What advice would you give a new mother?
What do you wish you would have known going into parenting?
I posed these questions to my Facebook friends and got some great wisdom from lovely, strong mothers.
I’m excited to share their responses with you along with some tidbits from me.
1. Read up and do your research.
” I wish I would have done more research before getting pregnant, because I have come to find out that doctors and midwives are both so very different and equally able to deliver babies. My deliveries between my two babies are night and day. So I would say, research what will be best for you! If you decide doctor and hospital are the best route, great! If you decide that midwife and birthing center or delivering at home are best, great! Do not feel pressured by others how you should labor and birth your baby, you were given everything you need by our Heavenly Father in order to bring a baby into this world, trust him. If you are LDS, do NOT hesitate to ask you priesthood holder to give you a blessing multiple times before you have your baby and after because sometimes you just need the comfort to know you are doing okay.” -Erika Hales Torres
Becoming a mother is no small thing! It’s the most monumental moment of your life! It’s a huge ordeal for your body, mind and soul, as well as your spouse’s! There’s A LOT of new things to learn about: conception, pregnancy, delivery methods, doctors v. midwives, birthing plans, newborn care, recovery, baby blues, parenting styles (such as attachment parenting v. babywise) , breastfeeding v. formula, immunizations, relationship transition and the like. Although it sounds overwhelming, take it one subject at a time and borrow some books from the library and at least do some light reading. Knowledge truly is power. You will feel so much more confident as a new mother when you know what to generally expect from healthy babies/ mothers and what complications could also occur. You will be less stressed out because you won’t be so worried about what you don’t know. Becoming a mother is a vulnerable journey of maturing and learning and when you make informed decisions for your child, it gives you more independence and confidence than you can imagine. It is liberating to be able to stand up for what you want to do and explain what you think is best for your child.
2.Be united and embrace whatever comes.
“I wish I would’ve realized that everyone’s experiences are different. I thought I did, but then when things happened (holding baby for the first time) I thought about how other people described these moments to me and expected more from the moment I was having. It doesn’t matter how other people felt when they first see their baby… what matters is how you feel and that you’re committed to forming a relationship with your baby. I also wish I would’ve known more about postpartum depression and that it is more common than people think it is. It doesn’t mean your a bad mom or wife, it just happens. And sometimes it can take a while to go away. I’m being completely honest when I say I did NOT enjoy the newborn stage… my hormones mixed with a creature who wanted to nurse ALL THE TIME and lack of sleep didn’t help. But I got through it, and I hope that I get to do it again, someday.” -Carli Neugebauer
“I had high expectations of how my labor, delivery and new baby would be. I had high expectations for myself as a new mother. I had a plan, and aside from having a perfect pregnancy the night I went into labor it all went down hill. Expect the unexpected and embrace it.”- Melissa Guerrero
Having a baby is not just a huge transition for the moms, its a big deal for the dads too! Be sure to talk with each other about your feelings before and after the birth. Make decisions on the above mentioned topics together. Be united. Also, be forgiving. This experience is new for both of you so don’t create expectations for each other. You’ll save yourself a lot of disappointment! Because everyone handles new babies differently and that is totally okay. There’s no “right way” to act. We all just do our best. Be sure that both of you are aware of different side effects of the new transition such as baby blues, daddy feeling resentful toward mom and baby, feeling left out, feeling overwhelmed, etc. If you expect these things to happen, it will not surprise you if they do, and you will feel less judgmental of your spouse and will have more understanding towards them. Although having a baby is a beautiful joyous event, it’s ok to struggle and let each other know it. Talk about everything you are feeling, good and bad.
3.Relax the first few weeks and ask for help
“Explore the value of stillness. Hold your daughter, just snuggle, and exchange love, peace, trust, closeness. You would rather do that or do the dishes? Which has more value? Immediate vs. eternal. ” -Denise Wayman Scholes
“Take the help that’s offered. If it’s not offered, find it. Don’t think it’s normal or okay to go out after two days to get groceries or go to the neighborhood party. Stay home! You need the rest.” – Jalee Clarke
“Those first weeks home with baby don’t feel pressured to do ANYTHING! That little baby will only be that little for a split second. If you want to sit and cuddle that baby all day, do it! Who cares if the dishes get done or the floors cleaned, that baby needs your love and attention and your body needs time to heal and recover. And don’t be afraid to ask for help. I wish I would’ve asked my mom or someone to help on those days I just needed a little more sleep. A well rested mom is a more efficient mom!!” -Shauna Brown
I’m gonna be frank here…You just freaking grew a human being in your belly for 9 months and then you pushed it out through a small hole. Give. Yourself. A. Break. Ladies. You deserve the rest AND the help. It takes a village to transition into motherhood. Everyone needs help at the beginning. Enjoy the time that you get served by those you love.
4.Date your spouse
“Don’t forget to continue to date your spouse/significant other after the baby comes. Having a strong relationship with your spouse can help you deal with a needy baby.” -Adrienne Monson Torkildson
You created this baby through the love you have for each other and you will need that strong love for each other to be solid parents. Parenting is not easy in and you need to be able to lean on each other to get through the tough transitions. Make a dedicated effort to date your spouse after the baby comes. Whether it is at home or going out, make sacrifices to spend special, planned time together. You need to maintain and cultivate your relationship so that it doesn’t wither away due to neglect. Although your new little bundle of joy is an amazing gift, it is so rejuvenating to be alone with the love of your life. You want each other to know that you still cherish one another individually and that baby isn’t the only thing that is important. One of the best things you can do for your baby is love and take care of each other completely.
5.Time for yourself
“Make sure to take time for yourself. Like an hour a day leave the baby with Dad.” -Becky Joy Cook
Being a new mom is hard work. Its a wonderful yet overwhelming time. Don’t fall into the trap of over extending yourself. Don’t you dare have the mindset that if you need a break you are weak. Everybody needs breaks and we’ve all had our breakdowns. Be a responsible mother and recognize when you need some time alone to do your own thing, to get out of the house with the girls, or just to relax and regroup. And try to get that break before you are going to lose it. Find hobbies that you can do with baby around so you feel like you still have outlets and interests. Many moms go through a stage where they feel that they’ve lost their identity because all they do is “be a mom”. Although it is totally noble to spend all your time mothering, its healthy to keep things in your life that continue to develop your talents and personality. Also don’t ever feel bad for leaving your baby with dad! Remember that dads need some alone time with baby to bond and figure out how they and baby work things out. This process will go smoother and quicker if they do get some alone time and don’t always feel like you are watching them to be sure they are taking care of the baby “right.” Give yourself room to breathe and be away sometimes. You’ll both be better parents for it.
6.Trust your intuition
“Trust your intuition…I fully believe that Heavenly Father prepared us to be parents by giving us a divine knowledge or “gut feeling” when it comes to having children. Trust it. I wish I would have trusted my intuition more! I also wish I would have realized that it is better to be safe than sorry! I often worried that if I spoke to someone about concerns I had with my baby they would tell me I was being paranoid. There are a lot of times that others told me I was being “paranoid” when there really was something to worry about.” -Leslie Winterton
I can’t agree more with this. No one knows your baby better than you. Give yourself credit for what you feel, think and know is best for you baby. You are spiritually, emotionally, and (were) physically attached, and that really means something. Embrace the fact that moms have superpowers. Along with making milk, we can sense the needs of our babies. And that my friends, is so awesome!
7.Write things down.
“I wish I would have taken the time to write more things down. To savor the moment and to live in it. To cherish each moment (even the hard ones). To realize that it is a learning experience for everyone. No one knows everything from the beginning-including mom, dad, & baby -but together we learn and grow. There is something so special about your first one! I don’t think there is a way to prepare yourself for the way you feel after becoming a parent. The genuine love you have for your child is so strong and immense…like the love our Heavenly Father has for us.” -Leslie Winterton
“I too wish I documented things more. I wish I would’ve been better at keeping a journal through my pregnancies and births and such, there is so much going on and it’s so easy to forget all the little things.” -Shauna Brown
Keep a notebook in your purse, by your nightstand, and use a dry erase board to jot down things you want to write about later. Dedicate time to writing in your journal or blogging (while they nap or while you are nursing). The days and nights are long and you will soon forget those tender moments that touch you so deeply if you don’t write them down. Even if you don’t tell the whole story, jot down a couple phrases, or a list of things or words because that will do a great deal for your memory. I started a project called “Letters to Cora” when Cora was first born. I didn’t keep up with it consistently, but the letters I wrote to her when she was just a tiny baby, still bring tears to my eyes.
8.Don’t rush things – for baby or for you.
“I wish I would’ve had a different mentally with my first, I rushed through everything…. We hurried to get her here, we couldn’t wait for each milestone and rushed through them so we didn’t enjoy them (like when hdd first learned to sit we kept saying, well if only she could crawl! And then she would crawl and we’d say, she’ll be so much fun when she can just walk, etc.) don’t rush through it, they’ll get through each milestone faster than you think and you don’t enjoy it if you aren’t looking for them and just enjoying those small things.” -Shauna Brown
“I wish I wouldn’t have rushed so quickly back to work . I missed out on a lot of Kyler’s young life because I hurried back to work when I didn’t need to.” -Leslie Winterton
Life is too short already, live in the moment. Spend as much time with your child as possible and soak in the present moment. Because I can promise you that the sleeping on your chest, nursing by moonlight, and the gazing into your eyes will all be over too quickly. Although it gets better and better as they grow, it is different and won’t get those moments back.
9.Everybody is not the same.
“I also think a lot of first time parents just think this is how things are “supposed to be” in relation to sleeping patterns, eating, nursing, etc. There are a million different remedies or solutions for things an what works for one child or one family does not always work for another.” -Leslie Winterton
“I would say to always remember babies aren’t created equal! Just because your best friends baby slept through the night by 2 weeks doesn’t mean yours will and it most definitely doesn’t mean you are a bad parent. Don’t compare your baby and parenting to someone else.” -Shauna Brown
Every baby, mother, and father is different. Don’t compare anything to anyone or anything! Embrace the unique experience your family is having with your baby. Also feel free to share what works for you but don’t push your opinions on others and don’t judge them for their decisions. Everyone is just trying their best to be good parents in the way they know how. Oh, and please remember there is no such thing as a “good baby” or “supermom.” There are just “babies” and “moms” and they are all different.
10.Be patient with your body.
It took you 9 months to prepare your body for birth and it’s typically going to take you 9 months to fully attain pre-birth physical status. Don’t set yourself up for disappointment by expecting to fit into your regular jeans in the first couple months. And even think about being critical of your body because it is the vehicle by which new life was brought to this earth. Those stretch marks on your body are the marks of humanity, strength, and sacrifice. They should be honored instead of cringed at. Instead of worrying so much about what you look like, give yourself a break and be grateful for the fact that you were able to have a child of your own. Focus on creating healthy habits as you transition to mommyhood instead of worrying about the number on the scale. Fitness will come in time as you are consistent, dedicated, and smart about how you take care of your body. And remember not to compare yourself to other moms, because everyone has different body types and loses and gains weight differently. And in the end, as long as we are healthy, our pant size really doesn’t matter. Embrace beautiful you, in every stage you are in. Your baby needs you to love yourself so that you can be emotionally healthy enough to love them.
Good luck new moms!