I was talking to a friend who is a new mom about the transition to motherhood and how tough the challenges can be. Four years in I still firmly recall bringing Chase home for the hospital and being somewhat overwhelmed with the responsibilities.Who thought trusting me - even at 38 - with a newborn was a wise decision?
There's a lot of advise out there for navigating this big life change. Here's mine:
1.) Throw out the "sleep when the baby sleeps" advice. Personally, I hate this one. Sleep when you can. There will be times you need to do laundry (because spit up.... amiright?). There will be times you need to make a meal. There will be times you can't shut your brain off. I think the "sleep when the baby sleeps" advice can cause guilt or frustration, two things you don't need right now. Do the best you can.
2.) Allow yourself to cry. The hormones are flowing. You're not getting solid sleep. Everything is changing. Crying is okay. People might say "oh you must be so happy" or "he/she is so beautiful. How blessed you are." And that might be true. (It also might not be but that's a separate item!) But you're also allowed to cry. It's healthy even.
4.) Take the drugs but also recognize when you don't need them. I had c-sections with both kids. The first was an emergency because of crooked neck Chase. He wasn't coming out. I have scoliosis so that might have been a factor. The second was a scheduled c-section because they believed the same challenge might occur again. Following my doctor's advice on taking the drugs but also listening to my body and knowing when my pain decreased was huge. Addiction runs in my family so I'm very tuned in to listening to myself. Manage your pain with the drugs. But try to tune in to when that pain is decreasing.
5.) Take all the help offered you. People want to help. Let them. But set boundaries as needed. Helping isn't coming in and cuddling the baby for hours (unless that is what YOU want). Helping is doing a load of laundry. Help is dropping off dinner, preferably without staying. Helping is emptying your diaper pail or vacuuming. Don't feel guilty or like you shouldn't say yes. Let people help.
That said, some people will "help" in their own way. You're allowed to set boundaries. If people are sick or haven't had the requisite vaccinations you want, you can say no to them coming close to your baby. If people park themselves in your living room and stay foreverrrrr, have your partner or parent ask them to leave.
6.) If you are feeling sad, down or overly emotional, keep the lines of communication open with your medical team. My family is also prone to depression. I've also had my own challenges over my life. With this in mind, I left the hospital both times with a prescription for an anti-depressant. Sometimes you need help, whether it is counseling or a prescription. Don't hesitate to talk to your doctor or other medical professionals about this. My doctor, the pediatrician, and the lactation consultant all talked to me about it. I'm so glad they did!
7.) Follow your instincts and advocate for yourself. You know your body best. You know your baby best. If something isn't quite right, don't let the medical professionals dismiss you. Serena Williams has very publicly shared the challenges she faced post delivery. If she didn't push, she might not be alive now. I know it can be tough to tell a medical professional "you're wrong" but ultimately you have a great sense of what's okay and what isn't. Push when you need to!!
8.) Don't feel you need to do all the things people do now. And don't feel guilty if you want to! We didn't do newborn photos for either kid. I don't regret it. We took a ton of photos of our own. That said, I love looking at other people's newborn photos. We have more and more "must dos". Determine your own.
9.) Be prepared to buy that thing you didn't even know you needed! We didn't have the best swing for our son who was super colic-y. So we bought a new one. Babies will determine what you need and it might not be what you have. Be flexible if you have the resources to be.
10.) Find your mom network. Having other moms to bounce things off of is HUGE. I had a small group of new moms and some experienced moms I could count on for advice or could run things by. Join a MOMS Club. Put together a Facebook group of moms at similar stages. Join the Facebook group for your Wonder Weeks month. Join the support group at your hospital or local lactation support center.
You've got this Momma! As you navigate this life change, I'd love to hear what advice you think I missed. And please, believe in yourself. How lucky that kiddo is to have you!!