When a woman is expecting a baby she may feel like once she has a baby that everything will just fall into place like a Tetris game. She’s sure she will adjust to the no sleep, the crying and the breastfeeding with ease. But the truth is once that little baby comes home reality is going to hit and it will be nothing like she expected.
Google is wonderful and books are great too. But nothing but actual hands on experience can really prepare a person to be a parent. The next best thing to that is the invaluable insight that a seasoned parent can provide. Mother’s who are currently expecting or still putting on those mesh afterbirth undies, do yourself a favor and pick the brain of another mother who has children.
We’ve gathered a list of 15 things that other new Mom’s wish they knew before they brought their baby home from the hospital. It may not make coming home a breeze or the crying nights any less exhausting, but it will hopefully leave those who need it feeling a little bit better and slightly more prepared then before.
Read this list, commit it to memory and then read it again.
We all have that one friend that is constantly overloading our social media feeds with albums like “Baby’s First Time In Bath” or “Baby’s First Time Meeting Uncle JJ” and it’s 75 pictures of basically the same exact thing. Don’t get me wrong I love looking at your new baby too and I’m guilty of posting pictures of my kids too. BUT not everyone wants to see 40 different new outfit poses of your little guy no matter how cute he looks in his romper. When you’re a new mom you’ve got tunnel vision and all you see is that baby. But try and spare your friends just a little bit and limit yourself.
However, there is another extreme of new moms that really gets under my skin too. And that’s the “I’m protecting my child’s privacy”. It’s that new Mom that announces that yes they did have a baby but they aren’t telling you their name, stats or posting any pictures. And this wouldn’t be so bad if we didn’t have to spend 9 months reading their TMI status updates about their pregnancy. We’re invested now! You owe us something!
14Obsessing Over The Mommy Pooch
When you’re pregnant “they” tell you not to be overly concerned with the number on the scale. And although these same experts tell you that being pregnant doesn’t necessarily give you a green light to order a foot-long sub and follow it up with a Chipotle burrito. Not like I’ve done that or anything. But you should still take both extremes of advice and meet somewhere there in the middle of eating healthy but also satisfying your cravings or extreme hunger pains when needed. Eventually, everything will come off.
One mistake new mothers make during those first 4 weeks after the baby has arrived is becoming obsessive over the left overweight and the not taut tummy. Some women even make the mistake of putting themselves on a restrictive diet plan which can spell disaster if you are breastfeeding.
The best advice I can give you is that all of the weight will come off, but there is no point trying to button those skinny jeans now because you just had a baby and the only person’s weight you should be concerned with is that little one.
13Diet... What Diet?
If you become obsessed with dropping the weight immediately after you deliver you are probably going to want to sign up for Weight Watcher’s and cut out all of the “bad food” and severely cut your calories.
But if you are breastfeeding this is especially dangerous. Just like when you were pregnant your baby depends on YOU to provide them with all the sustenance they need to thrive. If you start cutting things from your diet or restricting your calorie intake you run the risk of not making enough milk for your baby or making milk but not producing good quality.
Even if you aren’t breastfeeding maintaining a well-balanced diet is still important. Food is energy and sure if you are formula feeding you can implement a diet sooner than a nursing mother, you should still wait until after you get out of that 4th trimester because you need your strength.
12It's A One-Mom Show
When I had my fourth baby 2 years ago my mother said she was going to move in for a month. My initial reaction was to tell her no and I think I did. I wasn’t a first-time mother, I knew what needed to get done and I was sure I could manage just fine. But like most mom’s she completely ignored me and moved in any way. And I’m glad she did.
My daughter didn’t take to breastfeeding right away, there was still school to contend with for my oldest boys and my toddler still needed to be entertained. And then my husband got sick with the flu and I got mastitis. As much as I wanted to be supermom and prove that having another baby wouldn’t stop me I quickly realized that I need her help.
Don’t make the mistake of turning down help in any form it comes. If someone wants to come over, ask them to make a run to the store for you first or ask them to hold the baby while you take a shower. And don’t feel weird about it either! You will be surprised at how many people want to help you and expect you to ask them!
11Ignoring The Symptoms
After you deliver a baby it’s almost like your body is in shock afterward. And even though birth is a completely natural process and doesn’t always come with cause for alarm you still want to be mindful post-delivery of any weird changes and symptoms.
If you had a C-section, it’s critical that you pay to your healing process. Things like redness, puss or swelling from your incision could be very dangerous and you need to call your doctor right away.
Breastfeeding mothers are going to have tender and swollen breast, it’s just par for the course. But if that is coupled with a fever or warm breast you may have mastitis and you need to call your doctor or midwife.
Bleeding that is heavier than a normal period or that won’t stop, swelling of the legs, smelly vaginal discharge, or pain when you pee are all things you should not ignore.
10Mom Comes Last
You have birthed a beautiful 7 pound 8-ounce little girl with a head full of dark curly hair just like your husband. And also a 15-pound weight that is strapped to your back for all of eternity called, Mommy Guilt.
After I had my first baby I remember waking up in the hospital and my husband was changing him. He had been awake for 15 minutes and I had not heard him cry. So I started crying because I couldn’t believe I slept through him needing me. But that’s silly because I was in labor for 21 hours and I was exhausted. It happens.
Many new mothers make the mistake of thinking that they have to give into that mommy guilt and that being a mother means never taking time for yourself, never caring for your own hygiene or mental well-being. You can’t always get rid of mommy guilt, but you should try as hard as you can to not let it overtake you. Remember a happy mommy equals a happy babyNot listening to your mommy intuition
9 Silencing The Mommy Intuition
Anything we want an answer to is readily available to us no matter where we are and at all times of the day. When you become a new mother you don’t also get a handbook that tells you the answer to why she cries from 4 to 7 PM every single day. Since we don’t have something like that we have Google and we have social media mommy support groups. But sometimes the advice you get from the internet or even well-meaning friends can be overwhelming and contradictory or even just plain wrong.
Even the most confident woman and seasoned mother can be left feeling unsure and feeling like they can’t even take care of their own baby. It’s not that support groups and the internet can’t be helpful, but sometimes the best thing you can do is just shut out all of the other noise and just do what feels right.
8Starting Too Early
If you are in any support groups online you will notice that a lot of new moms are constantly posting questions like “Help! My 5-day old cries if I’m not holding her! How can I break her of that?” or “My 3 week old still wakes every 2 hours to eat. How do I sleep train?” I always cringe when I read those.
I get that if you have never been a parent before or know much about babies, that no matter how prepared you think you are to deal with the crying and sleepless nights, you’re not really prepared once reality sets in. But trust me when I tell you that trying to sleep train a baby anytime before they are ready is going to invoke even more chaos. Ask about the Cry-It-Out Method in a mommy support group and you are going to get two very strong opinions. Those who strongly advise against and those who swear by it.
The truth lies right there in the middle. CIO can be a lifesaver for an exhausted mother if used appropriately. But trying to start something like this before your baby is over the age of 6 months is not a good idea.
7Breastfeeding Starts Too Late
For awhile no one talked about the ugly truth about pregnancy, motherhood and body changes. And maybe now we talk too much about it. Check your local bookstore and you will find countless books from celebrity mother who reveal the things “no one ever tells” you like how much farting you do when your pregnant or the incontinence issues you deal with postpartum.
One thing that people love to shed light on and prepare new mothers about is the struggles that often come with breastfeeding. For some women, it’s a challenge the eagerly anticipate. For other’s it’s a fight they want no part of and decides to skip altogether.
Yes, breastfeeding is hard and is a huge time commitment and for the first 3 weeks can be very painful. But breastfeeding is also beneficial and beautiful. Someone women have shared that they regret not immediately breastfeeding out of fear of the pain and challenge it might bring.
6Too Many People, Too Little Time
Everyone wants to meet your new baby. One of the first things you may find yourself doing once labor gets moving is having your partner or designated person making the calls and sending out the texts letting people know that in just a few short (or long) hours a new baby will be here.
After you have a baby you are going to be inundated with request to come visit you in the hospital and offers to just drop in and bring a pan of lasagna. Inevitably they will end up staying much longer than you anticipate.
As hard as it may be to stop people from coming over or inviting your girlfriends to come see you and the baby resist the urge as much as you can. You can never get those first hours and days back. Those first days should be reserved for dealing with the down their mess, learning to breastfeed and getting as much sleep as you can. Don’t focus on having to entertain guest or make sure your house is clean for drop-in visits. Just focus on your baby.
5Pushing The Mom Identity
For TV Mom’s right after they push their baby out and they feel the weight of that 7-pound baby on their chest it seems like magic overtakes them and they instantly become MOM and there is an instant connection between mother and child. But in real life, it might actually not be like that for you.
And that is OK.
You might think that as soon as you have a baby you are going to instantly know how to soothe her and what her varying cries mean and provide what she needs before she realizes she needs it. And you may also not feel like you’re her Mom yet. To you, there may be a disconnect. Please recognize these feelings as normal and don’t make yourself feel guilty for something you don’t have control over. In time you will know how to care for your baby and before you know it that connection that seems effortless for TV Mom’s will happen for you.
4The Panic Attack
We know by now that babies do not come with an instruction manual. Like where would you even put it? What does it expel itself before the placenta? Maybe mine is still stuck up there.
But until we figure out how to get the baby factory to write a handbook for every single baby we are stuck on our own navigating the wild wild west of babyhood.
If you are a first time parent’s things like baby spit up and baby vomit can be very confusing. Which one is normal? When do I call the doctor? Every single fever that your baby has is not a chance to wake your pediatrician up at 2 AM.
As much as you may want to freak out at every little hiccup and grimace resist the urge, my friends.
3Dad Is Out On The Back Burner
The first year of marriage they say is the hardest followed closely behind by the first year of being a parent. When a baby arrives priorities shift for everyone involved. There isn’t time to just sit and binge on Netflix with your partner or dash off on weekend excursions. You have to work on the needs and demands of another little person and when you do that one or both people in a marriage can be left feeling neglected.
It’s important that you remember during those first weeks as a new parent that you have to be just as diligent at connecting with your spouse like you did when you were first together. Date nights will certainly look different and be few but that doesn’t mean you still can’t make meaningful connections with your husband. Look for every opportunity even if it’s just washing the bottle and folding laundry as a way to connect.
2Where's Your Village?
The first few months of being a new mom can be incredibly isolating and lonely. And those are great combinations for PPD to set in. The first few days you will probably have too many visitors, but eventually, that will taper off and people will go back to their regular life. Leaving you home alone with a baby and a remote.
Even if you don’t want to venture out into the world just yet you can use this time to build some friendships with other moms with babies your age. Connecting with pregnant buddies from your breastfeeding or childbirth classes are great. And there are many local groups on Facebook that have birth clubs. Once you are feeling comfortable going out seek out this other Mommy’s. Their friendships, advice, and shoulders to cry (or fall asleep) on will be indispensable to you as a new mom.
1Golden Rules: Be Kind
All of this advice can really be boiled down to one simple phrase “be kind to you.” There is a plethora of emotions, body changes, priority shifts and things to learn that will start to happen during that first month of being a mom. As women, it’s in our nature to be hard on ourselves and push ourselves to the extreme and potentially past our limits. We want to do everything and be everything to everyone and we have to recognize that during this precious time we just can’t do that.
We can’t beat our selves up because the laundry is piling up or because you’ve become such close personal friends with the pizza delivery boy that he’s invited you to his graduation. We have to give ourselves and our bodies time to adjust to the new normal. Sit back, relax, take help when offered and sleep when you can. And remember that if the baby is still alive, well, you’re doing an excellent job!
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