Motherhood is one of the great obsessions of our age. Everyone seems to have an opinion, even those who will never experience it (men), and those for whom it is a distant memory (grumpy old ladies). Whether you breast-feed or bottle-feed, give birth naturally or deliver by Caesarean, stay at home or return to work, the impression is that whatever you are doing, it's almost certainly wrong.
The most curious aspect of this is that much of the pressure comes not from some patriarchal conspiracy, but from women. Even the National Childbirth Trust recently stated that it wants to see the use of epidurals during labour reduced by 40 per cent to "boost traditional births" - aka "agonising pain".
Most confusing of all is what a friend of mine calls "the conspiracy of silence": the abyss that exists between what people will tell you about having children and what it really entails. The truth is, as my mother once remarked darkly, that if women thought properly about having children, no one would ever give birth again.
Here then are ten things about motherhood that no one will tell you.