We see it and hear about it all the time... the moment you meet your new child, it's the best moment of your life and love erupts in your heart. Then we see the cute photos on instagram and facebook about how amazing life is with a newborn. It can make many mama's to be excited but also anxious. While a joyous time of life, I am here to talk about the things you don't always hear before having your sweet little one. Taboo topics, if you will, with motherhood. I just had my first child and I am sharing 13 things every new mom needs to hear that I wish I would've known going into motherhood. I believe they will help you get rid of guilt and be encouraged to do motherhood YOUR way.
This blog is long and not meant to make you anxious, but instead meant to be new mom advice and help you be aware and prepared that you are not alone if you come to experience any of the below.
- Regardless of what movies and social media portray, you actually may not have the in love feelings at first for your baby.
You have been growing this precious little one in your belly for 9 months and have been waiting in excitement to meet your baby! You may experience those in love feelings for your baby right away, but you also may not... and that is okay... you are not a bad person.
You will just have given birth. You are in shock and overwhelmed (and probably already sleep deprived!), and you may not feel those feelings of love you expected to feel quite yet. Add on having to all of a sudden nurse this new human, change dirty diapers AND they may keep you up all night... those feelings may take time. It doesn't mean you are a bad person and it certainly doesn't mean you don't love your child. It means adjustment is happening and let grace give way to you and your new addition. Those in love feelings are there within you and will be felt on the surface sooner than you know.
2. You may have "scary" or regretful thoughts when you first have your child.
Beyond not feeling those lovey dovey feelings at first, you may actually find yourself thinking things you never thought you would think. I, myself, thought to myself "what the heck did I do?", "maybe motherhood isn't for me", "can I return this thing?"... I have even heard mothers have thoughts about wanting to yell at the baby or even shake the baby when they are fussy and nothing seems to calm them down... now would they actually do something?? No. Yet, in those first moments of becoming a mother, your hormones and emotions are everywhere... add being sleep deprived and recovering from this life altering event... you may have certain thoughts you wish you never thought and you regret.
Talk to your doctor and your support system of mothers and know that, most likely, those thoughts are the outcome of everything happening in your body and not actually what you feel or want. I remember crying and confessing to the nurse and my mom thoughts I was having and to my surprise... completely normal. Now, if you are having these feelings after some time with the baby, PLEASE contact your doctor and seek out your support system with your baby.
3. The nurse can take your baby to the nursery in order for you and your partner to get some sleep... take it.
One thing I regret is not taking advantage of this. In your first couple days, like I said, you will be in shock after the life altering event and completely exhausted. While you want to be with your baby and desire to jump right in to this motherhood thing... you need time to recover and my advice? Take the help while it's there who can take really good care of your baby when you are not present.
ALSO! I learned that the second night with the baby is often the hardest. The nurse explained to me that it's the baby recognizing it is no longer in the womb so he/she will want to nurse a lot and may be fussy because it wants to be comforted. So again, having the nurses help during the hardest night will be super nice- so take advantage of it!
4. You will probably experience some sort of anxiety and/or negative emotions the first couple weeks at home with baby.
I was never told about this but experienced what my mom called the witching hour. It's when I would start feeling anxiety at a certain time of the day. Being sleep deprived and having my normal routine being flipped completely sideways made me anxious and often times sad in the first couple weeks. The good news? You get the hang of everything super fast and soon you even get used to functioning on limited sleep. The first two weeks were the most difficult, by far.
5. Your routines wildly change, and you may feel "prisoner" to your nursing chair.
This was one thing I didn't realize would affect my schedule immensely becoming a new mom. Between nursing every 2 hours (lasting anywhere from 30-60 min) and then pumping after (usually 25 minutes), I felt slave to my chair because most of my time was spent expressing milk from my boobs. The extra 30-40 minutes I had in between that would be spent eating, peeing or manning the baby. Being a new mom, it was extremely overwhelming and I felt SO unsexy. Again, you get the hang of everything pretty fast and you start nursing/pumping on a schedule that works for you and your baby-- instead of what your baby apps say.
I currently nurse on demand (every 2-3 hours) and pump anywhere from 3-6 times a day(vs the 8-12 I was told to do). It all depends on our schedule. Some moms choose not to pump until they go back to work, which is totally fine! It's just another way to help your milk supply build and allow you to start a stash of milk for when you will need it. You should do whatever works best for you- no matter what!
6. Breastfeeding is natural, but not easy.
I know there are a lot of blogs and articles out there with different opinions on breast feeding vs formula feeding. I didn't know what to expect when it came to breast-feeding but one thing I know now is why some women can't breast feed, let go of breast feeding and/or why women will mix breast feeding with bottle feeding. IT IS HARD! Yes, it's natural, but it's painful and sometimes your supply doesn't come in. Some women get infections or have problems with latching. There are a plethora of reasons why women do not breast feed so if you choose not to, do not be guilt ridden. Many babies are formula fed and turn out just as bright and healthy as those who were breast fed :)
7. Your baby may sleep all day and party all night.
I have mentioned sleep deprivation quite a bit already, so this one may seem redundant. I thought it was still worth mentioning because one thing I didn't realize was how long of a stretch my baby would stay up at night. Some nights, he would be up from 2am to 8am! Add fussiness to that and you have a mama about to go insane.
My advice? Hit the hay early if you can and let your partner stay up a little later with the baby so when the night time party starts, you will have a few hours of sleep on your belt to endure what could be a hard night. We started sleep training right away, but our son didn't catch on to our bed time routine/ sleeping through most of the night until around 7 weeks.
If you have a baby that ends up being a good sleeper you will still need to wake up every couple hours to feed him/her. So make sure to rest when you can, mama, and do not feel bad that rest because a big priority for you!
8. You and your partner's relationship may feel transactional instead of physical and emotional like it used to be.
I anticipated this as the birth of our baby approached but I have heard of couple's who didn't realize how much their relationship would change. First, your world now revolves around this baby. Second, both your freedom is limited because of the baby and third, you both will parent differently at times. Those three things can cause frustration. My husband and I definitely felt it . T
here were times we had to step back and have a deep communication session, and there were other times we just had to push through, and although frustrating, not take our frustrations out on each other. There were times I wanted to flip out on my husband because he wasn't doing enough of something... but I kept my mouth shut to let grace give way. After a day, I forgot what I was even frustrated about! That has been my experience, but for whatever your experience is... keep the communication lines open and leverage family members to get the quality time you both need :)
9. Co- sleeping may be the only way your baby will fall asleep.
You hear time after time how co- sleeping is a big no no because of the risk of SIDS. As a new mom, it was engrained in my head that co- sleeping was strictly forbidden. So, when we got home and found the only way my baby would sleep a lot of times was on me or next to me, I was an anxious mess. I felt like a terrible mother and was in constant fear of hurting my baby or my baby dying. I quickly found that although recommended in the US to not co sleep, there are many cultures that promote co sleeping and there are millions of babies who grow up just fine. So, just like everything else, I found a balance.
I was as a safe as I could be, but also compromised so that both the baby and I could sleep. It ended up being that my boy would sleep on my chest for an hour or two and then I would put him in his rock and play because he would only sleep in that. Eventually, I felt comfortable enough to let him lay beside me for a couple hours in the morning after nursing.
Now, he is well acclimated in a bassinet and I still allow him to lay next to me in the early mornings because frankly, I love it and so does he. We have a king size bed so there is plenty of room and we also have an in bed bassinet for when we have hard nights and he wants to be extra close to us.
Being as safe as possible while co-sleeping is a must- but I found it unrealistic to completely negate co-sleeping as an option with my first born. So, mama, do not feel bad if you end up co-sleeping. Just take necessary precautions and trust your instincts.
10. Your body will probably look different than those Instagram mom pics you see of the stretch mark-less mamas. Embrace it.
We all have experienced the comparison game at one point or another. When I saw all these mamas stretch mark free after having babies and on top of that, bouncing right back-- it made me feel so horrible and insecure. I was a woman who got stretch marks everywhere-- my stomach, thighs, butt and even arms! I swelled so much during my pregnancy that the stretch marks were inevitable.
Now that I have had baby, my stomach looks wrinkly, I have a "fupa" and I look back on my photos of a flat smooth stomach and want to cry sometimes. And then I see other women who are back in their bikinis and it makes me see why so many women get plastic surgery and photoshop their photos-- how can you not want that when it seems everyone around you seem to have it so much better!?
Well, even though I think we will always deal with this at some level as women, I hope we can all encourage each other to embrace our bodies knowing it did an amazing thing.. no matter how it looks. Come to find that 90% of women get stretch marks during pregnancy. So you are not alone!
11. Let go of your expectations of goals and priorities during maternity leave.
If you are anything like me, you had a bunch or goals for when you are on maternity leave. For me? I was going to go on a vacation, work more on my side hustle and workout everyday. PSHH! Was I in for a treat! The first 4-6 weeks of motherhood, I didn't get to the above (or even close to it) and it was hard doing even one once I felt I was getting the hang of things.
A baby requires a lot of attention and you will find yourself wanting a break when you can get it. Like I have said before, give yourself grace and try to let go of expectations. Enjoy the new season with your baby and spend all the time you can cuddling the little one before heading back to work or before they don't want those cuddles anymore!
12. Take tons of pics and videos... you will be shocked at what you forget.
With all the above, you are going to be one busy mama and taking out your camera to snap a pic or video may not be top of mind. Try to do it and make a note to take one picture or video a day. They grow so fast and learn so many new things on a daily basis, it's impossible to remember everything that they learn or do... unless you have it captured! I try to take one photo a day at least (it end ups being like a hundred) and I store it on my phone and also an app called FamilyAlbum.
It allows myself and all my family/friends to upload photos of the littles to one place and then I can make photo books out of each album! It's awesome and it allows me to always have a place to go down memory lane. I cry looking back at old photos... they grow so fast! It helps me re-live those moments and remember to cherish the moments I have with them everyday.
13. No matter how you feel, you are a great mom.
The fact that you read this blog in the first place shows you want to be the best mom you can be. Motherhood is a journey and there will be good and bad days. Mom guilt is real and to be honest, I don't think the best advice in the world will prevent it. But know, without a doubt, you are made for this. Every baby is different, so motherhood can't be a cookie cutter experience. There is no perfect manual. So follow your instincts, TRUST them, and give yourself grace everyday. Your baby will love you unconditionally no matter what- so what if you skipped a bath for couple days. You are the most beautiful woman in the world to them and there's nothing you can do that will change that.
I hope this helped give you a little encouragement and peace of mind for your journey. I also hope you feel more freedom in doing motherhood YOUR way... uniquely and boldly. You got this, mama.