Becoming a new mother is a life-changing experience that is difficult to prepare for. You don’t really know what it’s like until you’re fully in it. However, there are some things I’ve learned along the way that I would love to share with you! Here are 15 things that I wish I had known as a new mother, coming from the mom of a toddler.
You can’t really plan your birth experience.
Lots of books and websites will tell you to have a birth plan ready. However, this is something that almost never goes according to plan. Your birth experience might be absolutely beautiful and go exactly as you planned, or you may need to have a c-section, an epidural, or other medications administered. There is no shame in how you give birth – be flexible and trust your doctors and midwives!
It takes time to heal.
It took 9 months to grow your baby, so it will take time to heal your body as well. Birth can be a very traumatic experience on the body – both mentally and physically. Be patient and take time to rest. Embrace your stretch marks and new squishy tummy. It could take weeks, and even months, to feel normal again.
Always trust your gut instinct.
Everyone will give you advice, but you don’t have to listen to it all. Some will be helpful, but every baby is different. The most important thing is getting to know your baby and trusting your gut instinct. That thing they call the “maternal instinct” is real, and you will know deep down the right thing to do for your child.
Motherhood can be very isolating.
Your partner will go back to work, visits will become less and less, and your friends without children might not understand what you’re going through. You may also be held back from the anxiety of leaving the house with a new baby. It all can be very overwhelming and isolating. Just know that every mom knows exactly how you feel – join a local mom group, go for a stroller walk with baby, or just simply ask for some much-needed company.
It’s okay if your house is a mess for a while.
When you have a baby, life revolves around that new human. Many things like doing the dishes, laundry, and vacuuming will take the backseat to your new mom’s duties. Be at peace with the chaos and accept what you’re able to accomplish in a day. Everything will fall into place eventually and your home will get back to normal soon.
Always get the baby clothes with zippers.
Nothing is more annoying than having to fasten all of those snaps on baby pajamas during those middle-of-the-night diaper changes. Make your life a little easier and get pajamas that simply zip.
Every baby is unique.
Every baby is completely different. Some babies sleep a lot, and some babies don’t. Some babies breastfeed, and some babies don’t. Some babies take a pacifier, and some babies don’t. Be prepared to go with whatever preferences your baby has, and try not to compare your baby to everyone else’s.
The way you feed your baby doesn’t matter.
Breastfeeding is a lot harder than you may think. It seems like it would be the most natural thing in the world, but sometimes it’s a real struggle, and other times, babies don’t breastfeed at all. Never feel guilty for having to supplement with formula, or even to just formula feed completely. Good moms breastfeed and good moms formula feed. Fed is best.
Ask for help.
Accepting help doesn’t make you a failure, so never be afraid to ask for it. In those early days of motherhood, it’s easy to quickly become burnt out and overwhelmed. As they say, it takes a village. Ask for help with chores around the house, making meals, or just giving yourself some time while someone else holds the baby.
Stock up your freezer with meals.
The last thing on your mind is going to be “what’s for dinner?” There is simply not a lot of free time, and making a meal plan and grocery shopping go out the window. A warm homemade meal can be one of the most comforting things at this time though. Ask for meals from friends and family, and stock up your freezer in the months leading up to birth. You will be so thankful to have one less thing to plan and think about.
Take care of yourself too.
Take at least 30 minutes a day to take care of yourself – take a walk, take a shower, drink coffee, check your emails. If you’re by yourself, plop your baby in a lounger or rocker (within view) just to give yourself some time to do your make-up (even if you’re not going anywhere!) Taking time to do something for yourself is so important in the midst of this newborn phase.
Wear your baby.
This advice isn’t necessarily for everyone, but if you and your baby like it, wear your baby. Skin-to-skin contact is great for establishing that bond and it’s usually a guaranteed way to get your baby to sleep. Not to mention, you’re able to be hands-free to get other things done, such as eating with two hands or taking a trip to the store.
Avoid the comparison trap.
With social media so prevalent in our lives, it’s easy to compare our motherhood journey to others. You can look at other babies and wonder why yours isn’t gaining weight as fast or why your friend is breastfeeding successfully, and you’re not. Again, every baby is different and every motherhood journey is different. Focus on yourself and your baby, knowing that your experience is perfect – no matter what.
Don’t stress about milestones.
Just because your baby doesn’t meet a milestone until two months later doesn’t necessarily mean anything is wrong. Your baby will not go to high school with a pacifier or be in diapers in college. They will learn to hit those milestones when they’re ready. Try not to push your little ones through each stage. They will get there.
Nothing lasts forever.
This is the truest thing I have found about being a parent. Every stage is exactly that – a stage. Some stages are really challenging and you’ll think that they’ll last forever, like will you ever get to sleep through the night again? But you will. One day, they won’t need you as much as they need you right now, which is both happy and sad. Try to remember to have some perspective and enjoy the stage you’re in.
What other advice do you have? Share with us in the comments.
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