This is for all of you first time mamas out there. I hope this helps you and encourages you to just breathe and enjoy the season you are in. You’re only a first time mom once. You’ll soon have your own list of things you wished you knew before you had your baby too… but, we can’t hit redo, so take what you’ve learned and share it with new mamas. As you’ll read later, use what you relate to and ignore what doesn’t help you. Much love 😘
- Don’t try to fix your baby’s sleep schedule (for me it was by being noisy and waking her up during the day). Newborns need as much sleep as possible (especially my 4 week early preemie). I was so bothered by the fact that she had a hard time sleeping at night (I didn’t realize this was normal and would correct itself on it’s own or with gentle help from me later), so I was loud. I’d try to keep her awake during the day. Unfortunately, I am now suffering with a 4 month old who cannot put herself to sleep or calm herself down at all! I was so intense, so now, she too is intense. Part of that is her personality, but I believe that her inability to sleep has also led to high intensity with the inability to self-soothe. I’ll let you know if I find the answer to getting her back on track.
- Just enjoy the stage your baby is in. Let him or her just relax and rest. Don’t worry yourself with the dozens of milestones you think you need to help your baby accomplish every single day. You’ll end up not enjoying your time with your baby. You’ll be stressed and your baby will pick up on all of that. Yes, tummy time is important. But, will your baby never learn to hold his/her neck up if you don’t do it every day for 5-10 minutes? No. So, just relax. Let your baby play when you can tell he/she wants to. Don’t force it just so you can check something off the list.
- Follow a routine and create a schedule based on your baby’s patterns. I fall somewhere between attachment parenting and the cry-it-out parenting method. I’m never going to be comfortable leaving my baby to cry until she’s sweating, screaming, and pooping her pants, so I don’t think you should do that. But, I also think parents can and need to have a break every once in awhile. I’ve found this to be nearly impossible because I didn’t allow/help my daughter to follow a schedule. It doesn’t need to be forced on your baby, but usually a baby will follow one to a degree on their own or with a little nudge here and there. I was so excited to be with my baby nonstop (most of us new moms are) so again, she has a hard time self-soothing. I would hold her while she slept because I just wanted to be with her, I would feed her every time she cried, etc. These are all wonderful things, but because I did them in excess and non-stop, my beautiful baby girl doesn’t know what she’s capable of doing on her own. You’ll thank yourself later if you set your baby down when she sleeps or find other things to comfort her besides a boob.
- If you plan to use a pacifier, give it to your baby whenever YOU want. Don’t feel like you have to wait unless your doctor or lactation consultant says otherwise. Keep doing what you need to do to keep your milk supply up. Of course always make sure you’re not substituting a pacifier for a feeding, but by all means, get your baby used to a paci early on. For gosh sakes, don’t tell the hospital nurses not to give her a paci when they are having to do something painful to your child (I wanted to do that when I found out they gave her one… silly me). Comfort your baby first…Worry about following rules that might not even be medically founded – do this last. I tried to get my daughter used to her paci around two weeks. She wasn’t opposed to it. I then decided to not give her one again until our nursing was better established. Now, she still won’t take one. There are so many reasons for us personally, that a pacifier would help. However, understand that some babies never learn to use or like pacifiers. If you’re baby is calm without one, don’t force him or her to take it.
- Don’t make all of your parenting decisions based on what you read online or in books. Reading occasionally is a good thing, but obsessing over every little decision you have to make as a parent will get exhausting and overwhelming. You’re always going to find contradicting information when researching anyway. It will mess with your head and you’ll start to distrust your own intuition. No one knows your child like you do. Put the parenting books and online articles away and just enjoy spending time with your baby (especially the first few weeks). If you start researching every little thing going on with your child the day you bring him or her home from the hospital, you’re creating a habit that’s so hard (feels impossible) to break.
- Listen to YOUR intuition. Even though medical professionals do their best to meet your child’s every need (especially before leaving the hospital), they are going to miss some things. Things are going to fall through the cracks. For example, because my baby was preemie, everyone assumed she couldn’t latch because she was tiny and the latch/sucking ability is one of the last things to develop. This was probably a contributing factor to the problem, but because of that, not one lactation consultant checked her for lip and tongue ties. After dealing with nursing issues until she was 9 weeks old, I knew I had to get her checked for these. I had to convince my pediatrician to send me to a pediatric ENT. He confirmed my suspicions and did the necessary procedures right there. If I hadn’t listened to my gut and in this instance researched the latch issue that had been going on for her entire life, then we may have had to quit breastfeeding. Listen to your gut mama. You won’t regret it.
- Do what YOU want. At the end of the day, this bundle of joy is YOURS. You will get advice from every well-meaning Mom (including myself) and even some Dads. Take it all with a grain of salt. Again, no one knows your baby like you do. Take the advice that you think will help or work for you, and throw out the advice that doesn’t work for you (after you kindly say thank you of course 😉).
There are probably hundreds of tips that I would have liked to know ahead of time, but if I could go back, these would be the most helpful for me. If anyone thinks of any others, please feel free to comment them below.
Thanks for taking the time to read! ❤️