are fortunate to be surrounded by family and community, you will spend a lot of time rocking and feeding and burping and soothing – just the two of you. It could be in a quiet upstairs room while everyone else chats away in the lounge or it could be in your kitchen in the middle of the night. Sometimes the accompanying silence is nice – comforting. But other times (maybe most times) you may want more – something to uplift and further illuminate all the hours you spend together.
Enter the Qur’an. This is the perfect time to remember that even listening to the Qur’an is an act of worship and a means of attaining Divine Mercy and requires nothing from your tired self except to just listen. This gorgeous, gentle and lyrical recitation by Sheikh Alzain Mohamed Ahmed of the Sudan will melt your heart and fill you with a profound tranquility, all without waking your little one. Turn it on, take a deep breath and be.
For when everything seems so absurd and you need a good laugh:
Parenting comics are one of those things that you either love or hate and most likely, you never even bothered to notice before. But now? Are they ever relatable! Every so often I will google “best parenting comics” and get a great roundup which someone has put together. Here is a good one that still makes me laugh.
For when you want to think of something other than being a mom, having a baby and remember that there is still a world out there you care deeply about:
After becoming a mother reading the news became even more difficult for me. I began to avoid the mainstream new sites, save for a glance at the daily headlines. Their insensitive use of images and endless detailing of global injustice, personal trauma, war and devastation, without context and no call to action, was overwhelming and left me feeling aghast at the state of the world in which we were trying to raise our children. I needed to stay hopeful and motivated in order to contribute to the betterment of our world, both through local community involvement and awareness of international concerns.
So I gravitated towards comment and activist sites – which provide alternate perspectives, smart commentary, analysis and opinion and harnessed people power to affect positive change. Clicking through and reading a post or two from any of these sites will give you food for thought, help you stay informed and keep you feeling like the articulate, thoughtful woman you are – even if your day at the moment seems to revolve around nothing more than diapers and naps.
And one last thing – there are a lot of strong and sometimes mean opinions on the internet and before you go read anything else read this: whether you are pregnant for the first time or the fourth, plan on breastfeeding or not, going back to work or not, feel happy, sad, scared, downright stressed or all of these in combination, know that without a doubt, you are doing an amazing job. Your baby loves you and you are enough.
Original Pen and Ink Illustration by Zarina Teli