You've probably heard not to believe everything you see on television. This piece of advice may be most applicable when it comes to the small screen's portrayal of the newborn phase, which real-life parents know is often full of sleepless nights and tears (from both the adults and baby).
But watch an episode of, say, This Is Us, and you may think that caring for a newborn is a total walk in the park, as someone recently pointed out on Reddit.
"Every TV episode about newborns seems to have been written by people who have never met a newborn," lamented u/rainydaywoman in the Beyond the Bump subreddit.
But it's not the only show that's gotten the newborn period all wrong. "First-time parents come home from the hospital and immediately settle in with a cup of tea and snuggle on the couch," the person wrote, adding, "New mom lets dad nap for a few hours, and when he wakes up, he watches as she effortlessly consoles the twins. The house is immaculate."
Most parents would probably agree these scenes aren't remotely relatable. But those stories are for entertainment, right? The original poster acknowledges that, but still wishes the storylines were a bit more realistic.
"It makes me want to scream and honestly inserts that self-doubt I try so hard to overcome in thinking, 'Oh my God, maybe I'm just an incompetent mother, and it shouldn't really be this hard,'" she wrote. "But it is hard, and if you're not gonna show how hard it is, then don't write a storyline that involves newborns because it just perpetuates unrealistic expectations and magnifies insecurity about being a new parent."
She has a point. Being a new parent is hard. And even though TV isn't real life, it can still add unnecessary pressure during a particularly vulnerable period. Other users were quick to sound off on other shows guilty of these inaccurate portrayals.
"The show Breaking Bad is hilarious about this. They have a baby and then have family friends over within a few days, entertaining in their perfectly clean house. In another scene, Walt is holding the baby, and he literally just goes, 'Well, time for your nap," and puts her down in the playpen where she immediately falls asleep," one person noted.
And let's not forget that double-life as a criminal thing. I think we can all agree Walter and Skyler White never received any parents of the year accolades.
"I remember watching Lost, and Claire had her baby and was walking around like nothing happened, perfectly ok," another chimed in.
But not all shows portray the newborn period as roses and sunshine.
"I remember in Orange Is the New Black when Poppy's husband left her with their new baby to go on a 'walkabout.' Larry goes to her place, her boob is hanging out, she's a mess, and shoves the baby at him so she can finally get a shower. I feel that in my soul," said one Redditor.
It's so nice to see a more accurate representation not only of life while parenting a newborn but breastfeeding.
"The one show I did feel got it right in other aspects though is 9-1-1. One of the characters has a baby, and immediately, I saw the signs of her postpartum depression and related so much to it. They got that part down perfectly," another said.
Postpartum depression affects one in nine women, and representation on television can help raise awareness and let parents know they aren't alone. And even those who don't experience postpartum depression sometimes need the reassurance that sleepless nights, breastfeeding struggles, and the desire to take an extra-long shower are all perfectly normal parts of being a new parent. Madison and Kevin from This is Us (and countless other characters on the small, or even big, screen) may make it look easy, but that doesn't mean it is.