My Transition to Motherhood – Some Background
When you’re pregnant, people give you all sorts of advice. Do this, don’t do this. Some of it is helpful, some of it isn’t. I don’t really mind this sort of advice since most people tend to have good intentions and I enjoy the different perspectives. I just filter it all – knowing I’ll keep some and not all of it.
That said, I operate best with clear expectations. During pregnancy, I soaked up all sorts of blog posts, books, and conversations (and a class at the hospital) about pregnancy symptoms, labor & delivery, the hospital stay, etc. I had heard so many labor stories from friends (both good and bad) that I felt like I had a pretty good idea of what to expect and different things that could happen while I was in the hospital.
And fortunately, my labor process was pretty simple and we happily welcomed a healthy baby boy. Our hospital stay was awesome. Of course I was sore and exhausted. But, I was surrounded by friends, family, our son, and a whole team of nurses and experts reassuring me that I was doing a great job and that my baby was healthy.
Then two days later we wrapped up our little bundle of joy and took him home. That was when the fun really began. And I realized the one thing that I hadn’t thought about before giving birth – what it would be like at home. That brings me to the one thing I wish someone would have told me bluntly during all those labor and delivery talks:
There is no instruction manual for being a mom. It doesn’t matter how many babies you’ve held or how many books you’ve read. Every baby is different and momming is hard.
The fact is, bringing baby home can be hard and scary and exhausting. It’s just not all the cuddly and beautiful pictures floating around Instagram.
My Best Tips for New Moms
And so, here are 6 tips for new mamas to help you get through the first few weeks.
Don’t be afraid to say how you feel (and don’t feel guilty for how you feel either)
In case you missed it, pregnancy and childbirth does a number on your hormones. In the first few days of motherhood, I remember going through a whole gamut of feelings. I was overwhelmed with love for our son. I was exhausted from delivery and waking up so frequently for feedings in the middle of the night. And I was frustrated that I couldn’t remember all the things that needed to be done. Thankfully, I didn’t deal with Post-partum depression or anxiety with Little, but I know others who have. I just want to encourage you that no matter what you feel in those first few weeks, you’re not crazy. Don’t be afraid to talk about it and seek out help if you need it.
You Might Not “Miss This” (and that’s ok, too)
There’s the old cliche, “You’re going to miss this” that everyone loves to tell you when you become a new mom. Usually at the worst possible times. Like when you’re covered in spit up and on day 3 of not taking a shower. Really? Really? I’ll miss this? Maybe not.
Don’t get me wrong – there are things that I adore about the newborn stage. Hello, sweet baby snuggles. The sweet baby smell. All the tiny little clothes, the first laugh, those little gummy grins. I have bottled up all those little memories from Little’s newborn stage plus so many others. I miss those some days.
But, other parts are just not that fun. Waking up in the middle of the night covered in sweat and/or leaking milk? Don’t miss it. Going weeks without a full sleep cycle? Don’t miss it. And if I’m honest (which I am), I’m not totally looking forward to these things with Baby #2 either. And that’s totally fine. It’s good to be open and transparent and acknowledge that while we can be totally enamored with a little person and feel so thankful to be moms, it’s just not all glamorous. It’s worth it. But that doesn’t make all of it enjoyable.
Don’t Forget to Take Care of Yourself.
This is WAY easier said than done. You’ve just given birth and now you have a little one to care for. But, as your body heals, it is critical that you be aware of your own needs too. This will allow you to take the best care of your little one. Sleep whenever and wherever you can. Take a shower when you can. Stock up on healthy snacks that are easy to prepare and eat so you can best fuel your body. Drink lots of water. Go for a walk and get some fresh air. All these little things add up.
Don’t skip out on them. Leave the dishes or ask someone else to do them. But do not neglect yourself.
Keep the Essentials Close By
You don’t want to have to run all around the house trying to find things in those first few weeks. Set up a portable changing station that can move around with you to be sure you can change the baby wherever you are. I also lived in my nursing pillow those first few weeks. Like, it went EVERYWHERE with me.
You’ll also want to keep snacks and water close by for you too. Maybe even a book, your phone, chapstick, the remote. Really anything that you use often should be kept nearby.
It Gets Better
It gets better. Like, way better. This is the one I really needed to hear. For us, it was about three weeks of fog. And then a magical thing happens where you all start getting used to one another, your body starts to adjust and continue healing from delivery, and you just start to feel more confident in your new role. Babies grow and learn so much so quickly, and soon enough, you’ll really start to notice.
We’re All Just Winging It (aka No One Actually Has it All Together)
This one is mostly for the pep-talk in the middle of the night. It’s so important to remember that everyone is learning during this time. Your baby has spent the last nine months connected to a constant food source. Now he’s out in the world and that can be a scary place to be. When he’s hungry, he needs to find food and exert effort to get it. It’s cold out here – it’s not as snuggly and good grief – so many lights! That’s okay.
And Mama – you now have someone who is totally dependent on you. Your body just did an incredible thing and it’s healing. (It will heal, by the way. It just takes some time.) You’re tired and hungry, and probably don’t feel very much like yourself. It’s okay.
The truth is, people have been having and raising baby since the beginning, and there still isn’t one definitive guide on how to do it best. That’s because every child and every mama is so different and unique. We all have to learn our way in this new role and it will be different for you than it is for others. We all have our good days and our hard days. But, at the end of all the days, we’re all learning as we go.
It takes a village. We need one another to build us up and support us and we need to do the same for others when we can. You’ve got this, Mama. You really do.
And finally, just because you might need to hear this, too:
What advice or tips would you give to new moms? Is there anything that you wish someone had told you before becoming a mom? Any tips for adding another to the family?