The following 10 things first time moms should know are meant to help ease your transition into motherhood.
Motherhood comes with so many expectations which often don’t match the reality of it all. Being aware of the challenges that come with being first time moms is essential in order to allow ourselves room for error and for self-compassion.
These 10 things first time moms should know are based on research, and on my personal experience as a mom of three.
1. Your pregnancy and birth experiences matter a lot
Having complications during your pregnancy, or having a negative birthing experience can prevent you from instantly bonding with your baby. It also makes the new mother experience less enjoyable, and it increases your risk of developing postpartum depression.
Tip: Don’t blame yourself for any negative outcome. The formation and birth of a human is highly complex. Things can go wrong even if you do everything by the book.
2. Breastfeeding is amazing, but hard
No amount of reading or training can prepare you for the actual experience of breastfeeding, but I will try to be as precise as possible in my description. Breastfeeding is such a rewarding experience if you produce milk, and if you can live through the extreme pain of the first couple of weeks. Be prepared to see your breasts expand to many times their actual size, and feel like they could burst at any moment. Your nipples will be sore, and will likely bleed until your baby learns to latch correctly, so use a lot of lanolin nipple cream.
Tip: Use a breast pump to express some milk if you produce more than your baby needs. It will help relieve some of the engorgement pain.
3. The baby must-have list is much shorter
When I had my first baby I bought every possible item that claimed to make being a new mom easier. By my third, baby I realized that my list of must-haves for a new mom and baby was much shorter than my first.
Tip: Must-haves: Car seat, crib (if you’re not co-sleeping), pacifiers, breast pump, muslin wraps, baby blankets, onesies, a play gym, teething toys and other age appropriate toys, baby bathtub, some hooded towels, baby nail clipper, basic nose sucker, a bouncer, baby carrier or wrap, a stroller, lots of diapers and wipes. Nice to have: baby monitor, Boppy pillow, Dockatot lounger and white noise device.
4. Lack of sleep is more than physical exhaustion
You probably know that babies wake up every two to three hours to be fed and changed. And, if you are part of the pack with not-so-easy-to-soothe babies, you might spend most of your time between feeds trying to comfort your baby and keep him/her asleep until the next feed. The reality is, you will be sleep deprived regardless of how fussy your baby is. Among other things, sleep deprivation leads to irritability, anxiety, forgetfulness, increased errors, lack of energy, and symptoms of depression.
Tip: Don’t worry about creating a sleep schedule for the first 3 months. Feed on demand and co-sleep if you’re comfortable with the idea. It will make your life so much easier. In addition, remind yourself often that the newborn stage won’t last forever. You will be able to sleep eight hours a night again.
5. Don’t take the “baby blues” lightly
“Baby blues” leave you feeling impatient, irritable, moody and emotional. They usually peak around four to five days after the birth of your child, and should disappear within fourteen days. However, if symptoms persist, speak to your doctor as it could be an indication of postpartum depression.
Tip: Be vigilant and track the duration of your “baby blues”. Talk to loved ones about your feelings and have other adults around as often as possible during this time.
6. Social support is crucial
When I had my first baby it was just me and my husband. We had no family or friends around and it was very difficult. And because my daughter was born prematurely we were advised not to take her to public places for six weeks due to a weakened immune system. It’s needless to say how lonely and isolating those six weeks were.
Tip: If you have no family or friends around have a postpartum plan for socializing. Nowadays there are a lot of resources available for new moms. Try to connect with other mothers through social media groups and local events.
7. Read as much as you can about motherhood
Becoming a mother for the first time is such a wonderful experience that we often forget the hardships that come with it. Therefore, it is very important to be aware of the changes and struggles that come with motherhood as well.
Tip: You can learn so much from reading other moms’ stories and tips on motherhood. There is so much information like this on the web.
8. You might hate being a mother before you love it
My experience as a first time mom was definitely not what I had expected it to be before giving birth. I expected to euphorically give birth to my child, instantly fall in love with her, and get through all the challenges of being a new mom because of the unconditional love I had for her. Instead, I was terrified of giving birth and questioned if I’d even wanted to be a mother. Also, due to pregnancy complications, my baby ended up staying in the NICU for ten days while I had to go home without her and pump every three hours. In the meantime, the “baby blues” hit and I felt like the most inadequate mother in the world. Then, I developed postpartum depression. Long story short, I did not love being a mother for the first year of my daughter’s life.
Tip: Have a support system in place before giving birth. Talk about your negative feelings with your care provider to rule out postpartum depression. Give yourself time to fall in love with your child.
9. Newborn stage is the easiest
Do you know the saying “Little kids little problems, big kids big problems”? My oldest child is now eight years old and I can assure you that, unless you are dealing with health issues, this saying stands true for everything else. I will take sleepless nights over sassy talk-back and school drama any day. I don’t even want to think about the teenage years.
Tip: Remind yourself that, while it may feel like sleepless nights will never end, they actually do. In the future, you will find yourself longing for these moments.
10. Everything is just a phase
The diaper blowouts, spit-ups, middle-of-the-night walks, colic, teething and temper tantrums are all just normal phases of a child’s life. And they will be gone one day. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself missing these difficult phases one day.
Tip: Savour every stage of motherhood. Deal with every phase as best as you can and let go of guilt, you’ll never do things perfectly as a parent.
I truly hope that the 10 things first time moms should know I shared here will make being a new mother a smoother ride for you.
What are some of the lessons you learned as a first time mom? Do you have any tips to share? Please write them in the comment section below.
This article was originally published at Inspo Place.