The Big Baby Lie™

Breaking news: Beyoncé and her husband Jay Z have had a baby. You probably haven’t heard about it yet, as it’s all been very, er,  low key and kept under the radar. But yes, on Saturday 7th January 2012, they had a baby girl and called her Blue Ivy.

Beyonce baby, Blue Ivy Carter, Beyonce baby Tumblr, Jay Z baby blog

A couple of days later, they released a statement to the world’s press:

Hello Hello Baby Blue! We are happy to announce the arrival of our beautiful daughter, Blue Ivy Carter, born on Saturday, January 7, 2012. Her birth was emotional and extremely peaceful, we are in heaven. She was delivered naturally at a healthy 7 lbs and it was the best experience of both of our lives. We are thankful to everyone for all your prayers, well wishes, love and support

– Beyoncé & JAY Z

The statement prompted me to wonder whether people really mean this kind of thing, days after giving birth, or whether it’s just part of The Big Baby Lie™.

What is The Big Baby Lie™?

The Big Baby Lie is what I call the apparent cover-up of (whispers) what it’s really like to give birth and look after a newborn baby. Just by acknowledging its existence, I’m risking being asked to leave my local Monkey Music class and being shunned by all the other mums from the soft play centre.

Plenty of mums subscribe to, and spread, The Big Baby Lie. You probably know a few yourself – they say things like “I just used gas & air, and I didn’t really feel anything – then suddenly, baby Harry was here!” or “I treasure the 3am night feeds – just being close to my baby is bliss.”

While I’m willing to accept that some women are lucky enough to have quick births, some use hypnobirthing techniques and some are in touch with their inner zen, I’d place money on the fact that most women have a birth they’d rather forget and feel so ravaged by tiredness and hormones in the first few weeks of being a mummy, they spend a lot of time in tears.

And The Big Baby Lie makes it all feel 80% worse. Women wonder why they’re struggling with their newborn, when the impression they get from so many of their friends and celebrities is that it’s a time to be treasured.

Yes, celebrities have a lot to answer for. Never mind the fact they PING back into their size 6 skinny jeans within weeks of having a baby. Using language like Beyoncé and Jay Z did in their press statement makes me want to hit myself repeatedly on the head with a Makka Pakka stuffed toy.

 “Emotional” OK, I can see how it would be emotional. How could it not be? After nine months of anticipation (and potentially months/years of trying to conceive before that) meeting your baby is always going to be emotionally charged.

“Extremely peaceful” Really Beyonce? Peaceful like when you’re sitting on a beach, listening to the waves lap at the shore, with the odd seagull overheard and the warm sun on your face?

“We are in heaven” Blimey, I’m well jel. A few days after becoming a mummy, I was in a constant confused state. How do I get this vest on her? Should she wear a vest and a babygrow? Is jaundice normal? How often should she be feeding? Is she actually getting any milk? When will this lack of sleep END? Why am I crying SO MUCH?

Thank goodness, then, for celebs who tell it how it is. Miranda Kerr, you may have returned to your Victoria Secret-wearing-Orlando-Bloom-boffing body remarkably quickly, but respect to you for saying this about your son’s birth: “I actually thought I was going to die at one point and left my body. I was looking down on myself, the pain was so intense. I kept thinking, ‘How do women do this?’ But if other women have done this, I can do it too. I was determined.”

Women who spread The Big Baby Lie probably think they’re doing mums-to-be a favour. ‘If we don’t tell them of the horrors ahead, that’s better, right?’ Which I can kind of understand, but my overriding feeling as a mum of a two-week-old was ‘Oh my GOD, why did NO-ONE tell me?’

So here it is, mums-to-be. I’m telling it to you straight. Giving birth is AWFUL. Being a mum to a newborn is HIDEOUS. But it doesn’t matter, because you’ll get through it, it’s worth it, and you’ll likely do it again (and possibly again). Babies and kids are ace. Being a mum is (on the whole) the most amazing thing ever. Just do it. And then tell all your friends what it was really like.



  1. Expat Mammy
    February 11, 2012 / 10:03 pm

    I love this, Dubai was full of mammies that speed the lie. Thankfully none of them were my friends this a great post

  2. Expat Mammy
    February 11, 2012 / 10:05 pm

    Reblogged this on expatbabyadventures and commented:
    This is a fab post and never a true word spoken so I wanted to share it with you all

  3. February 11, 2012 / 10:54 pm

    Nicely put. I wouldn’t quite use the word hideous for my experience of looking after a new born, but it is certainly no walk in the park. On the other hand, the labour and birth of my daughter was horrific, all four days of it, something I have written a little too much on my blog about me thinks, but the sheer number of words dedicated to it, maybe go some way to showing how deeply it affected me. You are so right, all this celeb claptrap sucks and does nothing positive for us ‘civilians’.

    • February 11, 2012 / 11:16 pm

      No, you’re right. Hideous is probably the wrong word to use. Mind-numbingly confusing is probably a better description.

      I’m sorry to hear your labour and birth were awful. X

      • February 12, 2012 / 11:34 am

        Yip, mind-numbing and confusing are words that take me right back to the new born days!! x

  4. emily harvey
    February 12, 2012 / 10:01 am

    I love this post, it really made me laugh but is so true!!
    I was actually lucky and had a really quick labour so I can’t relate to all you ladies that had an awful one but I did have a bloody awful pregnancy which resulted in my little girl coming 5 weeks early. And was a big shock to my system, first time Mum, tiny baby to take home I didn’t have a clue what I was doing, didn’t even know how to make a bottle of formula up had to ring the Mother (in tears as I was such a tired emotional wreck!) worried one time when she had constant hiccups actually rang my friend who is a nurse and asker her if this was normal!!

    • February 12, 2012 / 7:27 pm

      Oh I feel for you – it’s such a massively hard time isn’t it? Unlike ANYTHING you’ve ever experienced before and it can feel like at least 5 times a day/night something happens that completely throws you and you don’t know how to deal with it.

      (On an unrelated note, it really bothers me that many ante-natal classes don’t teach people how to make up formula and clean/sterilise bottles.)

  5. February 12, 2012 / 10:01 am

    Im afraid I was a bit like this after my first. It was a case of, what’s everyone talking about that was a breeze! But the other births changed my attitude. I equally get really cross about people telling real horror stories to expectant mothers. Think the thing to remember is every birth is completely different, every baby goes through phased of being hard to care for.

    • February 12, 2012 / 7:29 pm

      Agreed. I think it’s good to prepare mums to be about what’s ahead but telling horror stories won’t serve any purpose apart from making them scared.

  6. February 12, 2012 / 10:07 am

    I was lucky in that my son’s birth was actually fine (ok, so I never felt the contractions and didn’t actually get to active labour as non-progression past 3cm meant a cs – which actually was fine, and apart from the getting out of bed, I healed really easily). And apart from 0-100% screaming in 2 secs when he wanted feeding (he refused to suck so we ended up with bottle feeding), he was an easy baby to care for. But totally agree with the celebs spouting out about their perfect births & babies. I guess only the ‘perfect’ ones ever tweet & talk about it though.

    (oh and the clothing dilemma is a nightmare, even now mine’s a year – he wears fewer layers at nursery – although I may as well just put him in a vest as he gets hot there – god know what he’ll be like in summer!, and what to put them in for bed…ahhh)

    • February 12, 2012 / 7:31 pm

      I genuinely think many celebs tweet stuff that make them look like the perfect earth mother, when in reality many of them are tearing their hair out from feeling like they’re not coping.

      It’s such a shame as it would be so refreshing to have more Miranda Kerrs around and fewer Beyoncés.

  7. Sophie
    February 12, 2012 / 10:28 am

    I see the point you are trying to make and I am not sure if some of what you have written is slightly tongue in cheek and an attempt to write a funny post.
    However I really do not see how you can use the word hideous to describe being with your newborn!
    I have felt compelled to write just to let you know that there are some women that really do feel like they are in heaven i.e ME!!!……………..So that might make me different, but I am certainly not lying.
    All Mothers and babies are different, Mums just need to start respecting this fact.

    • February 12, 2012 / 7:47 pm

      Hi Sophie, “An attempt to write a funny post” – ouch! That hurt!

      You make a good point, so I’ve now amended my post to say “looking after a newborn can feel hideous”. I don’t think anyone can argue with this. (Unless extreme tiredness, confusion and hormones going loop-the-loop are heavenly to them – in which case, I’m just plain envious.)

  8. Anoop Singh-Best
    February 12, 2012 / 10:36 am

    Actually both my births were quick and easy. An hour and a half for each, just gas and air, three big pushes and the words “It’s a boy”
    It’s equally important for women to hear both sides. It can be awful, it can be a nightmare, there may be crying but for me it wasn’t.
    I’m not a celebrity and I’m not lying. I was lucky 🙂

    • February 12, 2012 / 7:03 pm

      I envy you! Are you sure you’re not lying? 😉

      You’re right – women need to hear both sides – and I guess it would be helpful if mums who have quick and easy births use words like ‘quick and easy’ like you have, and then back it up with ‘But I know I’m in the minority!’ rather than using words like ‘peaceful’ and ‘heavenly’ which make other new mums feel like total failures.

  9. February 12, 2012 / 12:54 pm

    What a fab post I loved it, your so right about the lie and I know of another group of people to blame your own parents … They never tell you how bad it is it’s all on the hush hush I think they Do it so they get grand kids

    • February 12, 2012 / 7:32 pm

      Ha ha! Too true.

      Right, I’m about to call my mum and tell her what-for.

  10. February 12, 2012 / 3:06 pm

    Thanks for this post and its much needed honesty. I (quite proudly) have never kept quiet about what its REALLY like, lots of people seemed shocked and horrified by what I say! I have an open invitation to anyone, if you want to know anything – I’ll tell you like it is! No one has taken me up on it though!!

  11. February 12, 2012 / 6:08 pm

    Hi-all so true! I had a quick labour but never say it was easy. I ended up with horrific injuries and took ages to recover-I don’t think anyone has it easy they just block it out and subscribe to ‘the big lie’-you are spot on!

    • February 12, 2012 / 7:36 pm

      Judging by some comments here and on my Facebook page, some mums DO have it easy.

      But I still reckon LOADS of celebs and mums pretend to, because they feel they should.

  12. February 13, 2012 / 12:00 am

    Well. With less than 4 weeks til my due date, I thank you for the reality check. So, of in event, I feel any of the above, I can rest assured it might not be a return of my old depression in post natal form but could actually be normal!!! Thanks 😉 x

  13. February 13, 2012 / 10:13 am

    Loved this post! I guess it must be possible to have a dream birth but I’ve never met anyone in real life who has. I think there’s a similar issue with breastfeeding. I was lucky enough to manage to breastfeed both my boys but on both occassions it was really miserable and painful for the first few weeks. When all you hear is what a beautiful natural thing it is and how it ‘only hurts if you’re doing it wrong’ it’s no surprise new mums get so dispirited with it. If it wasn’t for my mother imparting word of wisdom along the lines of ‘Don’t worry! When something’s sucking on your nipple for eight hours a day it’s bound to hurt like a bastard but in a couple of weeks you’ll hardly be able to feel it’ I’d never have kept going. Thank god for honest mums!

  14. February 13, 2012 / 4:33 pm

    Its not just the birth!…Motherhood in the long term is mind-numbing and confusing in many ways, and I definitely agree there are days that could be described as hideous (some tongue in cheek and some not!). Just as well there are many moments of sheer joy inbetween the tears and frustration that without doubt, we all have to deal with. To me, good or bad, it’s every emotion you’ve ever experienced…magnified!

  15. February 17, 2012 / 1:18 pm

    I agree with what you are saying. There are indeed some Mum’s out there that just pop their babies out and don’t bat an eyelid but they are few and far between! I ended up with a caesarean for my first baby but endured labour beforehand, simply being constipated takes me straight back to that experience *shivers*. It’s hard, exhausting, bewildering and absolutely amazing being a Mum but by no means should people fib about the realities!

  16. Charlotte Thompson
    February 22, 2012 / 11:14 pm

    AMEN!!! X

  17. March 7, 2012 / 8:53 am

    So true-nothing feminist about spreading an idealised view of what is pretty tough going. I also read she’d had a C section-another lie?

  18. Too true
    August 8, 2013 / 3:14 pm

    Totally agree with this! I know women who actually get an emotional high for the first couple of weeks after having a baby, but for most of us it’s a ridiculously hard time which no one can prepare you for. For the first 3 months I couldn’t work out why anyone would have more than one baby! Now my little girl is 10 months and so totally worth all that stress…..maybe we’ll even have another one one day! In no rush to relive the newborn days though.

  19. April 24, 2014 / 9:07 pm

    I am so glad that someone actually said it!! I applaud you!! Not that it would have stopped me from having Lucy, but I really do wish that someone would have told me that for the two weeks post birth, I would feel like I had been hit by a bus.

    After scolding a good friend about withholding information, she simply replied ‘I didn’t want to scare you’… And don’t even talk to me about tearing!

    Am now always hideously honest with my friends (pregnant or not) when they ask (and even when they don’t) about how much it hurts, how much of a freaking HERO I am for doing it with no pain relief and for being in labour for nearly 40 hours. It is for their own good!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.