A cousin of mine had her first baby last week – she is precious and scrumptious. Simply perfect. It got me thinking about the advice that I would give to a new mama.
Here are the first 10 things that come to mind…
1. First and foremost, give yourself a break. You are doing your best, and that (by definition) is the best you can do. Period.
2. Trust your instincts. One of the most frustrating things I found as a new mom was that there were apparently no right answers. Everywhere I turned I got conflicting advice – it nearly drove me mad. I wanted someone to tell me what to do! The problem is, as is often the case in life, there simply are no right answers. You have to figure out what works for you, and don’t let anyone make you feel bad, or feel guilty about what you decide.
3. Hormones. Holy hormones. All I can say is, do not think you are alone with your intense mood swings. I have never cried so many times in a day, for apparently no reason at all. For both sad reasons and happy reasons. The tears flowed. Check point #1 (give yourself a break), and do your best to enjoy (or at least survive!) the roller coaster.
4. Find a new mama’s group in your area. I went to one every Monday from 12-1:30, and I would walk in feeling like a crazy person, and walk out feeling sane. I thought that I was the only one struggling, and it felt very isolating. To be able to hear other new moms experiencing the exact same crazy stuff was very comforting.
5. Use a pacifier. Screw “nipple confusion”, sometimes babies just want to suck , and your poor nipples need a break.
6. Breastfeeding – this is such a controversial topic. Yea, I think you should try it. But if it’s not working, for whatever reason, check point #1 and give yourself a break. It is difficult! No one told me quite how difficult it could be! It hurts, it’s confusing, there are latching issues, and sucking issues, and nipple issues, and under supply issues, and oversupply issues. Point is, it’s often not easy – many women think it should be, but very often it’s not. Find a good lactation consultant. Supplement formula if you need to (we did!). And give yourself a break.
7. Be gentle to your body – it just made and carried and delivered a baby into this world. It will look different. It will feel different. A wise woman once reminded me that it took 9 months to grow the baby, it should take at least another 9months to feel normal.
8. Ask for help. Accept help.
9. Leave. Go out by yourself. Go for a walk, go shopping, get a massage. Leave the baby with your husband/partner/friend for an hour. They can handle it. It’s good for them to experience taking care of baby alone, good for the baby to be around different people, and good for you to remember there is life outside of new motherhood.
10. Date night. Don’t forget about your relationship with your partner – that relationship needs to be nurtured in order to make it through the rough moments. Even if you can only sneak away for an hour, and all you want to do is vege out in front of a movie, do it. Go for a walk together. Sit and talk together. Grab dinner, or lunch together. Get unconventional and think outside the box if you have to. The point is, make time to be alone with your partner, and make it a habit.
I remember wishing the first few weeks would pass quickly, I thought they were so difficult. But now I’m totally nostalgic about those first few sleepless weeks. It’s amazing what the mind can forget.