Nothing seems to ire new moms more than unsolicited advice. I have a different take on it. I listen to everyone as I never know what I may learn. However, I only apply what resonates with me. Below is what I learned during my first 3 months as a mom. Some I came up with “on my own” (really nothing in this world is original) and some I learned from others. I share in hopes that it may help you.
- Stay ahead of your hunger. The number one thing I have to explain to my patients is that your body can be hungry even when your stomach isn’t rumbling. Often times, hunger manifests as fatigue, nervousness, weakness, irritability, or lack of focus. All of this makes caring for a newborn even more difficult. Try to eat something every 3 hours or so. That way you will have the fortitude to cope with whatever baby throws you.
- Your best is the best for your baby. Nothing can shake your confidence more than caring for a newborn 24/7. There are a million advice books and blogs. Ultimately, all your baby needs is your authentic presence.
- Rome wasn’t built in a day and it didn’t fall in a day. I amended the old cliche because I found myself fretting over sometimes watching Big Love while nursing instead of “bonding” with my baby. Ok, sometimes I also may have stayed in the shower a minute longer than I should have once she started fussing. The point is, although not ideal, none of this is going to turn her into a psychopath. Nor will the moments you steal for yourself. You cannot be “on” every second and that will not destroy your child.
- Buy shirts you can nurse in. We’re talking button down, wrap style, stretchy neckline, whatever you think will work. Have them in the closet waiting for you because shopping with a newborn is terrible. Buy a variety because you will leak milk on them or baby will spit up on you. Obviously this only applies to breast feeding mamas.
- Own your crazy. We all have our own way of being that makes us feel half human. For me it is having an orderly house, a home cooked dinner, and showering daily. Therefore, instead of sleeping when the baby slept, I cleaned, showered, and cooked. That’s my crazy. I know a woman who voluntarily went back to work when her son was 8 days old. That’s her crazy. We’re both very happy with our decisions.
- Nursing “treats” are the gateway to massive weight gain. The internet is ablaze with recipes touted to increase your milk supply. Many of them are laden with fat and sugar, be weary. Lactation consultants will tell you the best way to build supply is to nurse your baby frequently and stay hydrated.
- Take pictures of yourself with your baby. I truly hope you love your body and revel in how amazing and strong it is. It made a human being! However, many women aren’t happy with their postpartum selves. Even if you never make peace with your new physique, your child will treasure seeing pictures of you two together once she is older.
- Kegels aren’t always the answer. If you are having bladder issues or pelvic pain after birth, see a physical therapist who specializes in women’s health.
- Embrace the fussies. They are a normal part of being a newborn. You do not need to give up dairy, grains, or stand on your head. Check out Purple Crying.
- Tupler Tummy. Trust me.
- Stretch often and early. Caring for a newborn will put you in some strange positions. In order to prevent back strains and pain, stretch regularly. Start this as soon as you get home from the hospital assuming your provider doesn’t object.
- The people who wrote the sleep safety rules never had children. Ok, that’s probably not true but anyone who has cared for a newborn 24/7 knows that expecting her to sleep in her crib on her back at all times from day 1 is completely unrealistic. Knowing safe ways of co-sleeping and alternatives like rockers and bouncers prior to having the baby will save you a lot of anxiety and grief.
- Take a step back. Many new parent’s experience anxiety over seemingly innocuous things. I was afraid to go out with my baby. That’s when I learned to repeatedly ask myself “What’s the worst thing that will happen?” If she is hungry, I’ll nurse her wherever we are. If she needs a new diaper, I can change her. If she melts down, we’ll go home. Whatever is causing your anxiety, step back and challenge the truth of it. CBT can be great for that, check out a brief primer here.
Oh, and by the way, you’re doing a great job!
What advice would you share with new moms? Does any of this resonate with you?
This post originally appeared on my Psychology Today blog, Beyond The Egg Timer. It is the property of Sharon P. Fisher
Photo by Gift Habeshaw on Unsplash