I’ve compiled what every mom needs to know about motherhood because these are the things I wish I would have known when I had my first baby. Becoming a mom was one of the best moments of my life and being a mom is one of my absolute biggest blessings. But as the name of the blog implies, being a mom is also insanely busy and difficult. The best things in life don’t come easy and that’s true of motherhood too. I’ve created this post to encourage you and let you know that other moms are out there feeling the same way you do!
This post is all about what every new mom needs to know when heading into the chaotic beauty of motherhood.
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What Every New Mom Needs to Know
1. It may take time to bond with your baby...and that's okay!
When I was pregnant with my first, every single mom I knew would describe in vivid details the euphoria that they felt when their baby was placed on their chest for the first time. I heard it time and time again and I looked forward to that moment for myself. But, it didn’t happen for me. To be honest, I barely remember that moment. I remember the exhaustion and the struggle to keep my eyes open. I remember the shock that this baby was really mine and I remember being flooded with equal parts love and fear when I thought about being a mom to that very small human. I had no idea what was ahead or how to keep this little human alive.
After not getting my euphoric moment, I spent the next two days in the hospital assuming that I was already a bad mom. I assumed that something was wrong with me. That assumption came home with me from the hospital and sat in the back of my mind for months. But, guess what…I love my son beyond all belief and any description of love. So, after that, here is what every mom needs to know. It took me some time to adjust and it might for you too! Whether you get that euphoric moment right away or it takes you some time to bond with your baby, that’s okay!
2. Breastfeeding is a learning process
Breastfeeding is both wonderful for nourishing your baby and bonding with them. But, I can tell you, that breastfeeding doesn’t feel too “wonderful” at first. What every mom needs to know about breastfeeding…well it’s one of those things that is totally natural but does not come so naturally. It will be a learning process for both of you. My son was tongue-tied when he was born, meaning that his tongue could not reach far enough out to nurse. Rather than sucking, he bit me… a lot.
I talked to every nurse and lactation consultant I could and I wanted to give up before I had even left the hospital. But, I didn’t and it got easier. I promise, it will get easier. In fact, I have grown to love nursing. It is a unique bond that is somehow indescribable. I’ve actually written an article on “35 Breastfeeding Tips for New Moms,” which goes through everything I have learned and wish someone would have told me!
3. Give yourself 6 months
I remember nine month pregnant me thinking that I would be back to my pre-pregnancy self in no time once that little human was out of me. Which, left me slightly frustrated when my jeans didn’t fit two weeks after I had given birth. The baby was gone, so why in the world wouldn’t my jeans fit?! But, the reality is, your body has undergone some crazy stuff for the past nine months and it needs some time. Give your body rest until you are cleared by your doctor and then simply be consistent with healthy eating and exercise. It will all pay off. Be patient with yourself.
I didn’t truly feel myself again until I was about six months postpartum. That may sound like a long time, but when you think about that fact that you MADE A HUMAN, it’s not long at all! So, when you feel like being hard on yourself and your body, look at the beautiful little miracle that it created and appreciate your body for all the work it has done. What every mom needs to know and remember about their body is that their body is beautiful, powerful, and life giving!
4. It's not a competition
Don’t let comparison steal your joy! Your baby is not in a national competition to be the first to crawl or walk among their friends or be the cutest baby on the block. Your husband is not in a competition to get up the most to help with the baby during the night or help with the most house work. You are not in a competition to be the best mom of your friend group. Your goal should be to simply be the best mom that you can be for your child. Every child is different, every mom is different, and every family is different.
5. You will miss this stage when it's gone...no matter how tired or miserable it feels
Trace Adkins hits home what every mom needs to know about the newborn stage. So, in the words of Trace Adkins, “You’re gonna miss this, you’re gonna want this back. You’re gonna wish these days hadn’t gone by so fast. These are some good times, so take a good look around. You may not know it now, but you’re gonna miss this.” I truly cannot think of a better way to describe being a new mom. There are so many days that you feel absolutely exhausted and overwhelmed, but months later you will wish you could go back.
These truly are good times, so take time to remember every little thing. Fight the temptation to get on your phone while you are nursing or go clean instead of cuddle (see #6). I know I would often find myself on my phone or thinking about other things when I was nursing or rocking my baby to sleep and one day I said to myself, “I don’t want to forget these moments, I want to remember every detail.” So, I set the phone down, I ignored the dirty dishes, and we sat and rocked while I took in the sight, smells, and sounds. I will hold those in my heart forever.
6. Ignore the house and embrace the cuddles
Before I had my first, everyone told me to cuddle and ignore the cleaning. But, if you showed up at my house during naptime, you would see a woman running around like a chicken with it’s head cut off in an attempt to clean, fold the laundry, and get dinner going before he woke back up. So, now I can tell you what everyone told me, don’t do it. Ignore your house and enjoy those sweet moments with your newborn. I regret it so much and I don’t want you to regret it too.
7. Have no expectations for the first 2 months
Disappointments and frustrations are a result of our expectations for a situation. When it comes to being a new mom and having a new born, new moms often set expectations for sleep, breastfeeding, going out, etc. I did it to. You think you can set the schedule and the baby will follow it. Unfortunately, what every mom needs to know about schedules is that your baby doesn’t care at all about your schedule. Babies are unpredictable and setting these expectations leaves you even more frustrated and tired. Allow your baby to set the schedule for the first two months and then begin to adjust and find a rhythm. It will help you avoid a lot of frustration.
8. Remember that babies are portable
While going out may look a little different with a little one, having a baby doesn’t mean you can’t get out of the house. Going out takes a little more planning ahead with a little one, but it is completely doable! Invest in an Ergobaby carrier and go shopping, on a walk, out for a coffee, or on a hike with friends. Getting out is great for your mental health too!
9. No one is truly prepared to be a new mom
This is meant to ease your mind, not scare you! There are so many parents who are waiting “to be ready for kids.” Then, once pregnant, they are searching for every piece of information that they can find to prepare themselves as a mom. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s great to read up on different birthing and parenting ideas (hopefully you’ll do so a little on my site ;)). I did it too. But, you also have to accept that you cannot be fully prepared.
Being a mother is one of those that you learn that you learn as you go. Every child is different and things that they internet swears by, may not work for you. That doesn’t mean that anything is wrong with you or your child. Keep trying different things. You will find what works best for you along the way. So, what every mom needs to know about preparing for motherhood is simply the fact that you were made for this! Motherhood brings out strength you didn’t even know you had!
10. Ask your friends and family for help
Don’t feel bad looking to your friends and family for a little help when you are overwhelmed. In fact, this is exactly what you should do! There will be times when you have tried everything, you’re exhausted, and you’re frustrated. In that moment, it is best for you and your baby if you ask your husband, a friend, or a family member to come give you a break. While you would never ever want to hurt your child, you do not want to do something to harm your child out of anger and sleep deprivation. Plus, I guarantee your friends and family would love to be there for you and your little one.
11. Go into labor with goals, NOT expectations
When I was pregnant for the first time, I listened to every podcast and every YouTube video about natural labors in existence. This can be helpful, but it can become a sticky situation if you let other people’s birth stories dictate yours. In order to not put extra unnecessary stress on yourself during labor, go in with goals for yourself rather than expectations.
Your goal may be to have no pain medication. But, if you do, that absolutely does not make you a bad mom. Your goal may be no epidural, but if you end up with one, that does not make you a bad mom either. Labor is different for everyone and you can’t know what yours will be like until you are in the middle of it. Allow yourself some grace and some flexibility. You are pushing out a baby, don’t be so hard on yourself.
12. Take an Extra Set of YOUR Clothes and babies clothes with you when you're out and about
I knew from the start that I should bring an extra set of baby clothes with me in my diaper bag when I went places. But, what I learned along the way was that I also needed extra clothes! I highly suggest leaving an extra outfit in your car for those times that you get spit up on or pooped on in public. You’ll thank me later.
13. It's okay if your baby likes one parent over the other
As a newborn, my son only ever wanted me if he was hungry. I was simply his open bar. The rest of the time, he wanted his daddy. I was laying in the hospital bed thinking, “I pushed you out and this is the thanks I get.” But, if this is you too, do your best to enjoy watching your husband cuddle with your baby (It is pretty darn precious). There is no use in being jealous!
Your baby will go through phases where they like one parent more than the other and that’s okay! Right now, him and I are best buds. But next week, he might want daddy again. So, go with the flow, enjoy the sweet moments daddy has with the kids, and enjoy the break too! And if things are reversed with your newborn and he isn’t a big fan of daddy, let your husband know that his time to shine will come too.
14. It's okay to do things differently than your friends, parents, or in-laws expect you to
One of the hardest things about having a baby is drawing the line with friends and family who are trying to tell you how you should be raising your child. I’m not saying it’s all bad. It’s good to ask for help from people who have been there. But also don’t be afraid to speak up for yourself and your child. There are so many good ways to parent children. You don’t have to conform to anyone’s standards. You simply need to find what works best for your family. Be firm, yet gracious and simply let them know that you are doing what you feel is best for your child.
15. Take pictures of your baby with YOU in them too!
I can’t even tell you the number of times I have run out of storage on Google photos since I had my son. I am regularly having to go back through to delete photos so that it keeps saving the ones I am taking. What I realized recently is that I have hundreds of baby photos, maybe 20 of those with me in them, and only a handful of those photos with both me and my husband in the photo. Make sure that you take some with you and your husband too, you will treasure them.
This post was all about what every new mom needs to know so that every mom can find community. I hope I have eased your nerves and helped you feel excited for this new role!