From the time you find out you are expecting on, you will be bombarded with advice on everything. It seems everyone has something to say about how you should or shouldn’t raise your child. Some of it is gold, and some of it is garbage. You will make yourself crazy trying to figure out which is which.
Here is some unsolicited advice that you can take to the bank, guaranteed.
Sleep When You Can
You just spent 9 months (actually 10) creating a whole person with your body. As if that wasn’t exhausting enough, you then had to evict that person from your body and into the world. Whether you delivered your baby vaginally, or had a c section, that is a draining undertaking in and of itself. Now keeping that tiny person happy and healthy falls on you (and maybe dad, but mostly you). Your body will need to rest after all that work.
The best piece of advice I got was to sleep whenever I was able. And I did. I grabbed 30 minutes of sleep when my son would fall asleep between feedings. If my husband even remotely suggested that I looked tired, I took that as my cue to go lay down. Any opportunity I could find, I slept. Laundry and chores be damned. At least for the first few weeks. Eventually, I had to find a balance, but immediately after my son came home, everything went on the backburner.
My house didn’t fall down, and nobody ended up naked or wearing dirty clothes. I found ways to get things done that needed to be done, but my number one priority was to take care of myself. That little baby boy needed his mom, and I wasn’t going to be any use to him if I was too tired to function. So if you are feeling run down, and the baby is sleeping, by all means sleep. The dishes will still be there when you wake up (unfortunately).
Cry If You Need To
Oh, hormones. So many hormones! You may have thought they made you crazy when you were pregnant, but you haven’t seen anything yet. Post-partum hormones are insane. You will cry over nothing, and then cry harder because you don’t even know why you’re crying. I’m not kidding. I once cried because my son was so perfect and I loved him so much. Then I started sobbing because I kept thinking I shouldn’t be crying when I have such a perfect little baby.
Just let it out. Cry if you need to. Its very natural with all the changes going on inside your body to be on an emotional rollercoaster. However, if the sadness ever gets to be too much, or the anxiety becomes overwhelming, please see a doctor. Call your OB, or even your PCP (primary care provider) and tell them what is going on. Post-partum depression and anxiety are very real, and can be very scary for the person going through them. My best advice is never to be afraid to ask someone for help.
Pause to Enjoy the Moments
As moms, we can get so busy. There are diapers to change, laundry to do, dinner to cook, maybe even a 9 to 5 taking up your day. Nobody gave me this advice, but this is something I tell every new mom, or mom-to-be. Sometimes, just stop. Stop rushing from task to task, and trying to be Super Mom, and just enjoy the moment. Take a moment after rocking your infant to sleep to just hold them a few seconds longer. Look at that tiny sleeping face, and just soak it in.
When your toddler comes up and asks you to play dolls or cars or whatever game they are into at the moment, take the time to get on the floor and just play. Put all those mom responsibilities on the backburner, and just be with your child for a while. Let them pull you into their little world.
Everyone says that it goes by so fast. Everyone is right. Time just seems to fly by. Family members and I will look at pictures from when my son was an infant and someone inevitably will say, “I can’t even remember him that little!” I can. Absolutely can. I took those moments to just breathe in that baby smell, to memorize that toothless smile, to enjoy that sloppy baby kiss. I will hold those memories forever.
I’m sitting here watching my sweet baby turn into a little boy before my eyes. I still make myself find these moments in each day. Before I know it, he will be a surly teenager, and then someday a man. But I will still have this collection of moments in my mind to look back on and live all over again.
Take a Billion Photos and Million Videos
My advice is to seriously be obnoxious about photos and videos. You will thank yourself later. Children grow and change quickly. Capture the moments. I must have about 3-4 full albums of pictures of my son from birth until the age of 1. I’m not even sorry. I will have those photos and memories forever.
One regret that I have is not taking more videos of my son as he was growing. Thankfully, my husband was better about this. Even if the videos are 30 seconds long, take them. Capture those first coos. Record those little giggles. Absolutely film those first baby dance moves. They are so much fun to look back on.
Cut Daddy Some Slack, He’s New at This Too
It is really easy to get frustrated with your partner when a new baby comes into the picture. You will be tired, cranky, hormonal, and overwhelmed. My husband was a massive help to me both with our son and around the house. That doesn’t mean I didn’t have moments where I wanted to strangle him. That’s normal.
Focus on communicating clearly, and remembering that this is a big adjustment for both of you. The learning curve is steep, but you will figure it out. My advice is to speak up about what you need from each other. Consider each other before getting upset over something that wont matter in a day, week, or year from now.
Stop Being So Hard on Yourself
Moms, we tend to be our own biggest critic. We all want to be super mom and do it all. Martha Stewart, and Mrs. Brady, and June Cleaver. It is impossible. Especially at first. It will take some time to adjust to getting things done with a baby in tow.
My advice is to strive to be like more realistic moms. My mom role models include Kitty Forman from That 70’s Show, and Roseanne Conner from Roseanne. Maybe with a little Lorelai Gilmore thrown in the mix too. I don’t need to be perfect. My goal is to do the very best I can for my children and my husband. They wont remember if dinner was burned a couple times, or if I restarted the dryer sometimes because I didn’t feel like putting the laundry away. They will remember that I tried hard and loved them fiercely and that is perfect in my book.
Ask for Help
This is one of the most important pieces of advice that I can give. Ask for help if you need it. Don’t feel like you have to do everything yourself. Lean on your husband or partner a little. Ask family members or friends for assistance when you need it.
We all need a little help sometimes. Ask your husband if you can go to sleep a little early sometimes when you’re tired. Ask a friend or relative to play with your toddler for a little bit so you can take a shower. Request that someone trusted will babysit on occasion so you can have a night out.
Leave Your Baby Sometimes
I know, it is really hard to be away from your baby, especially when they are small. It will do you some good to leave them once in a while. Even if you just need to make a quick trip for some milk and bread. Leave them with dad, or someone you trust, and make the run alone.
Start small, and work your way up to longer intervals. The time may come where you have to leave them for an extended period and you don’t want to be blind-sided. Maybe you will have to take a work trip for couple days, or have a wedding that requires you leave them over night. In my experience, its better to work your way up to it.
See Your Doctor
During pregnancy, it can sometimes feel like you live in doctors’ offices. I was high-risk, so I was in one office or another at least 2-3 times a week toward the end. Its easy to get a little burned out. However, it is important to follow up with your doctors after your baby is born. Your OB will want to make sure everything is healing and returning to normal properly. You will want to keep up on yearly check ups with your primary care doctor as well.
Sometimes, having a baby can do some wacky things to your body. Its best to make sure everything is working properly so that you can stay healthy for your baby. They need you mom, so make sure to make time for your own health.
Don’t Entertain Guests, Hang Out With Helpers
If you don’t listen to any other advice I give, you will want to listen to this one. This was by far the BEST advice I was given. You have just had a baby. You are tired and trying to adjust to your new life. The last thing you need is to be playing hostess to a bunch of people expecting to be waited on hand and foot. Do not invite these people around, or you are just making more work for yourself.
Instead, welcome all who are willing to help. Anyone who would be willing to sit with the baby while you nap or shower, anyone offering to bring you lunch, and anyone who doesn’t expect you to have a spotless house and a 4 course meal prepared for their arrival.
Once you are feeling more adjusted to your new life and role, then you may feel up to playing hostess and entertaining. But when you first get home from the hospital with your baby, do yourself the biggest favor and surround yourself with the laid back people in your life.