As a new mom, it is one of the most surreal experiences to be sent home with a newborn like we're just supposed to know what to do. Babysitting stints as a young adult are not enough to prep new parents for what they're about to be thrown into, as much as they'd like to think so!
The complete shock for parens is realizing that they have to take care of, clothe, bathe, feed, and extract boogers from this tiny human for the rest of their life (or at least until they can do it themselves) comes on like a rushing locomotive in that first week home.
So, as new clueless moms, we tend to mess up and forget things, right from the start. Between mommy brain and earth-shattering life changes, it would be more questionable if things didn't go wrong once in awhile! It's OK, we all do it! Even on second and subsequent children.
Even after reading countless books, articles and blogs and after securing the best support around us, these type of mess-ups don't mean we're bad moms, they just point to our high expectations of how we think things will be once we get home. As a mom of two, I've done just about everything on this list, both times I had a baby.
Let's explore the things that most people mess up on, so new moms can be prepared and set some new expectations.
15 Forgetting To Eat
For some reason, the first day or two postpartum come with a lack of appetite for some women. And your physical needs tend to disappear in context of your baby's, making your forget you even need to eat.
It's quite common, as your body is healing from the trauma of giving birth to lose your appetite or even feel nauseous. This will typically subside within a few days. But if it lingers, be aware that a loss of appetite can also be a sign of postpartum depression.
It's important to keep yourself properly nourished after having a baby, especially if you're breastfeeding. Always keep a water bottle nearby, take family up on offers to make you dinner, and keep granola bars, bananas, and other convenient healthy food where they can easily be accessed so you don't end up undernourished.
14 Trying To Do Too Much
You no sooner get home from the hospital, than you start to feel the pressure to keep up with your regular routine and/or get back into your pre-baby shape. Perhaps it's your own self-induced pressure, but it's tangible pressure nonetheless.
I tried walking to pick my son up from school one day after my daughter was born and it was so incredibly uncomfortable I had to turn around.
The biggest telltale sign that you're doing too much is an increase in bleeding. If your postpartum bleeding started to subside and it picks up again, you're likely trying to do too much too fast. You need time to heal.
You are not going to be able to hop right into your normal routine or go back to your regular workout. Give yourself permission to just ease into your new role of being mom.
13 Not Allowing People To Help
You haven't allowed anyone who has offered to help you and you sure as heck haven't taken the initiative to outright ask anyone to help you. Maybe you're not sure what you need help with. Maybe you don't trust anyone can take care of your baby while you take a much-needed break.
But the reality is, you probably could use a little help with something and you really could use a break.
Make a list of at least 5 things that people can help you with so you know what to say when they offer. Then, don't allow yourself to feel one ounce of guilt about it! People love to help! And you deserve some nurturing as much as your dear little darling.
Here are some ways that people can help, to get you started: do your grocery shopping, make your family a meal, come over on a Saturday morning to take the baby so you can "sleep in," take your other children to the park so they get attention, or whisk you away for a massage.
12 Trying To Get On A Schedule
You imagine sleep training your baby right away and taking her to baby and me classes, the coffee shop, and church like normal. This won't happen. In fact, just plan on nothing being planned. Just plan on going with the flow and the mood your baby is in each day.
For the first few days, your baby likely won't know night from day, let alone nap-time from yoga time.
That being said, it is comforting to a baby as they grow to have a routine. Brushing their teeth and following it up with a book and a massage every night lets them know when it's bedtime and makes them feel secure. This kind of routine is great, but you still need to expect the baby to be up at any random hour of the night (and day!)
Nothing is predictable wherever a baby is involved.
11 Expecting To Keep Up With Chores
You typically have laundry day on Mondays and Thursdays. Floors get cleaned on Fridays. Bathrooms are thoroughly cleaned every Tuesday and the cat litter gets changed daily.
The reality of what happens after a baby is born is that laundry is done every 6.3 minutes (or 6.3 days), you start regularly eating off of paper plates (or not eating), and you consider the floors clean as long as you don't feel like you're walking through gravel when you step on it.
The chores are not going to get done, and that's completely acceptable. Either ask your family for help with the chores or just be OK allowing your strict cleaning schedule to slide. The day will come soon enough when you can get back to your chores, but it's not worth worrying about at this stage.
10 Forgetting The Diaper Bag
You're not used to carrying anything other than yourself and your Coach with you. So, the first few outings with your newborn, you'll probably forget the diaper bag. Even with our second child, we forgot the diaper bag on our first few outings.
It just wasn't part of our routine anymore and it slipped our minds. Plus, as a mom, it is kind of a drag having to carry along even more stuff. We're the ones that carry purses and that somehow always end up carrying everything. So, it's only natural that we'd forget the diaper bag.
The good part is, those first few outings with a newborn are typically short and you may not even need anything that's in the diaper bag. Or you can just buy a small pack of diapers while you're out. No biggie.
9 Ignoring Other Children
You think once you have a second child that you'll just split your time between them. But what really happens is that baby gets about 98% of your attention and any of your other children split the remaining 2%.
Your husband who? It's just that new babies require constant care and they can't do anything without your assistance, so they just require more.
This is little consolation to your other children though, of course. Even though you're acutely aware that this is happening, they'll continue reminding you. Yes, the baby does require most of your attention, but there are still things you can do with your other children to make it feel less like they're being abandoned.
I always gave my son constant reminders that I did all the same things for him when he was a baby and that when his sister got a little older, she wouldn't need so much care. I also made sure to slip in special mom-and-son events like spontaneous donut dates after church.
And finally, I incorporated him into the things the baby and I were doing and picked him up from school with the stroller when I could.
8 Panicking About Everything
After having a baby, you suddenly become convinced that everything is a danger to your child. A bead you saw on the floor last week, that you're not sure ever got picked up, is surely going to come out from under somewhere and choke him at some point.
Every story you’ve ever heard about harm coming to any baby suddenly comes rushing at you like a horror story villain with a chainsaw.
Your fight or flight response peaks along with your protective instincts after having a baby, and that's what causes this perfect storm of panic.
Knowing that this is more about biological changes than actual danger though, you can learn to ignore those little voices in your head that warn you of constant, eminent doom. There's a big difference between this and your mother's intuition.
7 Thinking Everything Is A Medical Emergency
Babies are fragile. They seem so fragile sometimes that you become worried about their every little movement and the slightest hint of a red spot. You find yourself asking your mom, "does my baby seem yellowish to you?" And your search history on Webmd would reveal your baby hypochondria hysteria.
The thing is, babies are actually quite resilient and those protective instincts of yours are kicking in big time again. While something like a fever over 100.4 in the first few weeks of life is always an emergency, most of the maladies you encounter are probably nothing to worry about.
You're still going to check with your doctor of course, but you'll look back on this crazy time in a few years and wonder what you were so darn worried about.
6 Waking The Baby To Feed Or To Check If They’re Alive
Ok, unless your doctor tells you to, it's not always advisable or necessary to wake a sleeping baby. I will admit that my babies slept pretty well by 6 weeks. My daughter slept 12 hours straight early on and it made me feel so guilty (I know! Please don't hate me).
Although all the proper manuals would've advised me to wake her every 2-3 hours, I wasn't about to wake her! She was eating and growing normally, so we had nothing to worry about.
You might also feel the need to check on the baby's breathing every few minutes, but this can just become compulsive after a while. The unnecessary pressure just makes you more anxious, makes you lose valuable sleep, and isn't really helping anything.
If you feel like you're checking is inhibiting your daily functioning, it's worth mentioning to your doctor.
5 Installation The Car Seat Wrong
Almost no one installs the car seat correctly. Therefore, every new parent should take their car straight to the fire department or other credible car seat installer because almost every new parent does it wrong. It's estimated that about 90% of car seats are either installed or used incorrectly.
Find a certified car seat installer near you and make an appointment. It's just not worth anything in the world to ride around with a car seat that's been installed incorrectly and it's really unnecessary with these free resources available to you.
Many parents-to-be aren't aware that children aren't supposed to wear jackets while they're buckled either. And placing anything in or attaching anything to the car seat that wasn't manufactured with the car seat is a potential danger.
So in addition to visiting a certified installer for your car seat, make sure you've researched car seat laws and recommendations in your state. These change fairly often, so there could even be differences between children close in age.
4 Holding Or Stimulating The Baby Every Minute
Many parents think that they have to "play" or amuse their newborn with activities all day. While quality time with your baby is essential, you actually don't have to entertain them every hour of the day.
Just having normal conversations, carrying about your normal routine, reading whatever you're reading out loud, and doing your own activities in front of them is more than enough to keep their brains stimulated. In fact, trying to keep them entertained all day might actually overstimulate them.
Do some of the things you normally do while your baby watches from the bouncy seat or sling. My babies loved to watch me work out and listen to me sew. The movements and noises were rhythmic and mesmerizing. This is especially helpful when you've been missing your autonomy.
3 Not Trusting Their Own Instincts
Many new parents wonder if they really know anything at all about newborns, but really they know way more than they give themselves credit for. Even though not everything is an emergency, you really can trust your gut on some things.
If the person manning the nursery at the grocery store is giving you sketchy vibes, just bring Bubs along shopping with you. And if something seems off with your baby, you're the person who would know best!
Make sure you've chosen a pediatrician that really listens to you and addresses any concerns you have with compassion. You just need to trust in yourself and your motherly instincts and know that you'll know when something is actually wrong.
2 Isolating Themselves
The tough thing about becoming a new mom is that it is such an isolating experience. Your newborn consumes every ounce of your energy and stamina, so the thought of doing anything else seems monumental.
You feel like you can't go to happy hour with your girlfriends, you can't just pop in the car and head to the store. Shoot, you've been advised that you can't even take baby into public places until they're a few weeks old. And while you love your new baby, it's not necessary to become a complete hermit.
One of the best things I did after having my son was attending a new mom group at the hospital where he was born. It gave me a reason to put on actual clothes and leave the house. It provided the support from other moms in the same exact same position. It allowed us all to have a cathartic cry when we needed it.
It gave me access to the lactation consultant who ran it. If there's a new mom's group in your area, I would strongly advise trying to make it, even when everything tells you that you can't. Or just have a quick lunch with a friend during the time when your baby is most likely to be content.
Other support can come in the form of Facebook groups of your baby's birth month. Someone was always awake from my group during 2am feedings to give me support, and we all bonded over having babies around the same time.
1 Buying A Million Newborn Diapers
Whenever I've planned a baby shower for someone, I have always suggested bringing size 2 or higher to guests, because babies will be in those sizes much longer than they'll be in newborn diapers. In fact, both of my babies outgrew newborn diapers within a week.
Both times, we had an excess left over. Neither of them was in a size 1 for very long either. You'll likely only need a bag or two of newborns and maybe one case of size 1, depending on how much your baby weighs when they're born (mine were 7lb 15oz and 8lb 14oz).
So my best advice is, if you're able to stock up, the most sensible thing to do is make sure you're stocking up on sizes 2 and up. While I was pregnant, I tried couponing just for diapers and ended up with a good little stockpile for the first several months.
If you have an eye for deals, make sure you pick up diapers in a range of sizes, with more size 2 and up so you don't end up with an excess.