Ready or not, your baby is coming! As a new mom, you’ll be faced with uncertainties: Am I doing this right? Is my baby eating enough? Too much? Is he sleeping enough, pooping enough? Is his poop supposed to be that color? At times, you may think you are doing it all wrong.
Even with the all the information available to you, somehow when you’re in the thick of things you can doubt what you’re doing. 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; they are there for you (and your milk ducts). Nursing doesn’t come easily 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 had my first baby, I really wanted to breastfeed, but wasn’t too sure I was doing it right,” says Julie Anderson, Smyrna mother of two. “I was a little uncomfortable with anyone being around while I nursed and was hesitant to ask questions. I was just glad that the lactation nurses at the hospital I delivered in were there anyway, coming in regularly and asking if I was doing OK,” she adds. “It was their help and guidance that gave me the confidence I needed.”
2) Doctor, Doctor
If you have health concerns about your baby don’t feel uncomfortable calling the pediatrician or advice nurse at any time. Trust your instincts and call. It’s better to err on the side of caution. Always call the doctor if the baby develops a rash or a very high fever.
3) Heavy Lifting
Don’t lift anything heavier than your baby for the first month. 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 OK, start doing those Kegel exercises.
Sherrie Palm, President of APOPS (Association for Pelvic Floor Prolapse Support) 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) Aaahh, Spa Day … at Home
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. But after, 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 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. “Don’t worry about making sure your house is super tidy and in tip-top shape,” says Anderson. “You need to get rest while you can, and that may only be while Baby is sleeping. So, take advantage of all his little naps and get your naps in, too.”
8) Oh, the Drama
Face it, your hormones are on a wild roller coaster ride right now. The same hormones that encouraged you to get pregnant are now working overtime adjusting to your new postpartum life. You will cry for seemingly no reason at all, you will laugh, you might be overwhelmed and maybe even a little blue … all within a 10-minute time span. 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 husband understands your wants and needs. If you need him to do something, you must ask. If he doesn’t respond to your vocal request, post a “Honey Do” list on your fridge.
“Men are generally not very intuitive, so if you tell him specifically what you what, you are much more likely to get it,” says Greg Bishop, author of Hit the Ground Crawling: Lessons from 150,000 New Fathers (Dads Adventures).
Also make sure your new daddy is involved with the baby. Let him change diapers, get the baby to sleep, give a bottle, etc. Let him do his own thing with the baby; this is their time to bond. All of you will be happier and more relaxed.
Remember, whatever you do for your baby is the right choice because it’s out of love and because you’re Mommy. Keep in mind that with every day it does get easier. Trust your instincts and be gentle with your “hormonal” self.
Cassi Denari is a freelance writer.