I have a particular fondness for first time moms…filled to the brim with equal parts anticipation, excitement, and nervousness. Unsure of what motherhood will be all about, but knowing that life will never be the same. It’s a brief moment in time and it is SO special.
I vividly remember these feelings (after all, it was only a few short years ago that I was waitin’ on a baby!) It’s so amazing how your life can change so dramatically in such a short time. 5 years ago, I had no idea what motherhood would be all about…now I’ve been blessed with two wonderful kids and I cannot imagine life without them.
I hesitate to think of myself as a “seasoned” mom, because I’ve only been doing this motherhood thing for a few years, but with two (polar opposite) deliveries and a few years of motherhood under my belt, I’m hoping that sharing my experiences might help someone reading this!
- DELIVERY: Educate yourself on all the options available to you, but keep in mind that childbirth is one of the most unpredictable things in life. It’s a good idea to have a birth plan in place, so that your nurses and family members know your preferences, but try to go into it with an open mind. There’s a pretty good chance that things might not go quite according to plan.
- LACTATION SUPPORT: Most hospitals have an on-staff lactation consultant that will meet with you before you leave (if you are planning to breastfeed). Make sure to ask lots of questions and ask about follow up options for the coming weeks/months. I also recommend asking them about options for night nursing.
- NIGHT NURSING: Falling asleep while nursing at night is super common, due to the lack of sleep that comes with new mommyhood and the sleep inducing hormones that are released when you breastfeed. You’ll want to make sure you are set up in the safest way possible for night nursing. We recommend not using your Bellifly pillow for night nursing (or any other time where you are feeling drowsy). Recliners and couches should also be avoided. You’ll want to be in an area that is free of any risk of baby being trapped against a soft surface. For me, nursing side by side, while laying down was the best option. With both my babies, this position came naturally for both of us and I knew that if I happened to drift off there would be no risk of dropping them. I am not a medical professional or lactation consultant, so this should not be considered as professional advice; this is just my personal experience. You will definitely want to review your options with your doctor and/or lactation consultant. If you choose to night nurse in the sitting position, try to keep yourself awake…smart phones are a new mama’s best friend in the wee hours of the night! 😉
- BOTTLE-FEEDING/BREASTFEEDING: Even if you are planning to exclusively breastfeed, it is a good idea to try to teach your baby to accept a bottle, as well. It seems counter-intuitive, but in my experience this can actually help set you up for success with breastfeeding. There are bound to be times that you need a quick break from nursing and there is also likely to be a situation where you will need to leave your baby with a caregiver. Also, some babies find nursing difficult when they are cutting teeth – this was the case with both of mine. They would fuss, pull, arch their backs, all that fun stuff. As soon as I fixed a bottle for them, they would relax and be out like a light. My “mother’s intuition” philosophy on this is that since the milk comes out a little easier from a bottle, it didn’t hurt their mouths as much as nursing did. I introduced a bottle at right around two weeks with each of my babies, after making sure that nursing was well-established. I made sure to do it at a time where things were quiet with no distractions. I started out by nursing and then quickly switched to the bottle while giving lots of smiles and encouragement. It could just be dumb luck, but both babies took to it super easily this way, with no impact on our nursing relationship.
- BABYWEARING: Babywearing is seriously a lifesaver. It’s SO much easier to assimilate your baby into your normal everyday routine when you practice babywearing. Your baby will love it, you will love it…it’s a win/win for everyone. A high quality carrier is worth its weight in gold. I love Ergo for a soft structured carrier and I use my ring sling from Sleeping Baby Productions ALL.THE.TIME. Moby wraps (for the first few months) and woven wraps are also great. Bottom line; there is nothing better than having two hands free and a cozy little bundle of sweetness resting peacefully on your chest. There are a ton of babywearing groups on Facebook that you can join to ask questions and learn all about the different options available. The women in these groups are often warm and inviting. Some groups even have local chapters with lending libraries where you can borrow different types of carriers to test out which type works best for you and your baby.
- THE FOURTH TRIMESTER: For at least the first three months after birth, babies feel the most secure when they are close to you. Do NOT worry about spoiling your baby. Babies thrive on this closeness. Some babies are better at expressing this need (like my son who was SUPER high maintenance) and others are seemingly more content…but all babies are happiest when they are close during this time.
- SELF-CARE: It’s imperative that you make some time for self-care and allow yourself some down time or out of the house time. I know that’s often times easier said than done. Thankfully, it’s actually pretty easy to include your baby…for example, set up a pedicure date with a friend. Tying back to the babywearing advice, put that baby in your carrier, plop yourself in the chair, hit that back massage button and say hello to relaxation. If your baby needs to eat, no problem! That can be handled while your toes are being painted!
- CLEAR THE MECHANISM: It’s hard to be “in the moment” when you’ve got obligations and to-do lists pulling you in 100 different directions. The reality is that we all have commitments and responsibilities competing for our attention on a daily basis. But remember that it’s 100% ok to say no sometimes…and it’s also 110% ok to ask for/accept help! Recently, my father in law and niece surprised us with an inside and out cleaning of our house while we were away at work. Talk about the gift that keeps on giving! So when a friend or family member says “is there anything I can help with?” take them up on their offer! It’s amazing how a little help goes a long way in saving your sanity!
- BABY BLUES/POST-PARTUM DEPRESSION: It’s totally normal to experience a bout with the “baby blues” after delivery. After all, you’ve just gone through one of the biggest changes of your life and it will take a little while to process that! It’s an amazing time, filled with joy, but it’s also filled with hormones, new routines, visitors, and sleep deprivation. Try to get outside, go for a walk, meet up with friends. Don’t be afraid to say no to the constant stream of visitors if it’s starting to overwhelm you. Baby blues will usually dissipate within a fairly short time period. If you find that it’s not lessening, seek help from your doctor ASAP, so that he/she can help you with some coping tools and rule out the possibility of post-partum depression.
- PRACTICE GRACE: With yourself, with your partner, with family members, and with your kiddo (especially during toddlerhood). 😉 Remember that welcoming a new family member is a big adjustment for everyone. There will be times where you feel like you are nailing it and times where you feel like the biggest failure on earth. Embrace the good times. Acknowledge the difficult times, learn from them, and move on without looking back. Try not to compare yourself to others. There will always be someone who appears to have it more together than you do. Trust me, they don’t! We all put on a great front on social media, because we want to show what we’re proud of (and there’s nothing wrong with that), but our everyday realities look amazingly similar! 🙂
Welcoming a new baby into your family will be the absolute best time of your life. I hope that these few tips might help a little in allowing you to enjoy this amazing time to the fullest!