Are you a new mom in need of a helping hand? Grab a cup of coffee and check out these first time mom tips.
Must-Know First Time Mom Tips
It’s Okay Not to Feel Happy All the Time
I know you counted down the days till you met your bundle of joy. You may have dreamed of this moment for years. So you may wonder, “Why am I not happier?”
First of all, the first year of motherhood is a radical change from your pre-kid life. Every routine you had has been upended. It is going to take awhile for you to find your footing.
Second, you are in a tidal wave of hormones and emotions. Sometimes our happiness level is more about our brain chemistry than our actual life.
Third, you’re exhausted. Sleep and mood go hand in hand. I remember those early days with a baby, spilling something on the floor and bursting into tears. I was too tired for anything extra, even grabbing a paper towel and cleaning up.
Sleep Is Important
Okay, I know you know this. You’ve probably heard the well-worn advice, “Sleep when the baby sleeps.” There is a reason people keep repeating it.
You need to take advantage of every opportunity to rest. You need even more rest than you did before you had a baby, because now the nighttime sleep you are getting is likely fractured with baby feedings and colicky spells.
When you put your baby down for a nap, you are never guaranteed that he will sleep long. Put your feet up and rest too. If you wake up after a bit, use that time to tackle the laundry or scroll through Facebook.
You may also have a friend or neighbor (aka an angel) who would be willing to come hold the baby while you take a nap.
See if your partner will take the bedtime feeding so you can hit the hay a bit earlier. If you could get a five-hour stretch of uninterrupted sleep, it could boost your energy and your mood the next day.
Doing Your Best Is Good Enough
We all daydream about what life will be like with our new little one. We picture the tiny toes, the sweet cuddles, and that first wobbly smile. We imagine we will have this unbreakable connection with our baby–that we will be able to anticipate their needs and make them happy all the time.
And then reality sets in. Maybe you wanted a natural birth and it didn’t work out. Maybe you planned on breastfeeding but switched to formula. Perhaps you promised yourself no pacifiers. Or your baby cried inconsolably one night and you couldn’t soothe her.
Or maybe you look at your house, the piles of laundry, the dirty dishes–or you look at yourself and realize you haven’t washed your hair in a week and you are still wearing pajamas at 3 pm. You thought you’d manage it all better.
Here’s one of the most important first time mom tips: Give yourself a break. This is hard work.
And I guarantee that in your baby’s eyes, you’re winning. You are an amazing mom! Raising a baby is physically, mentally, and emotionally demanding. No one is perfect at it, so let that go.
You’re Doing More Than You Think You Are
You’re doing a good job. I’m sure of it. In fact, you are probably doing more than you realize.
You are feeding your baby.
Did you know that when you are feeding your baby, holding him close, he is learning that he can trust you? Infants have limited vision, but they can see your face as you feed them. These quiet moments create connection.
You are keeping her safe.
Even in the most baby-proofed home, babies still need supervision. No doubt you are buckling her in her car seat, providing her with a safe place to sleep, and giving her all the food that she requires. You are looking out for her when she is too young to do it for herself.
You are attending to her needs.
All babies cry. They have no words, so it is one of their main communication tools. When they are gassy or teething, they can be difficult to soothe. Even if you feel you aren’t helping in those moments, trust me you are. Your presence is a comfort to them (even if they continue to cry).
Don’t Be Afraid of Bodily Fluids
Here’s one of the first time mom tips and tricks that other people don’t like to talk about, and it’s about to get messy. Babies share their bodily fluids with the world. Those fluids are constant, they smell, and they splatter (sorry to break that to you!).
First off, there is the poop. And that poop can find any crack in the side of a diaper and escape. Or worse, it can come at the most inopportune moment (like when you are changing a diaper). Your baby will go through numerous outfits in a day. And you will become an expert at checking their stool. What consistency is it? What color? Bits of blood in baby poop can indicate allergies. Hard stool can indicate dehydration. You will be more concerned with poop than ever before.
Next there is the spit-up. Actually, I think that calling it spit is a misnomer. That stuff is not clear and it smells horrible–like a strong cheese. Some babies spit up more than others, so if yours is a spitter, get ready for your new accessory: the burp cloth. It’s the fashion choice of the season.
Remember to breathe. In fact, take a few cleansing breaths right now. Being a new mom is stressful, and focused breathing can help calm you in those harried moments.
Get Outside When You Can
Do not underestimate the power of sunshine and fresh air. Babies love it–a stroller walk or a ride in a baby carrier can instantly soothe even the fussiest infant. There is a certain magic in a change of scene.
Being outdoors can help you too. Not only are cleansing breaths of fresh air energizing and stress-reducing, but your body will actually make an important vitamin while you’re out there.
When you expose your skin to the sun’s rays, your body will produce Vitamin D. Vitamin D is necessary for health–your bones, muscles, nerves, and immune system need it. And Vitamin D is also vital for balanced brain chemistry. Low levels of vitamin D in the blood have been linked to depression.
One More Thing for First Time Moms
One last word of advice for a new mom: Be easy on yourself and accept help. The first year as a mom is hard, so reach out to others.
Talk to your mom, your friends, your spouse, and your doctor. No one expects you to handle everything perfectly.
Have grace for yourself, and enjoy the beginning of the rest of your life. You are now a mama–the best and hardest job there is.