If you're currently in the trenches of new motherhood, or you've lived through those early days previously, you'll know all too well how exhausting and relentless it can be.
There's the endless cycle of feeding and changing and sleeping (or not sleeping as the case may be), with barely time to shower let alone steal some precious downtime.
It's a reality data scientist Caitlin Hudon has been living for the past six months while on maternity leave after her first baby. In a now-viral tweet, the Texas mum broke down just how much the way we spend our time changes with children, particularly when breastfeeding.
And mums around the world are saying - YES!
"Here is what my time looks like before and after," she wrote.
The way you spend your time changes significantly when you have a baby (especially if you're a woman who decides to breastfeed). I think this is best explained visually. Here's what my time looks like before and after: pic.twitter.com/S8Ul0W8k6z— Caitlin Hudon 👩🏼💻 (@beeonaposy) January 11, 2020
In her graph Ms Hudon depicts how time-consuming breastfeeding is, particularly over the first eight weeks. "I really had no idea until I went through it," she tweeted.
Pre-baby: so much free time— Caitlin Hudon 👩🏼💻 (@beeonaposy) January 11, 2020
Month 1: feeding a baby is literally a full-time job
Month 2: finding a groove, but still, so much nursing
Month 3-4: truly the definition of *grind* to balance work with pumping/nursing and caring for baby
Month 5-6: finally a groove plus free time
It truly can't be overstated how much time is devoted to nursing in the first six months of baby's life. (I really had no idea until I went through it!) pic.twitter.com/ayjIoyD2j3— Caitlin Hudon 👩🏼💻 (@beeonaposy) January 11, 2020
If you look closely, you can literally see the amount of free time I have double (the amount of yellow in the fourth vs. fifth bar), which drove me to make this #dataviz ♥️— Caitlin Hudon 👩🏼💻 (@beeonaposy) January 11, 2020
Should have noted that this viz is super simplified to limit the number of categories shown, but so much more needs to happen in a day (like cooking, cleaning, eating, laundry, washing baby stuff, etc.) than is visible. All of this happens during free time or while watching baby.— Caitlin Hudon 👩🏼💻 (@beeonaposy) January 11, 2020
Ms Hudon, who is the lead data scientist at OnlineMedEd, told Essential Baby that she had been trying to explain just how much breastfeeding impacts her schedule. "Since my baby was born, my waking life has been split into two- three hour intervals between nursing or pumping sessions," she says. "Especially for the first few months, I was always tracking what time it is, how long it's been since baby last fed, and how long until the next feed."
And while Ms Hudon admits that she knew breastfeeding would be hard, she says she had no idea how "mentally draining" it would be.
"Trying to communicate all of this has been tough," she adds, explaining that the visual has been a helpful way to do it. "I wish I had seen something like this before I started breastfeeding, just to set expectations properly."
The mum adds that she's been "'pleasantly surprised" by just how much the chart has resonated - and how it's prompted conversations about just how gruelling those early months of motherhood can be.
" I think it's helped in some very small way for folks to understand what those early days are like so that they can empathise," she says. "Before I had a baby, I really just had no idea what a day in the life would actually "look like" so I'm glad it's been helpful for others."
One dad replied with another very 'real' representation of his wife's experience of that first gruelling year: