[Editor’s note: This basically took me 3 weeks to write, and I’m presently putting the finishing touches on it instead of taking a nap while baby naps. #priorities, right? And for fun, I’m also going to narrate a few of the behind-the-scenes that happen as I’m editing this post. I hope you enjoy!]
This weekend is my first ever Mother’s Day. I’ve been experiencing motherhood for almost 6 weeks now, and honestly, in a way, I feel like an imposter being a part of the mothers day celebration. Because really, who am I compared to the way more experienced mothers- like my own mom, who has been a GOD SEND the past 6 weeks- who have raised kids to adulthood?
However, I realized that I have actually learned a thing or two in my first few weeks of motherhood. And just as I’m all about educating and speaking the truth about weddings, I want to have the same approach when it comes to mom life. Plus, I have several friends who will also be embarking on this motherhood journey soon, and I want to share this info with them, so what better way than with a blog post? So in celebration of my first Mother’s Day, I give you a few of the things that I learned in my first weeks of motherhood… aka what I wish I had already known. [Baby stirring while napping- everyone hold your breath that it doesn’t come with screams and open eyes.]
Images by Brittany Bishop Photography
Let me preface all of this by admitting that I was a horrible pregnant girl. I didn’t watch any movies or read any books about babies or parenting. I did some research, but to be honest, the majority of my time was spent prepping my business for maternity leave (which still didn’t fare well, since baby decided to come 2 weeks early!).
Breastfeeding… if you’re like me, you might think that it’s going to be easy. It’s a natural process, right? Well, it might not be all rainbows and butterflies- and that’s okay. Here are a few of the things that I’ve learned and wish I had known about breastfeeding:
– Tongue ties are actually quite common. Don’t think that you’re a failure if your baby ends up having one.
– You must eat and drink (water, water, water!) consistently! You are the nutrient provider for someone else, so you need to keep your own nutrients going!
– Everyone talks about your milk “coming in”. I kept waiting for some special feeling and stressed way too much about it. I never felt anything… as it turns out, not everyone “feels” it, so just know that!
– Your milk supply is based on demand, so basically the more baby eats, the more milk you will make. A good trick to increase your supply and get your milk to come in is to pump after baby nurses. I myself had a little delay with my milk coming in, and adding in pumping, plus taking a supplement and drinking this tea really helped.
– It’s hard for baby to eat too much. If it feels like your baby is constantly eating, it’s for a reason- likely a growth spurt or to increase your supply.
– This pumping bra is awesome.
– Cluster feeding… when the baby won’t stop eating, and you’re stuck on the couch for what feels like days (but is really just quite a few consecutive hours of a day/evening). Be prepared for it, and make sure you have all of your supplies within your reach. I created what I called a “battle station”, complete with pillows, water, snacks, phone charger, and remote.
No one every really talks about how YOU will feel in the days and weeks after giving birth, and I was not prepared for it. Giiiiirl. First it’s exhaustion. Then it’s soreness- which can be from tearing, the catheter if you had one, hemorrhoids, retaining fluid, and just plain pushing a baby’s head out of your hooha. Not to mention that you’re likely sitting A TON, and it’s really not the most comfortable. I was SO uncomfortable those first 2 weeks, and it definitely didn’t help the next thing I’ll mention. BUT, the good news is, it will go away, and you’ll start to feel a little more normal, and like the new mom you are! My recommendations for getting through this time are an ice pack, witch hazel pads, a peri bottle, and this spray. And also, look up “padsicles”, make them, and have them ready in your freezer!
The hormones the first few weeks are real. If you find yourself crying over nothing (for me, I couldn’t sing my baby a certain song without crying), overwhelmed, or a little sad, it very well could be the hormones. I didn’t realize it at the time, but looking back now, that is absolutely what it was.
It’s okay if you’re overwhelmed. This is a whole new world, for both you and her and your spouse. Give one other grace, take deep breaths, and keep in mind that there really isn’t always a right or wrong way to do things.
Speaking of right or wrong way… approach everything as trial and error. What works one day might not work the next, but regardless, try it out and see if it does work!
Read THIS article. Just do it.
With everything, keep in mind that baby is new to this world. Try to make things as close to the womb as possible for the first few weeks. The light, air, clothes, eating… everything is new! Which also means that your baby is going to cry… because it’s the only way he or she can communicate with you! If your baby is crying, run through your list of possible reasons (hungry, dirty diaper, tired, just wants to be close to you, wants to be moving, etc.) and hopefully one of them will work!
Take any help you can get! If friends or family ask you for they can help, have a mental list going- or better yet, make an actual list on your phone or a written list you keep on your fridge. Meals are a great idea for the first few weeks, and you may need help cleaning up your house, doing laundry, getting groceries, etc. Because everything that was the norm for you before is going to be a little harder to get done now.
You think you’ll have time to do things when the baby sleeps… but sometimes she won’t sleep and you won’t be able to put her down (hence why it’s taken me weeks to actually write this post). And yes, you will need at least one nap a day to not feel like a zombie!
You’ll be doing a lot of things one-handed. I personally am on my phone a lot, and I’ve found that a keyboard app, Swipe, helps a lot (if you have an iPhone)! In fact, I wrote the majority of this post using it! And go hands free and start baby wearing as soon as you can!
A newborn isn’t going to sleep through the night. This was something that I knew, but had to come to terms with. They may sleep fine one way one night, and hate it the next. Babies are constantly evolving, growing, and changing. Just do whatever it takes for them to sleep- and remember, supposedly habits aren’t quite being formed yet in the early months. (The Auto Rock ‘n Play Sleeper and Dockatot have both been helpful for our swaddle-hating baby!)
A comfortable chair is a must have for night feedings- because most of the time you’ll either fall asleep or baby won’t sleep any other way. (Editing this to add… cosleeping might be your saving grace. I know it’s frowned upon, but we just started, and I now feel like a whole new woman, getting hours of consecutive, comfortable sleep in my own bed.)
And, that’s about all I have thus far, on the afternoon of May 12th. I’m sure there will be many more lessons and tidbits in the future, so this won’t be the last post like this! [Holy crap, I got through this post without baby waking up?!] [Spoke too soon… went back to add more to the post and baby woke up. Writing this and then publishing using one hand!]