Being a mother is hard work. But motherhood is even more frightening and intimidating if it’s a mom’s first time bringing a baby home from the hospital. Caring for a newborn for the first time brings it’s own set of unique challenges that are sure to make the first few months quite the adventure. A new mom must quickly learn the ropes in order to take care of her baby (and to not lose her sanity).
Here are fifteen essential things all new-mothers need to know. From painstakingly true advice on what to expect in the first few months to the truth about what you just do not need to care about, all moms should know these truths before jumping into the depths of motherhood.
If anything these fifteen pieces of advice show, it’s that becoming a mother for the first time is a scary yet extremely exciting time. Mom will likely be overwhelmed with dozens of emotions, ranging from good to bad. Motherhood may be different from what she expected, or she may feel she didn’t prepare well enough. Most new moms don’t feel like they’re doing a very good job, even though they’re probably going above and beyond for their newborn. It can be frustrating to not really know what to expect or how to prepare, and that’s why these truths are so important for new moms to hear. Having a little insight into what to expect will help make the transition to motherhood all the better, so mom can give all of her attention to her new baby.
15 Enjoy Every Moment Because It Won't Last
Between bathing and feeding your newborn, you probably barely have any time left for yourself. But don’t let your hectic schedule stop you from enjoying every moment. It’s no secret that babies grow quickly, so you’ll soon be missing their newborn moments as they grow older. That’s why it’s always important to enjoy every moment, even the little ones.
Make sure to document all of your little one’s big moments, such as their first time being bathed or eating solid foods. You’ll be happy that you went overboard with the photos, video recordings, and social media posts, since you can go back and reminisce even when your child is older. Truly make the best of every moment spent with your baby because these are the types of memories you can’t recreate.
14 Don’t Be Bothered By Small Things
It’s easy to get stressed out by small things, such as not finding your brand of diapers at the store or not getting a stroller in the color you wanted. These things may feel important in the moment, but in a couple of days they probably won’t seem significant at all. Pick and choose your battles wisely so that you’re not stressing yourself out with unnecessary, minuscule things.
Furthermore, don’t be hard on yourself if you made a mistake or two. Perhaps you picked up the wrong type of formula or were too tired to take your baby to the park. Beating yourself up over small things like this won’t help anyone. The most important thing is that you’re taking care of your baby and putting their needs first. Everything may seem chaotic and like it’s falling apart in the moment, but chances are you’re only overthinking things.
13 Hold Baby As Much As Your Heart Desires
Some parents and experts argue that holding your baby too much can be harmful. They say it can impact your baby’s independence as they may get too attached to you, thus harming their development. But most moms and dads would agree that you can’t hold your baby enough - and we couldn’t agree more.
Especially when they’re first born, this is a crucial time for you to develop a lasting bond with your baby. Holding and cuddling them is the best way to do this, so don’t be afraid to pick up your baby whenever you want. Chances are, since you’ll be spending so much time with your little one, you’ll be happy for a break when someone offers to hold the baby. But never feel bad or wrong for wanting to hold your baby.
12 Always Trust Your Instincts
They don’t call it ‘maternal instinct’ for nothing. You hear countless stories of mothers listening to their instincts and preventing disasters from happening. If you feel like something is wrong or off, never hesitate to listen to your instincts and take action (whatever that may be). Even if you’re a new mother, don’t doubt the strength of your instincts because odds are, you’re probably right.
If you get a weird feeling from an acquaintance, it’s okay to not let them around your kids. If you don’t feel comfortable with a toy or game your child is playing, then get them to stop. Trust your gut when it comes to these sorts of situations because there’s probably a good reason your intuition is telling you to be on guard.
11 Don’t Stress Over Your Post-Baby Body
When you first become a mom, the last thing you need to worry about is your weight when you have a million other things calling for your attention. Your body changes greatly with pregnancy, and it is still changing post-baby. There’s no need to try and get your body back to where it was before right away. You should focus on adjusting to your role as a mom before trying to change the number on the scale.
It’s unfortunate that we live in a society that puts so much pressure on women to look a certain way, even after they’ve just given birth. We consider it a huge success for women to get back down to their previous size after being pregnant, but that’s an unhealthy way to look at things. You’ve just brought life into the world, so the last thing you need be concerned with is your looks. The most important thing is ensuring you and your baby are healthy and happy. Anyone who tells you otherwise obviously doesn’t have their priorities straight.
10 Not Everyone Is Going To Give You Good Advice
Let’s get one thing straight: a lot of people are going to give you advice, but not all of it is going to be good. You shouldn’t feel bad for ignoring or disagreeing with someone’s advice, especially if you didn’t ask for it. Many people feel inclined to offer expectant and new mothers words of wisdom, but not all of it may actually be helpful. Perhaps you disagree with the parenting style or the advice is just downright outrageous, but you sure don’t have to follow it either way.
Never feel guilty for not enforcing the same punishments your mom did, or using the same bribing tactics your friends with kids use. Parenting is personal, and there’s no single right or wrong way to do things. You can tell the advice giver you don’t like their advice, or you can simply accept it with a grain of salt. The most important thing to remember is you don’t have to follow it.
9 You Can’t Take Care Of Baby If You Don’t Take Care Of Yourself
It’s a given that you can’t perform to the best of your ability if you’re not taking care of yourself. So, it should come as no surprise that you can’t properly take care of your child if you’re not putting yourself first. That’s not an excuse to completely flake on your parenting responsibilities or to put your needs before your child. But it is okay to take time for yourself to ensure you’re still sane.
Ask a friend or family member to watch your baby for a few hours if you need a break. Treat yourself to a spa day or a little retail therapy, or you can even go on a simple walk to clear your head. Even if you can’t get a break from your baby, there are still plenty of ways to practice self-care. Use your baby’s nap time as some ‘me time’ for yourself, or enjoy a movie (and maybe some wine, if you’re not breast feeding) once the baby goes to sleep. Don’t neglect your self-care just because you’re a mom.
8 Don’t Stop Doing The Things You Love
On a similar note, you shouldn’t stop doing things you love simply because you’re a mother. It may be more difficult to find time or money to pursue your passions, and you may simply never have as much time as you used to once you become a mother. But that shouldn’t completely discourage you from doing what you love.
You’re still the same person you were before becoming a mom. Continuing to do things that make you happy is a part of self-care, and will ensure you can be the best mom possible to your little one. When your child gets older, perhaps you can even introduce them to your passion and then you two can bond over a mutual passion. Just never forget that you’re not just a mom, but also a person with interests and passions who deserves to pursue them.
7 Sleep Deprivation Seriously Sucks
The last time you pulled an all-nighter was probably in college. But, when you bring a newborn home, prepare for months on end of sleepless nights. Sleep deprivation is no joke. It can leave you both physically and mentally exhausted, and you may experience increased irritation and sadness. Likewise, it will have a noticeable impact on your body, leaving you feeling fatigued and your brain not working at its full capacity.
If you have a partner, it’s key to work out a schedule of who will get up for nightly feedings and changings, so you both have a chance at a decent night’s sleep. If it’s just you looking after baby, or your partner has to get up early for work, try sleeping when your baby is sleeping (this includes during nap times during the day). While your sleep schedule will still be a bit out of whack, this will at least ensure you’re getting roughly 8 hours of sleep per day, even if it’s not linear.
6 Postpartum Depression Doesn’t Always Feel Like Depression
You will feel a wave of emotions when you first become a mom, some good and some bad. You might feel overwhelmed, sad, angry, or even panicked, especially after just taking a newborn home from the hospital. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t feel like everything is rainbows and butterflies during the first couple months of having a newborn.
But, if you find your emotions are getting in the way of your daily life, it might be time to talk to someone. If you are experiencing overwhelming bouts of sadness, anxiety, or anger, it could be a sign of postpartum depression. Many women suffer from this post-birth, so don’t feel alone if you suspect you may be dealing with it, too. The best thing is to talk to a professional so you can get to the root of the problem.
5 Make Sure To Leave Your House At Least Once A Day
When you have a new baby at home, it’s easy to not leave your house for days on end. It’s a struggle to get a new baby out of the house, what with all of the things you need to pack and plan for. Not to mention, your little one probably gets more disagreeable the longer they’re out for, so we don’t blame you if you prefer staying inside rather than going out.
But, it’s easy to get cabin fever when all you’re doing is hanging out at home, even if the baby is keeping you busy. You might get more agitated or feel depressed if you're stuck indoors for too long. That’s why it’s always a good idea to try and leave your house at least once per day. Take baby on a walk to the park or go visit friends or family. Leaving your house once a day will ensure you don’t go stir crazy, and will also help your baby (and you) get used to outings as a family.
4 Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For Help
You can read all of the parenting books, but there will still be things you don’t know. And that’s why it’s okay (and encouraged) to ask for help. If you need advice or don’t know the answer to a question, call up an experienced mom for some hands-on advice that is sure to be of some help. If you don’t have a person you can reach out to, the Internet is a great solution. Hit up parenting websites or forums to get answers or to even talk one-to-one with fellow parents.
Sometimes we may feel that we shouldn’t need help, especially if the problem seems trivial or if we expect ourselves to know the answer. But parenting is something you can only really get good at through experience, and that’s why it’s good to learn from parents who’ve already been through the ropes. You should never feel bad for asking for help, whether it’s the answer to a question or if you need a break from baby.
3 It’s Okay To Just Do Nothing In A Day
When you have a baby, it’s not really possible to simply do nothing in one day. There are always piles of laundry to be cleaned, stomachs to be fed, and a spill to be mopped up. What we mean is that it’s okay to do nothing eventful when you have small children at home. Simply lounging around at home and spending time playing with your kids is adventure enough.
Don’t feel bad if you didn’t take your kids on an educational outing or didn’t even get out of your pyjamas. Taking it easy, especially right after becoming a new mom, is a good way to transition into your role and help keep your sanity. Have some creative crafts or fun games on hand that you can do with your kids if you’re planning on having a ‘do nothing’ day at home.
2 Take As Many Pictures As You Can
Like we’ve already said, the time goes quickly when you’re raising a baby. Before you know it, they’ll be starting their first day of school and then just as quickly will be graduating and leaving for college. That’s why you need to snap as many photos as you can while you have the chance.
Make sure to document every big moment, including events like birthdays and family celebrations. Get photos of when your child takes their first step or loses their first tooth, and try your hardest to get videos of your kid's first word or first soccer game. You’ll love reminiscing over the photos, and you’ll love sharing them with your child and others as the time passes. You can never have too many photos.
1 Don’t Be Too Hard On Yourself
It’s easy to beat yourself up as a mom, but that shouldn’t be the case. You learn how to parent from hands-on experience, so you’ll only get better with time. Learn to forgive yourself for making mistakes, such as if your house looks like a hurricane hit it or if you haven’t had a shower in a few days. And learn to not be afraid of your emotions. Perhaps motherhood isn’t all you expected it to be or you don’t enjoy the newborn phase as much - many women experience these very feelings.
Most moms feel like they’re doing something wrong when they bring home their first baby, so don’t feel like you’re all alone in the world. Instead, look to support groups (whether online or in real life) that can put you in contact with other moms who are going through similar experiences. Or, talk with your friends and family to learn through their experiences. Never forget that you’re not alone in this.
If you’re becoming a new mother, it may seem at times like you have no idea what you’re doing or are seriously underprepared. Try not to doubt your abilities. Remember that experience is the best way to learn how to parent, so you’ll only start to get better once the baby is born. There’s no doubt that it’s going to take hard work and patience, and is also going to be frightening and highly stressful at times. You may feel like you’re not in control of the situation, or don’t know what to do. But, also remember how wonderful motherhood is. For all of the bad that comes with it, there comes even more good. At the end of the day, know that you’ll be overwhelmed by the love that you feel for your new baby, and that will help pull you through the difficulties that may arise. Being a mom sure is hard work, but it definitely pays off in the end.