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Being a first time mom is exciting and waiting for the arrival of your little bundle of joy is one of the best parts of pregnancy. Then the day comes and suddenly you’re a mom. In the span of hours you are “in charge” of this little life. It’s overwhelming; there isn’t a question about that. It’s euphoric and terrifying all at the same time; that’s normal and you are not alone. Hey, I know that you will receive various bits and pieces of advice from every single person you know as well as those random, well-meaning, belly rubbing strangers in the grocery store but here are some pieces of advice I thought you’d like to hear.
1. I’ve heard this about 100 times but, “You do NOT and will not use 90% of the items you register for and receive at your shower.”
2. If your home is small without a lot of storage space consider borrowing some of the bigger baby items from friends like the bouncer, bassinet, jumpers, etc. Sure it’s fun to register for those items but if you don’t have space then you don’t have space.
3. Don’t read all of the parenting books out there and be careful of some of the pregnancy books – they might scare you!
4. If you are the kind of person who gets stressed out by having a regimented plan, don’t make a birth plan. They aren’t for everyone. And conversely, if you have a birth plan remember that anything can happen. Don’t get your heart set on something you cannot control.
5. If you want to have a labor and delivery without the use of pain management medication use available resources to help guide you – Hypnobirthing, The Bradley Method as well as other moms who have experienced labor and delivery without medication.
6. You do not have to listen to every woman’s horror birth story if you don’t want to; speak up for yourself and don’t listen.
7. You are your baby’s mother and you are that child’s advocate. Trust your instinct.
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After the baby’s born…
1. Even if you have a vaginal delivery or a C-section, you will be sore afterwards. Follow your midwife or doctor’s orders and take it easy.
2. If you deliver in the hospital, get up and try to walk around; it’ll help with your recovery.
3. Postpartum bleeding is normal and happens for weeks. Have pads, pads and more pads around because if you use a tampon or a menstrual cup you won’t be able to after delivery.
4. Your milk will come in a few days after your baby’s birth day. On this day you will be emotional; okay, emotional may not really describe it. Your hormones are indeed raging; it’s like getting your period times ten. It’ll pass.
5. Have lots of nice breast pads on hand and a good working breast pump.
6. Freeze your breast milk! Chances are your baby will take about two ounces of milk per feeding. Pump the rest and freeze it for later. Trust us on this one. Check out Milkies Milk Trays; each slot in the tray is 1 fluid ounce so all when it comes time to thaw the milk you simply take a frozen stick and thaw. No more guess work and that my friends is genius.
7. Breastfeeding is not as easy as it looks so don’t be surprised if your baby doesn’t “get it” right away. Keep at it and surround yourself with a lot of supportive women who have been there too.
8. Skin to skin; it’s a great way to bond with your baby for both you and Daddy.
Life After Baby
1. Yes, your newbie baby is tiny and getting out of the house is a little more challenging than it was before BUT newborns are incredibly portable. Bring that baby everywhere and get out of the house when you feel up to it! Catch a movie with daddy and wear the baby, go out for dinner with baby, walk the mall and shop. After eight to ten weeks your baby will need a little more of a routine and quieter area to sleep in.
2. Accept help; you don’t have to be Super Mom. None of us are.
3. Sleep when the baby sleeps – really we mean it.
4. Let Dad help you however he wants. If he wants to rock the baby when he gets home, feed the baby a bottle at night, or bathe baby; let him. It’s good bonding time for him and baby.
5. Take a shower every day; you’ll feel better after a sleepless night.
6. Fussiness peaks at six weeks (or six weeks from the due date if your baby was early or overdue).
7. Due to number 6 above, you should do whatever you can to make the baby sleep – rock, sway, bounce, and wear. You cannot spoil a newborn.
8. Don’t underestimate swaddling and white noise.
9. Also if baby is really overtired, over-stimulated, or fussy and nothing is soothing, try (and this is going to sound weird) turning on a hair dryer, vacuum cleaner, or dust buster. The noise reminds them of the womb.
10. One older, experienced mom put it best to me once, “Sleep when you can, play when you can, have sex when you can and screw dusting.” Love it!
11. Enjoy the snugly moments, the late night feedings and the frequent naps. You won’t regret those one bit once baby’s older and on the move.
12. While it’s good to be aware of postpartum depression (PPD) remember that after the baby is born you will experience what’s called the “baby blues.” This is normal and usually lasts up to three weeks after delivery. That is not PPD.
13. Be willing to accept help from family, friends, and neighbors. If you need to take a walk around the block to just breathe, ask a friend to come over and stay with the baby.
14. The house will be messy…but they’re only babies once.
15. After three months from baby’s birth date your hair will fall out. It’s normal, creepy, but totally normal.
16. Adopt this mantra: It’s a phase and it’ll pass. (This pertains to pretty much every struggle you’ll encounter from sleeping problems, napping problems, separation anxiety, feeding problems, etc.)
17. Choose to laugh. If you don’t you most certainly will cry.
Top Three Pieces of Advice from Me (as I have “been there and done that” three times)
3. Enjoy how dependent your little baby is on you and love on that little one as long as you can.
2. Don’t try to do everything on your own; accept for help and ask for it too. That’s being “mom enough.”
1. Trust your instinct; nine times out of ten you’ll be right.
Bert Anderson is a blogger and social media manager mom of three living outside of the Twin Cities in Minnesota. She’s the author behind the blog First Time Mom, where she honestly chronicles the peaks and valleys of parenting. Even though she has more than one child, Bert maintains that whether you have one child or 19, there’s a first time for everything. She’s a lover of coffee, conversations, pop culture, healthy living and fitness.