Ready or not, your baby is coming! As a new mom, there will be a lot of uncertainty (and possibly tons of unanticipated guilt!): ‘Am I doing this right?’ ‘Is my baby eating too often? Not often enough?’ ‘Are they sleeping enough? Pooping enough?’ ‘Is the poop supposed to be that color?’ At times, you may think you are doing it all wrong. Even with the plethora of information available to new moms, I would be willing to bet that a few tips will elude you. Here are some practical insights nobody told me that I wish I had known as a brand-new mommy.
1. "Got milk?" Don’t hesitate to call the lactation consultant if you have any questions about nursing because they are there for you (and your milk ducts). Nursing doesn’t come naturally to every woman. Like most things in life, you fare far better with a little instruction, so don’t be afraid to ask. “When I was in the hospital, I asked every nurse that came in my room for advice. Was I doing it right? Is the baby latched on correctly? Did they have any suggestions? They all offered great advice, each from their own experience. I left the hospital with a little more confidence about nursing,” says Lisa Banks, mother of two.
2. Doctor, doctor. If you have health concerns about your baby, don’t feel uncomfortable calling the paediatrician or advice nurse. Trust your instincts and call; it’s better to err on the side of caution. Always call the doctor if your baby develops a rash or a very high fever.
3. Heavy lifting. Don’t lift anything heavier than your baby for the first month after delivery. Your body has been through a lot and needs some serious pampering, and maybe even a bit of damage control. Also, as soon as the doctor gives the okay, start doing those Kegel exercises.
Sherrie Palm, Founder and CEO of the Association for Pelvic Organ Prolapse Support (APOPS) says, “The PC muscle (pelvic floor muscle) is the primary source of support for the pelvic organs and much damage can occur to it during childbirth. Women do not realize they should be contracting their PC muscles before they pick up their children and that any heavy lifting can create pelvic floor muscle problems, particularly if done too soon after childbirth.”
4. Aah, spa day! Take a shower - every day! You’ll feel better, have more energy, and definitely smell better. Before you have a baby, you might think it’s absurd that you would need to be reminded to shower. But after baby, you might want to appoint a few people to remind you to take care of such things, so you can take care of you.
5. Help me help you. If someone offers their help (bringing dinner over, doing your laundry, holding the baby while you shower or sleep), let them! Put the ‘I can do it all myself’ attitude on hold for this short time and get used to asking people to help you. You’ll need to do it often over the next, oh, 18 years or so.
6. Don’t take it personally. After you have a baby, everyone you meet will offer advice. Don’t take their suggestions personally. You’re not doing anything wrong! Mothers love to dispense helpful information. After all, they’ve been there as well, at one time or another. Use what works for you and toss out the rest.
7. Hush little mama. “Sleep when the baby sleeps. Who cares about the cleaning and the laundry, take a nap while the baby sleeps. You’ll thank yourself for it,” says Krystal Luster, mother of two.
8. Oh, the drama. Face it, your hormones are on a wild roller coaster ride right now. The same hormones that conspired to get you pregnant are now working overtime adjusting to your new postpartum life. You will cry for seemingly no reason, you will laugh, you might be overwhelmed and maybe even a little blue and all within a 10-minute timespan. Don’t be alarmed, these are your hormones talking. They are helping to produce milk and get your body back to normal. Be kind to yourself. This will pass. Of course, if the baby blues persist, consult your doctor.
9. Ask and you shall receive. This is not the time to hint or hope that your partner understands your wants and needs. If you need your partner to do something, ask. Make sure your partner is involved with the baby. Let them change diapers, get the baby to sleep, give a bottle, entertain, etc. Sure, they may not doing it the way you would (or even correctly for that matter - the diaper goes the other way and the onesie is on backwards). Let them do their own thing with the baby; this is their time to bond. All of you will be happier, more relaxed, and your partner might just surprise you and become capable with the baby, so you can have some much-needed alone time.
Remember, whatever you do for this baby is the right choice because it’s out of love and because you’re the mommy. Keep in mind that every day will get easier. Trust your instincts and be gentle with your hormonal self.
Cassi is a freelance writer. She lives with her two wild boys and her sweet husband. In her spare time, she writes children’s stories.
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