Pregnancy means soon-to-be moms spend 9 months growing a little baby and who knows how long in labour bringing that baby into the world. It would be nice to think that after all that the hard part was in the rearview mirror. Sadly, that isn’t the case.
Now there is a newborn to love and take care of. And with a newborn comes two things for new moms—lots of time to think and lots of things to worry about.
It can be overwhelming, exhausting, confusing and, well, sometimes a bit embarrassing. There are a lot of questions that new moms might prefer to keep to themselves, even if they need the answers. But here’s the thing, it’s better to feel a little silly than to miss out on much-needed information. There is so much that moms need to know and they shouldn't be afraid to just ask. But moms are an opinionated bunch, and most are afraid they'll be judged for asking the wrong questions.
So I rounded up the top 20 questions that new moms grapple with to make sure moms can get the answers to their (not-so) embarrassing questions.
19 When Will I Start To Feel Like Myself Again?
For 9 months, pregnant women feel almost like incubators. Their main purpose is to grow another human and every decision they make is made for that little human. Gone are the things you once considered normal—sushi dates, hair colourist appointments, unlimited coffee refills, drinks with dinner, high-heeled shoes, a good night’s sleep.
When the 9 months are up and the baby arrives on the scene, well, then the baby is on the scene. While you might be able to indulge in your regular highlights and a few glasses of wine, you’re still tied so closely to your baby. Whether you’re attached to a pump, skipping showers or still missing sleep, odds are you still don’t feel like yourself.
Here’s the big secret, the reason moms are afraid to ask this question—you never really become yourself again.
You become a new you, the mom you. You’ll pick up all your normal things, but there will be nightly feedings, dirty diapers and a little baby to care for. It will be a big change, but as cliche, as it sounds, it’s worth it.
18 Is Breastfeeding Really The Key To Bouncing Back?
There are contradictory opinions on whether or not breastfeeding will help you drop the baby weight. If you ask Gisele Bündchen she will tell you that breastfeeding really helped her keep her figure. “'I’m proud that my waist came back so fast. I'm proud of that and happy, but that was mostly from the breastfeeding,” Beyoncé told the world.
The truth is breastfeeding does burn approximately 850 extra calories a day. But burning calories is a give and take. Most women become extremely hungry and quickly replace those calories. And a lot of time, in their sleep-deprived state, they turn to what they crave—complex carbs.
First things first, don’t put too much pressure on yourself.
Work on eating healthy when you can and getting back into some moderate exercise when you’re cleared by your doctor.
17 Do I Really Need To Sterilize A Pacifier If It Falls On The Ground?
It happens a million times a day. You put a pacifier in your baby’s mouth only to have them spit it out right onto the floor. If you’re at home it’s easy enough to clean it off in the sink. But if you are out and about, the baby is crying and there is no way to clean the pacifier, what do you do?
In a perfect world, you would wash it with soap and water and sterilize it overnight. But as most new moms know, we aren’t living in a perfect world.
So can you pop a pacifier in your mouth before handing it back to your baby? It really depends who you ask. Pediatrician Esther Krych, M.D, says no way: "A human's mouth is the germiest one on the planet—even worse than a dog's!"
But scientist Jack Gilbert thinks differently. If the pacifier falls on the floor, it might actually be beneficial to pop it back into baby’s mouth.
“It’s actually going to stimulate their immune system. Their immune system’s going to become stronger because of it.”
16 How Many Shades Of Green, Brown, And Black Does The Mess Come In?
The possibilities are endless really when it comes to baby poop. But there are 5 distinct colours that a baby’s poop can take, but only one of which you need to worry about. So here’s the breakdown.
If your baby has orange, yellow or brown poop, don’t worry. This is completely normal for breast- and bottle-fed babies. Any colour in this range is nothing to worry about and it is completely normal for babies to have different coloured poops, even on the same day.
It might be a bit shocking to see a green-tinged poop in your baby’s diaper, but there’s nothing to worry about. This can start to happen around 4 to 6 months when baby starts eating solids, especially if those solids include spinach, avocado and other green foods.
White baby droppings in the diaper is something to worry about.
This means that baby might not be digesting food properly and you should make an appointment to see your pediatrician as soon as possible.
15 What Do I Do With The Umbilical Cord?
For 9 months, the umbilical cord was a lifeline between you and your baby. Once out in the real world, the umbilical cord no longer has the same life-giving power, but it is still something you need to care about.
It takes anywhere from 10 to 20 days after birth for the umbilical cord to fall off.
Until it actually does fall off, you need to keep it clean. Try to keep the umbilical cord clean and dry during those 10-20 days. Avoid bathtubs and submerging the umbilical cord.
As it starts to get crusty and/or fall off, you need to make sure you keep it clean. A few times a day, use a small amount of rubbing alcohol on a cotton pad and let it dry completely afterwards. If it becomes red or starts to smell, it’s time to see the pediatrician.
14 How Many diaper Changes Are Too Many?
Changing diapers is, for a lot of people, a right of passage into parenthood. Whether you’re going the cloth diaper route or the disposable diaper route, odds are it will only take you three or four days to become a diapering pro.
So here are the stats: newborn babies can go through anywhere between 10 to 12 diapers per day in the first month.
It breaks down to 4 to 6 wet diapers and 3 to 4 poopy diapers a day. The good news? As the baby gets older, the diaper count will decrease to about 8 to 10 diapers a day.
Remember, you should be checking your baby’s diaper every 2 to 3 hours. Newborn babies pee approximately 20 times a day. Leaving your baby in a wet diaper for too long will make them uncomfortable, fussy and may cause diaper rash.
13 Does My Baby Even Know Who I Am?
It can be a big fear for some new moms, especially for those who are planning to head back to work sooner rather than later. Will my baby know who I am? Will they remember me if I’m gone for most of the day?
Your baby will use their senses to get to know you.
And the good news is, thanks to the sense of hearing, your baby recognizes the sound of your voice before he or she is even born. Around seven months gestation, your baby knows you by the sound of your voice.
Don’t skip out on skin-on-skin time, as this is the time when your baby comes to know and even love your smell. It’s been shown that the smell of a mother skin can actually relax their baby.
With the sense of sight, your baby will even know your face within one week. So rest assured, your baby recognizes you from day one.
12 When Will I Stop Leaking?
Picture this: you’re sitting at lunch with family enjoying being back out in the real world with your new baby by your side. Everything is going well when all of a sudden your shirt starts to feel wet. You look down and find that you’ve leaked milk right through your cute nursing top.
It’s not an ideal situation, but it’s completely normal and it’s actually a good sign.
Leaking milk means that your body isn’t having any issues keeping up with your baby’s supply needs.
But how long can you expect to need to bring an extra shirt or keep a stash of nursing pads in your purse everywhere you go? It’s different for every woman, but you can expect to leak the most during your first few weeks of breastfeeding. The first 6 to 10 weeks of breastfeeding will most likely be accompanied by leakage. But for some moms, the leaking persists for the entire time they are breastfeeding.
11 For How Long Is “Personal Time” Off The Table?
After you’ve given birth, spending “quality time” with your partner might not be the first thing on your mind. And that is okay. But when you are in the mood, do you know when it’s okay to take the plunge?
The average recommendation from doctors and midwives is about 4 to 6 weeks after giving birth. You are still working on healing and you shouldn’t rush your body. There are some extenuating factors. If you have stitches from a c-section, a perineal tear or an episiotomy you will need to wait 6+ weeks and get the all clear from your doctor before getting close.
Remember that even after waiting the recommended amount of time, you may still be tender in that region.
So take it slow, easy and don’t set any expectations for yourself. It may take you longer to get back in the saddle then you might expect.
10 Is It Supposed To Hurt When I Breastfeed?
Breastfeeding is not always an easy road. For some moms, it’s a breeze but for others, it can seem like an extreme struggle. A lot of women experience pain when breastfeeding and we’ve been told that this is normal.
But according to lactation specialist Deedee Franke, this is not the case.
We think that it’s normal to feel pain until they toughen up, but that’s not true.
It all comes down to the latch and positioning.
“Most of the time, women who experience nipple and breast pain can resolve the problem with a little help and guidance with basic positioning and latch. It's important that a new mother gets an experienced person (like a board-certified lactation consultant) if the basic latch and positioning doesn't correct the pain.”
9 Am I A Terrible Mom If I Formula Feed?
No! Did you hear that? I can say it again for you one more time just to be sure: NOOOO!!!! Formula feeding your baby does not, I repeat, does not make you a bad mom. It’s no surprise that moms who don’t breastfeed tend to feel extremely guilty.
“Breast is best” is pumping into pregnant woman's’ ears from the day she finds out she is pregnant and even before. But in reality, fed is best, plain and simple.
Breastfeeding is not right for every woman.
For many different reasons a mother might not be able to breastfed and others make the choice not to. There are many benefits to formula feeding, including the nutritional benefits your baby receives and the fact that your partner gets to have an equal hand in feeding your baby.
8 How Long Is Too Long To Let My Baby Cry?
The Cry It Out (CIO) sleep training method has a lot of supporters as well as a lot of dissenters. While some swear it is the best way to get your baby to self-soothe and into a good sleep pattern, others say it is neglectful to leave a baby crying for too long.
From birth to 3 months, a baby’s cries should be answered promptly. At this age, you are still learning to understand your baby’s cries and they are still crying for a reason. As they get older, you’ll better understand your baby’s cries and you’ll be able to know when they are just fussing or if they need something.
Allowing your baby to cry for 15-20 minutes when you are putting them down to sleep will not be detrimental to their well being and may actually help them get in a pattern of sleeping better at night.
The CIO method isn’t for everyone, but it won’t have a negative effect on your baby.
7 Does My Baby Dislike Me?
If you’re dealing with a colicky or extremely fussy baby, it can be overwhelming. When it feels as though your baby is always crying, you’re sleep deprived and at the end of your rope, it isn’t a stretch to start thinking that maybe, just maybe, your baby might hate you.
To set the record straight, no, your baby does not hate you.
But if you are feeling like you aren’t bonding with your baby, try to make time each day for activities that will help you and baby bond. Try to get a bit of extra skin-to-skin time with your baby or read to your baby as often as you can.
And remember that if your baby is crying, it’s nothing personal and not a reflection on you as a mother.
6 Am I A Bad Mom If I Let My Baby Watch Television?
Ahh, screen time, one of the many issues that moms need to consider. Will they let their kids watch television or will they limit screen time? When your baby is young, is it problematic to have the television on in the background while your baby enjoys tummy time?
The American Academy of Pediatrics says that they “discourage” TV for children under age 2. But this is another choice that you need to make for yourself.
If you are letting your baby watch television, focus on educational programs such as Super Why, Dora the Explorer and Little Einsteins. And remember, sometimes turning the television on for thirty minutes or an hour so you can take a minute for yourself is the lesser of two negatives—if you can even consider watching a bit of television an “negative”.
5 Will I Ever Know What My Baby’s Cries Mean?
The life of a new mom would be so much easier if babies could talk from day one. Is the baby crying because they need to fed? Or are they just sleepy? Maybe wet? The good news is that there aren’t a lot of reasons for a baby to cry.
According to an Australian mom with a photographic memory, Priscilla Dunstan, there are five different cries that your baby will exhibit. The “neh” sound which means baby is hungry. The “owh” cry comes from the yawn reflex and means that baby is sleepy. If you hear a “heh” sound, the baby is uncomfortable. They may be cold, itchy or need a diaper change. The “eair” sound means the baby has a bit of gas. Finally, the “eh” sound means that baby is ready for a burp.
As you get to know your little one, you will start to be able to recognize what each of your baby’s individual cries means.
4 What Will The Baby Actually Remember From Their First Year?
Despite what you might assume, babies will actually remember a lot from their first year of life. The reason so many of us don’t think that a baby can remember is actually that these early memories aren’t consciously accessed.
And while the memories of our days in diapers are more subconscious, some scientists believe that that they may be the memories that have the greatest impact on their lives.
As a baby grows and changes, these early memories do fade.
It’s all part of growing up. And the fact that these memories are formed before we have a complete grasp on language is another reason why these early memories tend to shift and fade.
The first year of your baby’s life is formative, so make sure you get lots of cuddle and quality time with your little one!
3 Is The Delivery Room, Post-Birth, Too Early For My First Drink?
It’s been months—months—since you’ve tasted a full-bodied glass of red, a hoppy bottle of suds or your favourite cold one. So after enduring whatever it takes to get baby into the world, it’s no wonder that one of the first things on a lot of new moms' minds is “where’s the nearest bar”.
Sadly, it’s not as simple as having the baby and grabbing a Corona. If you aren’t planning to breastfeed, you're cleared to drink right after labour. But if you are planning to breastfeed there are a few things you need to consider.
Drinking while breastfeeding is not recommended as it can cause your baby to drink less milk. But there are ways to nurse safely while drinking. Start off by limiting your intake to 2 ounces of liquor. And after drinking you need to wait for the alcohol to leave your system. Alternatively, you can pump and dump, although the idea of throwing away milk might be too much for you to stomach.
2 Can I Actually Use A Little Something To Soothe Sore Gums?
Ah, old wive's tales. They’ve given us some of our best parenting advice. From only letting babies sleep at night to not being able to get pregnant while you’re breastfeeding, most of these old wive's tales have been debunked and dismissed.
While our grandparents may have sworn by it, using Jack to soothe a baby’s sore gums is not a good idea.
It may seem like a small amount of alcohol to us, but think about the size of a baby. In relation to the baby’s body, even a few drops of alcohol can be harmful. The alcohol can actually slow down a baby’s growth and cause serious developmental problems and defects.
When your baby is in pain from teething, try using a cold, wet washcloth to give their gums a massage. You can also put any of their teething toys into the freezer before giving it to them to chew on.
1 It Gets Easier… Right?
When you’re faced with a fragile, tiny, crying newborn and an acute lack of sleep, it can seem like motherhood is a never-ending uphill battle. It begs the question, does it ever get any easier?
As a baby progresses and grows, you may find it gets easier. Or for you, the newborn phase may end up being the easiest part of your journey to motherhood. But here’s the thing—it gets better. Your baby will learn to talk, to interact with you and it will be so rewarding.
You will start to sleep through the night (even if that doesn’t happen for a few years). You’ll get to watch as your little one goes off to kindergarten, then primary school, followed by high school and before you know it, college. So enjoy the newborn phase while you can, even though it may seem like one of the hardest things you’ve ever faced. And remember, it’s all worth it!