Bringing baby home from the hospital can be one of the most wonderful feelings in the world, especially if it's the first baby. There is this tiny little creature in mom's arms that cries a lot and now it's up to mom to figure out what it needs, around the clock. For the first three months, this can be daunting, but this is something that every mom feels and is simply maternal instincts kicking in. Mom's life has changed dramatically. It's just going to take a bit of getting used to, just like it did for every other mom in the history of motherhood. That doesn't mean that mom can't look at some tried, tested and true advice.
Lots of people are going to try and get in there and tell new moms how they did it, but how they did it doesn't work for everyone. What works for a family is a very individual thing and it takes trying different things to find a fit. No, things are never going to go back to the way they were. The party days are over and the ball gowns may be in storage for some time to come. Leggings may be the new normal and spending time on the floor is a new reality but that too is okay. This new reality is only a reality for a very short time. These are precious days, albeit sometimes very difficult. Enjoy them for they are like precious pearls from the heavens.
20 Baby Is #1!
Lots of moms to be think that they are going to be themselves just with a baby after they give birth but having a baby is an absolute life/identity altering experience. At that, though lots of people joke about “mommy brain” in the way that a postpartum woman becomes forgetful of everything else but her baby after she gives birth, there may actually be some science to this. According to a new study featured in nature.com, by Leiden University shows how various regions of the brain become altered during pregnancy.
One of the major things noted was that there was a loss of grey matter in areas associated with cognition, relating to emotional intelligence. While the article sited that these changes in the brain need to be need to be more thoroughly investigated, it really could explain how the you that you once knew is no longer on a biological level. While the neurological rewiring may be a little unexpected, it is really, really okay because this has happened so that you will respond to the needs of your baby and your brain will go back to where it was in a few years, according to the study. So, let it go.
Accepting that the change is taking place is essential to your survival and your baby’s, and accepting that your life isn’t all about you anymore is a big part of that change.
It’s the cycle of life; you are now part of it. Rejoice
19 Go With Baby’s Flow, Not Yours
While previous generations kept infants on a rigid schedule with formula, changing and down for a nap, any first time mother realizes quickly that it’s the newborn who decides when it wants to sleep, get changed and eat and not the other way around. Sure, you can try to rock baby to sleep or nurse them once an hour or so but they will let you know what they want or not.
Newborns cry and sometimes it’s a matter of trying each of the things that they may want to make them happy or satiated out before getting them back to sleep.
It can be very, very frustrating at times and that is why a lot of other mom’s these days will recommend that mommy naps when baby naps and works around baby’s needs. The newborn phase where they need to be taken care of every hour and a half to two hours is brief, maybe three months tops before they really start sleeping for a bit longer and so it’s just a matter of getting through it until life can resume a more regular course.
18 Put The Phone Down!
The smartphones of today have become like adult pacifiers. People are on them constantly to the point that the words “cell phone addiction” are tossed around very casually. It is easy to scroll through social media while baby is crying or just sitting on your lap but this is time where a mommy should be looking right at her newborn, bonding, examining facial expressions to try and determine what is happening with the baby.
It is during this time when baby will first smile and that reoccurring look will emerge right before baby spits up all over the place.
Mothers can learn from their babies by watching them and during the first three months and it is really important that they pay attention because this is a time where the infant can be quite fussy.
It is really important to pay attention so that the baby gets what it needs when it needs it. Social media can wait; this baby won’t be that tiny every again.
17 Set Limits With Work
While some women are lucky enough to get the whole year off, others find themselves going back just three months after giving birth. At that, during those three months, depending on the job, there are sometimes going to be calls from the office on how to do this or that aspect of how you carry out your job. The reality is, however, you may get a call when baby has just fallen asleep and you have been up for twelve hours and you need a nap. Life with a newborn is all about survival. The reality is that your nap is more important to your baby than that phone call.
For as much as you may be tempted, sometimes you have to once again take a deep breath, remember you are no longer who you used to be and do what is better for your family than what is best for your boss.
You can always answer them later and say sorry, we were asleep. Don’t be afraid to set limits with them. As a parent you are always going to need to set limits with your employers because when you don’t, it will often be your child that pays the price, with you missing everything from that first step to that first soccer goal. Remember what is most precious in life.
16 Watch What You Are Eating If You Are Breastfeeding
While some babies can just go with anything you want to eat and they can cope with a bit of mild gas from the broccoli you ate here and there, there are other babies that just won’t have it! Just because you like to go out for Mexican or Szechwan that doesn’t necessarily mean that baby is going to be able to digest all of the fat, salt, spice and sweet that you are having.
At the same time, nursing isn't a time to start going heavy on high energy beverages and then hitting the gym, as some of those kinds of drinks can be full of chemicals and are just not suitable for breastfeeding.
Just like when you were pregnant, while it seems like eating half a container of ice cream could be a good idea because you are burning extra calories by breast feeding, that doesn’t necessarily make it a good choice. Your nutrition is their nutrition so; choose what you eat wisely! And, if you are uncertain, there are good resources available to let you know what you need.
15 Find The Source Of That "Colic"
Lots of breastfeeding moms complain that their babies just won’t stop crying because they seem “colic-y.” Were you to take that complaint to a pediatrician however, the doctor would say that the term isn’t even used anymore. If a baby is crying non-stop except when they sleep and is having a hard time with eating, it is possible that it is something that is in your diet. This is something that can be addressed by a pediatrician and by no means is it a reason to stop breastfeeding.
It could be that baby is simply not digesting dairy products well or that baby is intolerant to the soy products in your diet or, because an infant’s intestines are so unbelievably tiny, there may be issues with baby processing some of the raw vegetables in your diet.
Whatever the case may be; this is something to be discussed with their pediatrician and determined through their advice.
Chances are that baby will grow out of this phase within the first three months anyway because their intestines will have developed a little bit more and their digestion will become easier.
14 Never Mind What You Are Wearing, Start Baby Carrying!
While being pregnant may already have been not the most glamorous period of your life, so too is your post natal life. Your tiny infant wants to be as close as possible to your to hear your heart beat, smell your body and feel your skin as it is all a comfort to them and the best way to do this is by putting them in a baby carrier and going about your daily life with them strapped to you.
Whether you go with Baby Bjorn, Ergo Baby or a wrap, being a new mom really isn’t a period in your life that gets to be devoted to you being a fashionista in designer clothes and lots of accessories, particularly around your neck. Ruffles and frills can wait as can beads and baubles; this is a time for maternity shirts and comfort wear with a little one strapped to you. They are your fashion statement; it’s called being a new mom, you will be wearing spit up, you are going to be tired, your body is going to be going through some awkwardness. Fashion can wait, baby can’t!
13 Try And Get Outside A Little Bit Each Day
While it’s really important to try and sleep as much as you can, getting out for a brief walk once a day to get some Vitamin D and just a bit of exercise to ease your own stress can be very, very helpful. Perhaps not so much during the first week while you are still recovering from the birth but as soon as you feel well enough, a brief walk can be very helpful. Sure, you are tired and you definitely need your rest but resurfacing to see the outside world is good for you too.
Use nap time as exercise time even if you don’t feel like it just to get a bit of dopamine going is good for your brain. Especially if baby doesn't want to go down for a morning or afternoon nap after you have fed them and changed them and covered all of their other bases, a walk to get them to sleep in the stroller or carrier can be just the ticket. Getting some fresh air and some exercise, even if you have barely slept, will reduce stress levels and give you some much needed stress relief.
12 Baby's New Exercise Routine
Make sure to put “tummy time” on your new daily agenda, instead of daily abs! Well, you can do the “daily abs,” while baby is asleep but this is their version of it as it is very important for them developmentally. Within the first few weeks of a newborn’s life, moms can start putting babies down on their belly to help them to start to develop their head, neck and upper body strength.
Don’t expect baby to miraculously take to this the first time as you are likely to get a large wail of baby thinking ‘what is going on?’ Newborns don’t always take to new things all that easily. This also allows a bit of time to help baby press out a little bit of gas that may have been bothering them. Initially this should only happen for one to two minutes at a time and if baby hates it stop immediately. Giving it a try once a day however is worth doing as with every day baby’s strength will develop and it will help gas pass which is never a bad thing.
11 Keep drinks Off The Menu
Stay away from the alcohol if you are breastfeeding because you never know when that breast will be needed. While previously it was said that a glass of wine while pregnant was permissible, the new recommendations now say that no amount of alcohol is recommended as safe because it is simply too hard to quantify. With breastfeeding you need to wait a certain amount of hours, depending on how much alcohol you have consumed to be able to breastfeed again and you may have to express and dump in the meantime so not to get too swollen.
While you can store up enough breast milk through pumping if you have a special event you want or have to go to, when you have a newborn, breastfeeding really is your baby’s greatest source of comfort. Sometimes having that drink ends up not being all that worth it because the crying baby that wants to nurse wants the whole experience of nursing from mommy and doesn’t handle it as well as an older baby would. That and the combination of one drink and fatigue may just give you a headache and a screaming baby.
10 Accepting Help When It Is Offered To You
Whether you were just really independent before or were just the kind of person who liked to be able to show the world that you could do it all, if your neighbour offers to watch the baby while you shower, say “yes, please!” Being a new mom or a mom with a new addition can be so unbelievably overwhelming because you are in constant demand.
At that, the list of demands on you is endless and so if someone offers you a casserole, an hour of their time, some help cleaning or folding the laundry while you nurse the baby, by all means say yes! Time with a newborn is no time to be proud, it’s time to invite in that village into your home because, if they say that it really does take a “village” to raise a child, the beginning is a good time to get acquainted.
9 Go With Your Gut or Real Medical Advice
Trust your own instincts instead of the advice being hurtled at you by everyone but your doctor or doula. Life as a first time mommy can be really disorienting and it can be hard to become confident in being a mom. It seems that every single person you have ever met or just that random stranger in the grocery store who is being a lookey-loo with your new baby has some child rearing advice for you.
“Put a touch of brandy on your finger and rub it into the baby’s gums,” or “feed them every four hours or you will spoil them” are among the pieces of once very trusted, even doctor recommended advice of the 1950s or 60s but times have changed and so has child rearing. You are the one that is closest to your baby and you understand your baby’s rhythms, don’t let the world intimidate you into taking their weird advice just because they seem more confident about what you should be doing with your baby than you do. You are the mom, don’t go with anything outside of the medical advice you have been given and your own instincts.
8 Do What Works Best For Your Family
However, when your baby wants something, go with what you think is best as long as your medical professional is okay with it. Breastfeeding isn’t for everyone and there is no shame in that. Some women simply can’t produce the milk supply necessary to feed their babies no matter what they do. Some women can produce the milk but then have issues with their ducts and end up not being able to breast feed or for whatever other reason have to go with formula. If a family has to go with formula, that is ok.
Some women nurse and co-sleep with their babies because they feel comfortable with that choice and that is fine but everyone sleeping separately is fine too. Each family makes their own choices about what works for them based on everything from culture to comfort levels to values like being environmentally friendly. It’s all about what you can handle and what you can’t. Shame isn’t part of this equation and anyone who tries to tell you otherwise you can smile and nod with and then go about your business. It’s your choice, you are the parent.
7 Don’t Try And Work From Home With A Newborn
Put your career down for a few months, you are entitled to time with your newborn. We all want to be everything but the reality is that we can’t be everything all the time. Your baby needs you as a new born, give them the priority, that is why you have been given a maternity leave. When in doubt, if you find yourself unable to cope and the even though you said while you were pregnant you would try to do a few things remotely, just delegate.
It really is quite literally impossible to do a good job at any job if you have been up all night with a baby and you are just trying to manage through that and then you donate the tiny snippets of time you do get to take care of yourself to working instead of caring for yourself. This is one of those scenarios where that whole old adage of ‘you can’t pour from an empty cup’ applies. Delegate whatever you can’t do at work to other employees if you can and whatever else to your partner on the home front if you can as you are the one up all night with feedings; it is up to the rest of the world to take care of you while you care for your infant right now.
6 Drop It If It Doesn't Work For You
If something isn’t working for you, don’t keep pushing no matter how much other parties insist. Some babies don’t like pacifiers, some don’t like those Bumbo chairs (which aren’t even considered safe anymore), and some don’t like baby swings of certain varieties. Even though your friend who gave you the swing insists that it will work and get your kid to sleep, if it isn’t working for you, put it in a corner and just stop talking about it.
Lots of people who have already had kids feel like they are experts on kids and they are; “experts on their own kids,” but it doesn’t mean their solutions will work for you. You know your baby best, you have had trial and error time with your baby, you have spent time getting to know your newborn and getting to understand all of his or her facial expressions or ways of expressing hunger or fatigue and so trust your gut! Your instincts are there for a reason! And, when in doubt, consult the medical advice given to you.
5 Eat For Health, Not For Glamour
Don’t prioritize your weight loss over getting enough nutrients to breastfeed. Sure, everyone wants their body back after a baby and understandably so. Pregnancy is one of those times in a women’s life where some women let the calorie counter be done away with just so long as they know they are getting all their nutrients. Things like, carbs, ice cream and all sorts of childhood memory comfort foods as well as things to appease the weird cravings end up in the grocery cart instead of the usual balanced diet geared at keeping in shape and in the same clothes size.
While the average pregnancy weight gain is approximately 30 pounds, some gain more than that and are anxious to fit back into their pre baby clothes. While a new study shows that women who are obese can cut calories while pregnant for the health of their child, for women who gained during pregnancy and are breastfeeding, a healthy diet is still very necessary. However, sometimes it can be tricky to get that weight off. While going a breastfeeding mother should not be hitting the protein shakes and working out at home every minute they can while baby sleeps, overall health should be the focus. Whole, natural foods that are nutrient rich are ideal. Walking with baby is good exercise, taking it easy is best. Your baby is only going to be a newborn for a short time. Your waistline can wait.
4 Finding A New Scene
Adapting socially is another tricky one for some new moms as there are some women have that core group of friends that went to college together, all had weddings around the same time and then all had kids around the same time so everyone is all on the same page. Good for them! That doesn’t always happen to everybody however. Some have social circles that are all about academic or career oriented pursuits, some area all about world travelling, some people like to go out to restaurants and night clubs a lot.
If you are in a social circle where your besties are all about doing things that are not really conducive to family life, you may suddenly find yourself a little isolated. Never fear; there are plenty of new moms out there going through exactly what you are going through right now and they are finding each other at mommy cafes, mommy and me groups and at local parks walking with their babies and pushing their strollers. While you can try and go back to your old lifestyle occasionally, if it’s not family friendly, it’s not the same and that is ok. You are a new you now and you can find people that are on the same page as you to talk about going through all of the same things you are going through and you will totally feel comfortable with them. As time passes we all change and so do are lives. It’s all ok. Embrace it!
3 Finding Flex-Time
When you have a baby sometimes its going to mean adapting your job so that there is a bit of flex time, even if it means doing with less. When you do go back to work, whether your baby is three months, six months or a year, both you and your partner are still not going to be able to work a 40-60 hour works with a baby unless you have a three figure salary and can hire a full time nanny. Working it out so that you can get time to take a sick baby to the doctor or stay home because the daycare called and you need to pick them up is essential because there is no other way around it unless you have help.
The reality is that babies get sick, they have to go to doctors’ appointments and you too are going to get sick because the baby will give you its viruses and you will be living off of less sleep. A life with a baby and then a toddler and then a preschooler requires that you move your hours around sometimes. Depending on what you do, cutting back the amount of hours you work may be necessary for a year or two or moving those hours around because babies will keep you up all night. Same thing with toddlers, they get sick at daycare and you are back at the doctor. Best start looking at wiggle room and if maybe family can help when baby is sick.
2 Finding Different Ways To Unwind
While you used to go for girls night out at the pub to dish and lay it all out with the gals over drinks, with a new born, this is not the kind of stress reliever strategy that might be ideal for you. Do you really want to be pumping breast milk in a bar bathroom? This doesn’t mean that you still can’t go out and relax with your gal pals; it just means that you have to plan differently? Instead of a club, hit a spa?
Don’t want to be around a late-night atmosphere, meet them for lunch or at that, have them come by for coffee and a chat. When you have a newborn, the type of partying you will be doing will usually involve cake and balloons and that is totally fine. Life has geared down for the time being and those that are good friends will gear down too to hang out with you. It’s almost like a real test of true friendship; you really do get to whose friendships you have that are flexible and which ones aren’t.
1 What Family Life Really Looks Like
Another reality that comes along with having a newborn is accepting that it all can’t look perfect all the time and that is okay. Life with a newborn is rough. You become severely sleep deprived, sometimes you end up not being able to take a shower for a few days and start feeling really gross. Dishes pile up, home gets messy because you are tired and still trying to recover from the birth and are trying to adapt to a new life. Then there is what is going on with you physically as some women go through a huge hormone crash after the birth and end up crying a lot or feeling very depressed for a few days.
All sorts of things are going on; suddenly there is a tiny little fragile person in your hands and Oh My Stars! You are in charge of caring for this teeny-tiny person. The first week or even the first month can be incredibly overwhelming and that is why it is really, really important to accept that no, no it can’t look perfect all the time. At that for the most part, it’s not going to look perfect most of the time. The reality is that it looking perfect really, really doesn’t matter. Life with a newborn is all about surviving those first three months where you don’t really sleep a lot, you are adapting to a whole new segment of life and a new identity for yourself and you are going to need support from friends and family. You are now a family. Congratulations! It’s never perfect and that is okay.