Thursday, January 27, 2011

Advice To A New Mom?

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Whether you adopt or give birth to the child you hold in your arms, there is nothing like a mother's love.  That fierce protectiveness, that surge of emotion that reminds you that you are forever changed, and even the nerves and twinges of fear that color many moments in those early days and that never quite go away all remind you that you are now a mom.

It sounds daunting, doesn't it?  But no mother would tell you that it isn't the greatest job in the world.

This past weekend I attended a baby shower for friends of ours.  It brought back all of those memories of before Emily was born.  Could it only be four years ago that she was still inside me as my husband and I  argued over names, planned the nursery, and I read every baby book I could get my hands on?

The table I sat at at the shower was a motley group of women from a college student who didn't have children to a grandmother who was well versed in child rearing.  There I was the mom of two toddlers with another baby on the way. We found ourselves talking about the latest research on tv watching and children, labor, lamaze reunions, and breastfeeding. 

I thought of the most baby items (60 to be exact) even while talking with one of the women at the table about all the things you think you need when your expecting baby #1 and then realize after they turn one that you didn't need ALL of those things after all.  One of the women from farther back in the room asked that I read them aloud after everyone went through how many items they had.  Thank goodness no one made me. 

Its no wonder I could think of so many.  This is my life most days.

We all got it when we were expecting or when our babies first arrived.  Advice.  Some sorely needed, some we didn't want to hear, and some that has stuck with us as our children have grown.  There is nothing women who are mothers like to talk about more than what it was like when their children were born, the trends at that time, and how much things have changed.

I really started to think again about the advice I got from other moms or that I read in the myriad books and magazines during my pregnancy.

Choose a pediatrician that you trust
A pediatrician is often going to be your second line of defense (after a mother's and father's instinct and that phone call to grandma) when dealing with the health of your child.  Sometimes they will seem to be a lifeline when you need to hear an expert's opinion and to be reassured that your child is okay, especially when they are sick.  They are also great resources for any questions you have regarding your child from sleeping to behavior (not just illnesses). You need to be comfortable asking them questions such as does poop really come in that many colors. 

Don't lose yourself
Let's face it your life as you knew it is over.  You now have a precious little one who depends solely on you 24/7 and who looks to you to make all of their decisions for them. You have to be willing to give up part of your former life but not all of it.  Many moms go back to work while some may stay at home.  Regardless of which ever you choose still find time to do the things you enjoy even if it is just finding a few minutes to read a book.  There is a such thing as mommy burn out.  Talk to any mom and she will tell you all about it.  It happens to us all at some point (and not just in that first year). 
Find a support group
Motherhood can be isolating especially during the winter months when it is cold outside and trips to the park just are not an option. Find other moms to connect with at storytimes, moms groups, at mommy and me classes, etc.  Having a group of women with children similar in age to your child will give you a chance for some adult conversation and they are a great resource for any questions you may have. These women are going through the same things you are so not only can they be a sounding board but also may become good friends who understand the day to day challenges of motherhood since they are in the trenches right beside you.

Trust your instincts
Trust your gut.  It really is as simple as that.  No one will know your child better than you.  You know all their little coos and you'll probably have their movements memorized. You know better than anyone what is and isn't normal.  Don't doubt yourself. 

Stick with the basics
When your registering for baby items, your child really doesn't need every single toy or baby item known to man.  Really.

As far as toys, a lot of what your child is going to learn in the beginning is going to come from you.  Just because something is labeled educational doens't mean your child must have it especially since many toys are teaching the same skills.  When trying to decide what you really need or that was useful ask other moms who recently had children. 

Walking into any baby store can be overwhelming.  Just since I had my second daughter two years ago, a whole slew of new products have now appeared on the shelves.  Looking at some registry lists I usually can pick out three or four items that most moms will get and never use.  I have several still sitting in the closet from when my first daughter was born. They are things I was sure I would need but which still sit in their original packaging.  Ask other moms for advice when making your lists to register. Better yet, have one of your mom friends go with you (and your husband who you don't want to forget in this process).  She'll be able to steer you away from all the hype around what all moms "must" have versus what they really need.  This will save you time shopping, money, and space in your home. 

Forget your perfect ideal of motherhood.
You'll beat yourself more than anyone else possibly could about whether you are doing the right thing.  Your child needs your love more than anything else and you are the best mother ever in their eyes (even though as they get older they may say the opposite).  Do what is right for you and your family based on the lifestyle you live.  Don't get caught up in the "do this" and "don't do that" mentality or you will drive yourself crazy. I literally drove myself crazy the first year trying to do everything "by the book".  That lasted until my daughter was six months old and I finally said enough was enough.  It felt like a weight had been lifted.  Not being so hard on yourself is the best gift you can give yourself as a mom. Even though we all have those overwhelming days of "mommy guilt", don't let it take over. Move past it.

What advice would you give a new mom?


Ms Bibi said...

Great advice!

"Forget your perfect ideal of motherhood" that's the best advice ever. There is not such a thing and many new moms realize it late.

Jenn Erickson said...

What excellent advice -- so beautifully, clearly written, and well presented. A tremendous gift to any new mom for sure!

Thank you so much for visiting me on my SITS day!

Your newest follower,

Anonymous said...

great post. i also think that on the roller coaster of parenthood, dads are often left out. i found a great online book for new dads at i think one of the most important things for happy mom is happy dad.

Joy@TPMG said...

Your right that Dad is just as important in the whole scheme of things! I don't think I would have survived motherhood without my husband by my side:)

KLZ said...

You know, I think this might actually be the only one of these I've read that is actually helpful. Sending to a friend now actually.

Flying Giggles and Lollipops said...

What wonderful advice! Two of my best friends just found out that they are both pregnant and they are both exactly 6 weeks into their pregnancy. It is hilarious because each day, they are full of questions. I joked with them to both write down their questions and every other day we will have a conference call.

Chelsea said...

Stopping by from SITS. Thanks for the advice! I'm 6 months pregnant and there is SO much I feel like I don't know. I'm sure it will all come with time.

Mrs Gloves said...

Two thumbs up on this post, especially the "Don't Lose Yourself."

...stopping by from SITS...

Kira said...

I agree with the forget your ideal. When I realized that I could change my attitude or lose my mind, things suddenly got a lot easier. Was I still up all night? Yup. But looking at it from a "this too shall pass" standpoint really helped.

Now when I'm up in the middle of the night with my son I marvel at home much he's grown in a year, I take in his little crevices, the feeling of his warm toes on my belly as he snuggles in and hazily goes "mamma? nana?" I wouldn't trade these late night nurse-a-thons for anything even if I am zonkered in the morning. :-)

Just Like June

Fresh Mommy said...

YES, yes, yes... and especially that last one. Forget all your perfect ideas and go with it. I think that's what makes the second time around easier, you don't rely on what all your ideas are, and you realize you don't need so much stuff! Ha. Great post :)


Kristi said...

I love your points of advice because they are all so true and not ones that I covered in my own post to expecting mothers about those first three months of being a mom. You can "Dear Expecting Mom: Good luck & god speed" here:

Bonnie said...

Wow, I needed to hear that. My son is 6 months old and I still have "mommy guilt." It's slowly getting better, but I still beat myself up over all of the things I'm not getting right.

If there is any advice I would give a new mom, it would be to let your baby eat paper. Well, not literally. I love to give in to my son's curiosity. I'm teaching him how to pet the cats and dogs and he just loves reaching out to touch them. I let him have a piece of paper or a plastic bag while I supervise him. I let him touch everything (within reason). It makes him so much more aware and curious about the world around him.

Marie said...

Wow I don't have kids but it seems like you should just enjoy it and not worry too much about the stuff....My Mom didn't have it and I turned out okay. ;)

Morgan said...

Such good advice ... especially that last one. If we let go of the ideals ... we enjoy the reality of mommyhood so much more.

Visiting from SITS ... enjoy your day! :)

Angie said...

Happy SITS day! I'm sorry that I'm late.

As a fairly new mom I can say that I REALLY appreciate posts like these. Thanks! I'm going to send my expecting friend your way.

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