Mom Advice Corner

An open letter to mothers to be and new moms from a first time mom.

Dear you,

when you got pregnant, you no doubt got a lot of advice from many people. I did too. That advice is invaluable as motherhood is learned not innate. Here is a collection of the most helpful advice I got as well as some key things I learned along the way. I’m only a few months in and still learning everyday how to be a mom.  Congratulations on your new little human. It’s an experience unlike any other.

  1. Kiss your baby. Being a new mom is not all roses and rainbows. You will have some moments when all you want to do is sleep and it seems like all the baby wants to do is eat or cry. You will get frustrated. You will feel at the end of your rope. You may even yell or cry or simply want to walk away. Those feelings are all normal. You are sleep deprived and growing a human. Before you go to pick up your child, make the resolution to kiss your baby. Let that be the first communication between you and your child. It is impossible to stay frustrated or sad or angry after a kiss with your sweet baby. Kiss that little head until the world melts away. It will sustain you until you can get sleep again.
  2. You may not have an instant love connection. That’s ok. You are not a bad mom. It may take a while for your heart to unravel what just happened to your body. The love may come quietly, in the night, when you hold your child weeks after you give birth. It is also OK to love your partner more than your child.
  3. Sleep when you can. This one is very important but difficult to implement. I had what I would call baby insomnia. I would be exhausted when my baby was awake but as soon as my baby closed his eyes, I would get a rush of energy. All my hormones wanted to do was stare at my sleeping child. I had to have my mother-in-law come and hold the baby in order to sleep the first few nights in the hospital. She’s a saint by the way. I learned to just lay there with my eyes closed and after a couple of weeks I was able to sleep when he slept.
  4. Get help. Lots of help. I am a pretty self-sufficient person so this one was also difficult to implement. I would use my baby’s naps to clean and the house get organized. That was not sustainable. Call on family to do the dishes and laundry. Call on friends to cook for you. Have neighbors help you with groceries. When one of your friends has their first baby, you will see how easy it is to return the favor. You may not be able to repay those that help you now but you will be able to paid forward.
  5. Try everything until you get what works for you. Every mom has the one thing that was awesome for her. But that may not work for you. So don’t be afraid to toss aside the carrier that your best friend gave you and go and buy a new model. There is a lot of trial and error and when it’s right for you and your baby, you will now. This can get expensive of course, so getting things secondhand from friends and family to try is a good idea. Goodwill has the best toys for cheap!
  6. Breastfeeding is hard. It is not innate. Your baby is learning to feed and you are learning how to feed it. There is a steep learning curve. Get a lactation consultant as early as possible. They are so helpful! Use lanolin. Every time. Get a Milksaver and freeze the extra milk. It will come in handy. Massage your breast in the shower. Do not worry about losing milk – you are making plenty. Mastitis is evil – not every woman gets it. But if you have a fever and you are breast feeding, call your doc ASAP. Ask for a milk culture so you can get the right antibiotic. Poke Root tincture is a life saver. And if breastfeeding does not work out, it OK. We are blessed to have formula. Use it. Do not feel guilty.
  7. Getting the baby out. WOW. Our bodies are amazing. My birth was calm and med free. But sometimes your body or baby has other ideas. There is a different birth for every baby being born. Try to keep an open mind and surround yourself with positive, happy people while in labor. You will need the support. The Guide to Childbirth by Ina May and The Birth Partner are essential reads.
  8. Pictures. Take lots – not hard to do with smart-phones. You will be sleep deprived and your memory will be less than stellar. The pictures are great to look back at. I love the app Lifecake – it allows you to store your images and share them with family in one place.
  9. Maternity leave. TAKE EVERY SINGLE DAY! Some of us have better deals than others. But the struggle is real, y’all! Your body is recovering, you are learning how to live with a new extra limb (the baby) and adjusting to the hormonal storm inside of you. You will need time, more time than you imagine. So do not feel pressured to go back to work to prove anything.
  10. Smartphones apps are a lifesaver. Get the amazon app and spring for a prime account. You’ll be surprised how much ordering with one click can save your sanity! Join an online community or Facebook group. It is so helpful to be able to ask other moms questions and the cyber community means there is always someone there to answer, even during 3 am feeds. Get the Wonderweeks app. It will help you understand your baby’s leaps and developments. Babysparks has great exercises and activities that help your baby’s’ development.
  11. Ask your partner for help but also be understanding. A baby is like inviting another person into your partnership. A drunk, loud, rude, demanding person. Your partner will most likely be on the outside looking in for the first 3 years. It is hard and can be isolating for a couple. Remember that you are both learning how to be parents. You are both evolving into new beings. The journey is so worth it. You will see your partner grow and love them more than you could possibly think possible. But you will also be frustrated and feel misunderstood. Make sure to give space for dialogue. For our family, walking the dog with the baby was a perfect time to reflect, talk and process our new lives. Make the time for those moments. They will feed your partnership.
  12. Hold on tight. This will be the ride of your life. And when the big dip happens, scream like hell and let go of the safety bar. You will plunge into unimaginable love, hope and joy. Welcome to motherhood!

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