As a new mom, I was lucky enough to have a group of 8 friends who all gave birth around the same time as I did. The wisdom that has been shared is priceless. I hope some of these tips help the new/soon to be moms who read this blog. They are in no particular order. Feel free to add more in the comment section:
1. Surround yourself with as many moms who have a baby in the same general age range (give or take 3 months) as you. Talk and email with them often. Share stories, pains, frustrations and joys. It truly does take a village.
2. The Three Week Growth Spurt – why is my baby eating every hour? Am I not making enough milk? Nope. It’s the three-week growth spurt. It’ll last for 24-36 hours. It will be hell, but there is nothing wrong. Your little one is growing. Fill your water bottle and pop in a movie. It's going to be an exhausting few days, but you'll get through it.
3. Do whatever you need to do to get sleep as a family – even if you swore it all off before having the baby, no one will (or should) give you any crap for changing your mind. Co-sleeping isn’t the answer for everyone, but it can work if you need & want it to.
4. Breastfeeding is natural – but it doesn’t always come easy. Seek help. Talk to other moms, lactation consultants, whomever. But talk and ask questions.
5. Pumping is so easy, but so hard. Make sure you have the right equipment. Ask people how to do it. The best shortcut I learned – take a cheap sports bra and cut holes in it to hold the phalanges in place to go hands-free.
6. There is nothing wrong with formula supplements. Or full-time formula. You need to do what is best for you and your family. Don’t do one thing or another just because someone tells you that you should. I personally chose breast feeding because I felt it was best for my daughter and that I could and wanted to do it. There is too much stress and guilt placed on moms to add another thing to the list.
7. Don’t read too much. There is so much information out there – you can find something about everything. Read enough, but trust your instincts. We’ve been doing this for thousands of years before books came along.
8. If it doesn’t work the first time, try it again. And again, and again. Swaddling – Sophia hated it. Till she couldn’t sleep with out it. Food. Avocados = bleahh. Until she liked them.
9. Everything your baby does will affect you 10x more when you’re exhausted. Take a breath (or a shower) and it’ll be ok.
9.5 Try to get a shower in every 24 hours. You may not feel like you have time/energy for it. But trust me - you will feel better. And your baby will be fine sitting in his vibrating chair or swing.
10. Just when you think you have a schedule or pattern set, it changes. Teething. Brain development. Time change. Just go with it.
10.5 Don't be afraid to ask for help. From your husband, your mother, your mother-in-law, best friend, neighbor. You can do it all by yourself, but you'll be better off if you don't. This was the hardest one for me.
11. Get outside as much as you can with your baby. Fresh air is amazing for both of you. You can bundle them (& you) for the cold. Trust me, it’ll do wonders for your sanity.
11.5 Learn to prioritize, make lists and be efficient. If only babies held up a little flag saying "I'm going to sleep now for 45 minutes, so don't start anything big" or "I'm in for a 2 hour nap, so relax and enjoy yourself". But they don't. So make the most of the time you think you have. I found I have such mommy brain - I'll start 5 different tasks and finish none of them before Sophia wakes up. I have to manually force myself to figure out which is most important and then finish it before walking to another room (Kind of like the dogs in "Up" - blah blah blah - SQUIRREL!)
12. You will never be a perfect mom. Or dad. Just be the best you can – the spectrum of what is “right” for your baby is huge. The area of what is “wrong” is so very small and obvious. Go with what works for you and your family.
13. You never, ever expected poop to be such a conversation piece: descriptive emails, subject headers and phone calls discussing the subject extensively. But hey, you gotta talk about it.
13.5 Try to ignore the percentiles and comparisons. We all get caught up someway or another in it. People will constantly assess your baby's height/weight/hair. Generally these people have no clue or memory of what a baby is "supposed" to be at that age anyway. And even if they do know, if they're not your doctor, ignore them.
14. Trust your baby's father. He may not have given birth to your baby, but assuming you love and trust him enough to be in your life, he will manage to keep your child clean, safe and fed. He may not do it the way you'd do it. But the end result will be the same.
15. Take time for yourself. Physically and mentally. Your body went through hell giving birth (whether natural, with medication or a c-section). You are obviously very focused on caring for your child, but don't forget about you. If you're not in top form, you won't be able to be the best for your child. Take that yoga class. Call your girlfriends to talk. Go to a movie. Have a glass of wine.