I remember being 38 weeks pregnant and just wanting to be being done. I was done waddling, done testing for GD, done not being to sleep, done having to pee all the time, done with people asking me when the baby was coming...I could go on. I was more than ready (so I thought) to meet my baby. I was so excited to have her in my arms! I won’t lie, there were a few times in the first few weeks that I wished I was still pregnant so I could get some “good” sleep. So with those sleep deprived weeks in mind, here are my tips for surviving as a new mom.
1. Have breastfeeding support
Breastfeeding is natural but it is not easy. It can be hard and painful in the beginning. If you’re planning on breastfeeding, line up your breastfeeding support before your baby arrives. Attend a Le Leche League meeting, talk with your doula, your partner and whoever else will be around. If you already know where to turn for questions/support, you’ll be more likely to succeed! Two great resources for breastfeeding is Kellymom and Best for Babes. I also highly recommend Nancy Holtzman of Isis parenting. She’s great at answering questions on Twitter!
It’s also a good idea to stock up on lanolin and the gel cooling pads as they will help your sore, tender nipples feel better. If you have trouble once the baby is here, don’t hesitate to ask for help, especially from an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant. You CAN reach for breastfeeding goal! Again, don’t hesitate to reach out for help or for encouragement! You don’t need to mommy alone!
2. Your job is to take care of the baby
During the first 4-6 weeks, your job is to take care of the baby. Don’t worry about cooking, doing dishes or laundry or any other chores. Focus on the baby! It’s ok if it feels like all you do is sit on your butt and feed the baby. That’s your job Mama! By not trying to do all those other things, you’ll feel less stressed and will be able to enjoy this time more. If people are coming by, they are coming to see you and the baby, not your house. Seriously, don’t stress about chores!
3. Sleep when you can
I know people say sleep when the baby sleeps and while that works sometimes, I know it doesn’t always. If you can have someone watch the baby so you can sleep, do it! 3-4 hours of solid sleep will make most things better, I promise! Don’t forget to shower too! A shower can make you feel human again. So sleep plus a shower will make you super Mama!
4. Go with your gut
Trust your instinct Mama. Even though you’re a new mom, you still know what is best for your baby. Don’t give up if you feel like something is truly wrong, keep pushing. YOU are your baby’s advocate! Even if you feel like you’re overreacting, ask anyway! Doctors are used to it and it will put your mind at ease!
5. Feel free to ignore unasked for advice…and even some of the asked for advice too!
You probably noticed that everybody and their brother likes to give you advice when you’re pregnant. It doesn’t stop once the baby arrives. Feel free to let it go in one ear and out the other. Or listen and try it but if it doesn’t work for you, stop doing it. There’s no need to keep doing something that isn’t working and just causing you more stress!
6. Figure out what works for you and DO IT!
When you do figure out what works for you and your family, do it! For us it was co-sleeping. I heard so much against it but it works for us. So that’s what we do. When it stops working for us we’ll try something different. Don’t be afraid of doing something different from your mommy friends!
You probably got lots of great things from your baby shower(s) too. You might not use it all and that’s ok! For me it was the Itzbeen timer. I had several friends who loved it and I tried to use it, I really did. I just didn’t need it. So it sat, lonely and unused. It’s also ok if your baby doesn’t wear all the clothes in each size. Babies grow fast!
7. Accept help
If you have people offer to help, ACCEPT IT! People want to help (many have been where you now are) and it will make your life easier. Swallow your pride and STOP thinking that YOU have to do it all. You don’t! Let people help by bringing you a meal, vacuuming your house, loading your dishwasher or doing a load of laundry (they aren’t going to be bothered by washing your underwear, I promise!)
8. Let Dad be Dad
By that I mean, let dad do stuff with the baby too! If you’re breastfeeding he can’t feed the baby but he can change diapers, change clothes and do skin to skin. And please, please, please don’t correct everything he does! He’s new at this too and it’s going to take some time for him to get used to doing baby things. However, there is more than one way to change a diaper or give the baby a bath. Let him figure out his way to do it, even if you think your way is better.
I know it’s hard to enjoy every moment, and really, you can’t. It’s hard to enjoy the screaming baby or the vomit. But when you can just stop and breathe in. Inhale that newborn baby scent and snuggle in close. Revel in the newness of life.
10. Nothing lasts forever
The first 12 weeks are the hardest. Life will get easier. There is light at the end of the tunnel. You can do this Mama.
As a new mom, you have so much joy ahead of you. Each stage has the good and bad but each is full of joy. Motherhood isn’t a sprint, it’s a very, very long marathon. Enjoy each stage and don’t forget to ask for help when you need it.
One more thing Mama….hold that baby as much as you want, you’re not going to spoil them!
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