Don’t worry, they say. Everything is going to be fine. Women never get the trusty manual on how to be an amazing and sane mom. Things seemed to be going well and it was only the first few days of the new mom life. Older moms tell us they just figured it out and rolled with the punches.
Well, we can say for certain that everything changes and although it is going to be just fine–because things do tend to truly work out in the end–it is a struggle being a new mom, especially in the first few weeks. There is no sugar-coating that simple truth. Our entire lives have changed and turned completely upside down and inside out.
There are things we never thought to worry about and things we feared that never really seemed to happen the catastrophic way that we had anticipated. This process of becoming a new mom—particularly for the first time—comes with many rewarding firsts and also boasts some challenges that only a new mommy would be able to understand. Below are 16 things that pretty much all of us struggle with and adapt to within the first three weeks of having birthed a new little life into our old, more organized worlds.
16 No Vino For The Very Weary Mommy
Most of us think we are used to the abstinence from adult beverages having been pregnant for so many months! Many of us dream about our pre-pregnancy life and of going back to what we once were. We fantasize about throwing back a glass (or two!) of vino each night to decompress! Some of us had to break our nightly pinot ritual to keep our little bundle of joy safe. Others may have snuck in a glass or two out of the belief that antioxidants and stress-relieving properties cannot possibly be found anywhere else.
We sometimes tend to forget the implications of breastfeeding and within the first few weeks, it is quite an adjustment for us to realize that we cannot relax with our favorite frosty beverage just yet.
According to The Bump, we may be able to have a drink a few days after the birth of our child. There are conditions though. We have to watch much of what we put into and onto our bodies during this critical, early stage in our baby’s life. Anything we put into our bodies can go into baby’s body. This means that the drinks we consume can go into our milk, which baby then cannot safely consume.
15 No Sleep In The Foreseeable Future
Becoming a new mom—especially when we just gave birth to our very first little one—brings about a lot of unexpected scenarios that we aren't very well prepared for. We hear friends and family ominously warn us that we will never sleep again. We are not shocked as we know what newborn care entails.
We have read all of the books and know what to expect when we are expecting, darn it! We know that we will have to wake up to feed our child and change them. Some of us may even just be paranoid about watching them constantly, keeping us up all night. Parents reports how dangerous it can be not to get enough sleep, so we try to fit in naps whenever we can.
When we accept that we may not sleep much in the foreseeable future, we are more apt to power through and crush this new mom thing. Then when we actually get a small handful of restful hours, we are unexpectedly surprised and equally refreshed! Keeping in mind that it is not a forever thing and we likely will not perish from lack of sleep alone is also helpful. Parents reports that after about six months, we should be able to sleep more. Fingers crossed!
14 New Routines
We all thrive on routine and structure in our lives. Likely, we have an established daily ritual of how our lives go each day, complete with work, our love life, our friends, and eating and sleeping. This mastery has allowed us a sense of control and contentment. When we get ready to have our babies, we can keep this somewhat structured daily routine.
We just have to sprinkle a few extra doctor visits and shopping trips into the mix. We adjust accordingly because, after all, we are still just living life as normal.
The only difference is, we are now responsible for another person’s life. No sweat, right?
We may be a little more uncomfortable and a lot more tired, but the grand scheme of our life is the same. When we have our baby, the truth is that everything changes so much and so quickly. According to Parents, a routine is crucial for new parents. It helps us learn more about our babies and it helps our babies get on a schedule. Having these routines assists in normalizing daily habits—like feedings and bath time—which are things that new parents have not had to deal with before. This can keep anxious feelings low for mom and dad.
13 Fear Will Rear Its Head
When it is time to be discharged from the hospital, reality begins to set in. For those of us truly new moms who are bringing home a living being for the very first time, we sometimes panic a little. This is the first time that we have to be in charge of someone else’s well being.
Even those of us who have been through the whole bringing a kiddo home for the first time feelings, this fear will still crop up unexpectedly.
We wonder if our new baby will adjust well, if he or she likes us, if his siblings will become jealous.
We fear transition—the whole getting situated and the new routine thing comes up again. Also, newborns are so tiny and little and they seem so, well, breakable.
We are afraid of accidentally hurting our new little addition. Our list of potential things that could go wrong seems to decrease once we finally are home for a while and settled, but these fears still pop up. Parenting reports that there are ten common fears among new parents. Some of them are as extreme as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, whereas other fears may be more superficial, like spoiling a child too much.
12 Breastfeeding Challenges
This is a big one for us moms. As we begin to learn how to perfect our breastfeeding skills and routine, we also have to contend with challenges that do undoubtedly come up. Sometimes, babe just won't latch. In other cases, our baby is eating so much we can hardly keep up. Some new babies have a difficult time in general with the whole breastfeeding thing.
We work to positioning just right and make sure they are getting enough. Today’s Parent says that these issues can be some of the biggest challenges for moms that are breastfeeding. Getting an infant to latch properly will make sure that they get the right amount of milk and cause the least pain for mom. Keeping milk production up can be an issue for new mothers, requiring the intervention of doctors and medications in some instances.
We need to be aware that these things can come up in the first few weeks as we work to understand our baby’s feeding schedule and needs. We also may have to battle with a work or life schedule that includes pumping, and this can be painful at times and difficult to keep up with. Babies occasionally fall asleep while they are eating, too, which can require extra work from mom to wake them up.
11 Unwanted Visitors
The ding-dong ringing of the doorbell is the last thing we want to hear as new moms within the first few weeks of bringing our babies home. We're trying to adjust to a new post-baby world here, folks! We are generally unshowered, disheveled and hormonal. Some are more than others. We are not saying that all visitors are not welcome, but we just wish people would call before coming or understand if we need to reschedule. Family and friends love to show up without letting us know, as they feel it is their right to see our new baby.
Regardless, there are still those excited, unannounced visitors who show up with balloons and their own children.
They are horrified when we open the door with a milky wet T-shirt and smelling like a 13-year-old boy on a hot and humid summer day. We are oozing unpleasant smells and exhaustion.
Parents offers suggestions on how to manage ourselves and our house’s cleanliness without having to resort to a manic meltdown. They recommend that we only allow people into one room in our house, which is the one room that we can focus on tidying up. To keep up our own appearance, just throwing a sweater on can be the difference between messy mom and new mom.
10 Partner Pouting
When our lives change so dramatically with the birth of a new baby, our partners suddenly come second. This just seems to happen by default and some moms do not expect it to occur so quickly and automatically. It makes sense though when we are placed in the position of ensuring that our tiny little newborn is being properly cared for.
Everything else kind of goes to the sidelines as we work to perfect our new routine, get down a feeding schedule, change endless diapers, and deal with our emotions—let alone sleep. Our baby requires our full attention, as he or she cannot do anything for themselves yet.
Our partners are sometimes saddened to see that they are not the number one part of our world that they once were and that their little ones have replaced them in that category, at least for the time being.
According to Baby Center, this is a completely normal reaction from him. Dads need to understand that there is a lot of change ahead and that adapting is crucial. Eventually, date nights can be thrown back into the mix, but right now our number job is to be parents. The balance will eventually get restored.
9 Body Snatchers
Sometimes we accidentally catch a glimpse of ourselves naked. (That is, we are likely naked if we are lucky enough to maybe sneak in a moment to take a quick shower!)
Other times, we may see a quick snapshot of our breasts as we are transitioning our baby to the other one. The shock and horror of what pregnancy has done to our bodies is something that most of us will struggle with. We are not regretful over giving birth, but we are disheartened that everything we once were happy with about our body to some degree is now completely different.
Our metabolism is off. Our stretch marks have claimed their own zip codes, and we hurt in places we never knew existed. Luckily, this is all for a good cause and we just keep reminding ourselves of that fact!
Our bodies just produced a human being. The Bump introduced a cause called the 4th Trimester Bodies Project to show off what moms look like after having a baby. Many moms get into a slump because they may not be at their pre-baby weight or they may have sagging skin. Our happiness is not dependent on how we look. The happiness of our babies takes over that little bit.
8 Feeding Frenzy
Another one of those regular, new mommy struggles comes with the fear of our baby not feeding enough or eating too much. We worry about our baby’s weight skyrocketing or plummeting. We stress about our ability to produce enough to satisfy and if we need to supplement with formula.
Parenting offers a number of different tips on how to make sure baby is getting enough milk—from latching on correctly to feeding and pumping frequently enough. New moms are known to analyze all of this and more. We panic when our baby cries and we try to feed him and he does not seem to want to nurse. We are sure he must be hungry. Maybe we're reading his cues wrong.
Ultimately, we must remember that our baby will develop their own feeding ritual along with their own unique routine and habits. We have to reinforce these by staying on our feeding schedules.
The good thing is that we know we can use weighted feeds and wet and dirty diapers, as well as weight gains, to assess baby's milk consumption and whether it is up to snuff.
Generally speaking, our babies normally can get all that they need from regular feedings, but there is nothing wrong with supplementing feedings in lesser common cases, such as babies diagnosed with failure to thrive. Even better, moms who are worried about the ingredients in baby formula can opt out of corn syrup and dairy-based concoctions for donor milk.
7 Sibling Rivalry
For those of us who are becoming new moms again and have already had a child, or for those of us who are lucky enough to be blessed as step-parents or other parental figures, we may experience some backlash from our older kids. It is difficult—no matter how hard we try—when we first bring our baby home and have anything or anyone else that still needs to be a priority. A new baby requires some extra attention, especially while they are getting put on a schedule. As the baby gets older, we are able to stray away more, but they demand almost all of our attention in the beginning.
We try to ensure that our older children have everything they need, including the attention of the other parent or a special treat we provide for them in the form of a gift or time together. Regardless, we may see some rivalry and jealousy as our older littles act out for attention or because they are having difficulty expressing their feelings.
According to Parents, jealousy is normal for children to experience. Children that are age two or under tend to get really envious of their newborn siblings and may try to revert back to baby tendencies to get attention. Relax! It's normal!
6 People Telling Us How To Raise Our Baby
The first few weeks are tough as we travel through our own personal journey of learning curves and expectations. We sometimes share our woes or concerns with others. Sometimes we do not. There are so many millions of opinions out there about how to raise a child and care for a baby. We will undoubtedly be ambushed by in-laws, parents, friends, and even strangers who sling advice our way. Some things are warranted, while other pieces of advice are just unnecessary.
According to CNN, there are a variety of different ways to deal with this unwanted advice.
One of the top recommended ways to address this is head-on, by saying that you are the parent.
Other people feel that the best way to deal with this—particularly while we are vulnerably navigating our first few weeks of new mom life—is to breathe and practice self-restraint. After all, we do not want to end up in prison before our baby is a year old! We practice nodding and smiling and rehearse politely letting people know that we got this mom thing worked out.
Of course, that doesn't mean we need to go on an ego trip and expect that we know it all either. Much of the concerns that arise with a new child—like circumcision, vaccine safety, and dairy allergies—are things that new parents don't even know to ask about. In the end, it is up to us to decide if we listen to the advice or not, but it doesn't actually hurt us to listen.
5 Creeping Up PPD & Anxiety
Postpartum depression and anxiety are real conditions and they truly take the cake on struggles that we may face. Some people call this struggle the baby blues, but it is so much more than that. It is not an easy feat to overcome. New moms—complete with their raging and erratic hormones, lack of sleep and overactive brains—are susceptible to his horrible, debilitating condition that can happen to any of us.
Luckily for us, postpartum depression is very common and quite treatable. Plus, most people understand the severity of this condition much more these days than ever before.
According to the American Psychological Association, one in seven new moms experience postpartum depression.
There are support groups, doctors, and medications that can help. Some women are even hospitalized as a result. The most important takeaway here is to be aware of when you may need help and to ask for it. The American Psychological Association says that we may experience postpartum depression a few days after giving birth or a few months. No mother is immune from experiencing this mood disorder. We need to know our trusting and loving partners are there to help us and that we are not alone. Seeking medical attention is a crucial part of overcoming PPD and other postpartum mood disorders, such as postpartum psychosis and PMDD.
4 Who Are We?
This new change in our lives is huge. We bring a baby home from the hospital and now we suddenly carry a new title. We are now Mom—not just Mrs. Smith or identified by our profession. We are no longer the new girl to the yoga class or the neighbor who always clears off our neighbor’s car when it snows. We once liked to read and knit, binge-watch Grace and Frankie and have frosty beverages on the back deck with our friends.
Motherly addresses this shift in identity and how we should handle it. Now we can barely leave the house, let alone do something that may actually provide us with pleasure. Our joints are stiff and we feel clueless in our new world as we work to navigate and balance the art of being Mom with our other interests.
They also say that the key to us finding happiness in our new identity is to embrace it. We just grew a human in our body and brought them into this world. We are starting a new, exciting adventure. While we may want to regain some of our former life, it is important that we do not rush it, as we have to adapt to mommy life, too!
3 Chronic Crying
As our little one stretches his lung capacity and we wonder if our neighbors may call the cops, we cry a little ourselves. We ponder over the endless sound of our baby crying and wonder if it will ever end. Us new moms tend to catastrophize and we wonder if our baby is not so much learning to self-soothe, but rather, has a real problem. Is my baby broken, we question?
We must remember that the only way that a baby knows how to communicate is through crying at first. They cannot tell us something hurts and have no language—except for crying—to alert us that something is not right.
As we get to know our newborn, we will be able to tend to our babies better and more effectively.
According to Parents, new moms and dads will learn over time that baby actually has more than one cry. Yes, our little one exhibits what they are in distress from with cries of different intensities and sounds. A cry coupled with other hunger cues may make the solution rather obvious, but some cries aren’t so telltale. If a babe is wailing for a lengthy period of time, for example, parents may learn they have a digestive upset that can point them to mom’s diet or their formula of choice.
2 Bathing Baby
In the first few weeks of becoming a parent, some of us bravely bathe our baby. Generally, this is within the first week but honestly, there is no time frame that is “best.” Some parents wait as long as a month, hoping to keep all of that newborn bacteria absorbing into the skin and boosting baby's microbiome.
Keeping our baby clean can be a sponge bath or a full infant bath-time experience. With the plastic basin in tow, we prepare to wash this little, fidgety creature for the first time. The struggle we have with bathing our baby is simply this: How in the world do we do it?
We know how to give a bath but bathing a newborn who is likely screaming and freaking out because he would much rather be warm in our womb or dry and nursing can be mentally frazzling. In addition, we want to ensure we are getting our baby clean enough but not drying out his delicate skin with unnecessary, frequent baths.
We err on the side of “one can never be too clean.” Fit Pregnancy recommends that we wash the child when they have a full tummy, as they may be a little sleepier and more content. Starting at the head and working our way down tends to be a foolproof method. The messy areas are where we should focus on for the first few baths.
1 Reading Cues
We whip out our baby books and try to figure out what on this green Earth could be wrong with our baby. Our little one is grimacing or crying. Why is she spitting up so much? Is this normal? Have we allowed enough time for digestion? All of these questions—which are ultimately about reading cues from our babies—run through our minds constantly.
HelpGuide reminds us that there are a number of reasons that our baby may be crying. Again, this is their primary form of communicating with us, so it could mean anything from hunger to needing to be changed.
This is just like any new relationship. We have to give ourselves time to get to know the new human who is now part of our lives.
As we navigate this world and get to know our infant better, we will begin to recognize the more common cues to eat and when it is a good time to put our baby down for a nap.
HelpGuide reports that babies generally cut down on crying after they hit six weeks old, so this crying phase should be short-lived. We have to remember that we cannot do it all and just do our best to soothe the little one.