Helpful Advice for New Moms
As soon as you make the announcement you are expecting, you welcome the onslaught of advice. Everyone has a piece to share, the Internet has millions of sites and blogs chock full of it, and your doctor has many lists of medical tidbits. All this can feel overwhelming, especially for first-time moms-to-be. So in an effort to help all of you new mamas, I have compiled a list of the Top Five “#1 Pieces of Advice” from a variety of moms, who range from teachers to nurses to businesswomen and have children from 3 months all the way to young adults.
- Every single family and baby are different. Take in advice but be prepared to make it your own and do what works for you, your family and your baby. For example, when I introduced the bottle to my baby girl, most people said I must warm it up, so I bought a nice, fancy bottle warmer and guess what? She likes her milk cold. Follow your pediatrician’s suggestions and then approach advice from friends and family with a trial-and-error mindset. You will figure out your baby more and more each day and what works or does not work. Sara, a mother of three, also reminds us that not all newborns enjoy the same things, so you also should not feel the need to buy every baby machine/toy/bottle/gadget until you start to get a feel for what your baby likes.
- Don’t refuse help. We women like to have everything under control at all times and to never need to ask for help. The newborn stage is NOT a time for this. Motherhood is hard, and everyone knows you need help regardless of whether or not you admit that out loud. As Rachael, a mother of a 1-year old son says, “It’s always okay to accept help, even if it’s just to get in a shower.”
- Prep Yourself Weekly. Make about two weeks of meals that can be frozen and then just reheated once Baby is here if you are still awaiting his arrival. This means breakfasts, lunches and dinners! You may also want to buy one or two months’ worth of frequently-used household items, such as toothpaste, shower necessities, laundry soap, dishwasher pods, Clorox wipes, paper towels, toilet paper, pet food, etc. If Baby is here already, keep up the easy meal prep with the slow-cooker! On Sundays, ask your spouse or a friend to help you watch the baby while you prep some freezer meals for the week ahead. Natalie, mother of a 1-year old daughter, says she loves to use Amazon Prime and Subscribe & Save for that first year as well!
- Use the 5 S’s. Swaddle, swing, side, shush, suck. Dr. Harvey Karp, author of The Happiest Baby on the Block, studied baby-soothing techniques and found that newborns are used to the womb, so by swaddling, swinging and shushing, we are recreating that tight space and the kind of movement and sound they are used to. Laying them on their side helps de-stimulate them by not making eye contact. Allowing them to use a pacifier or suck on your finger (nail facing down) can also soothe them.
- Give yourself grace. A bad day does not mean a bad parent. Even the best-looking parents and moms with flawless Instagram posts have rough days and times where they feel like they do not know what they are doing. Motherhood is a job, and like other jobs, you might not love it every single day—and that is okay. As Jenny, a mother of one, puts it, “As long as your child is fed and has a dry diaper and your love, you’re doing great.”
Moms gave me so many other helpful tips in this research, and I’ve picked up a few helpful techniques of my own experience as a new mother—I wish I could share it all! However, I do think these five might be the top because they apply to so many families. As you wade through this journey of motherhood, please remember this: Comparison is the thief of joy. Don’t waste your energy trying to be like another mom or beating yourself up because your baby doesn’t follow every rule you think he should because your friend’s baby did. Find people who lift you up and offer a helpful hand, take in their advice, try different things, respond to your individual baby and give yourself all of the grace. Being a mom is hard, hard work, and no one should tell you differently. But it is also rewarding and life-changing in some of the best ways possible. Someday you will look back and realize you figured it all out and raised a wonderful human when it seemed like you never would.
Lauren Cook lives in Spring Hill with her husband, one sweet baby girl and one sweet little pup. She thinks that baking (and eating!) delicious treats can be the best kind of therapy.
As always, please consult your health care provider with any questions or concerns.