So you’re about to become a mom. Congratulations! There is nothing more rewarding and wonderful than being a mother. During my first pregnancy, I had such a mix of emotions. I was so excited to meet my baby and scared shitless about whether I would be a good mother. Almost 4 years later, the firstborn is still thriving and I’ve managed to survive with the new one for 6 months so I guess I’m doing okay! Here are 5 tips that I wish someone would have told me on how to survive the first year of motherhood.
1.) Don’t overthink.
When you’re a brand new parent, minor things can seem major. I’ve been there. I get it. However. every weird, off-putting, “oh my goodness, is that NORMAL?!” event is not the end of the world. For example, it is perfectly normal for newborn girls to bleed from their lady bits and it’s also normal for baby boys to get erections. (Nobody ever told me this. I have a girl and a boy. I freaked on both occasions.) That said, you’re the mama. If something doesn’t feel right and those instincts kick in, listen to them.
2.) Ask for help.
Ever heard the phrase “it takes a village to raise a child”? Yea, that’s true. If you have people in your life that you trust, ASK THEM OR ACCEPT THEIR OFFERS TO HELP. You will be exhausted. You will be in need of a hot shower and decent food. Please don’t think less of yourself for needing or wanting help. You deserve it! With my firstborn, I had help when I needed it. With my 2nd, i haven’t had much and it has made a huge difference. Seriously woman, accept the generosity of people while you can. Babies do not remain sweet, immobile creatures forever. They evolve. Another phrase you may have heard is “terrible 2’s.” You’ve been warned.
3.) Sleep when baby sleeps.
Oh, you’ve heard this one before? You think that it’s impossible because you have a million other things to do around the house when baby sleeps? I thought the same but none of them are priority. SLEEP. This tip is golden. Trust me, if or when you have baby #2, YOU WILL CURSE THE DAYS you didn’t sleep when baby slept. You won’t be able to when you have a toddler to tend to. For the love of God people, sleep! And then take a nap for me.
4.) Don’t sweat the remarks and stand your ground.
This. This right here. Not everyone parents the same way. There will always be someone who disagrees with you. Does your mother-in-law constantly belittle your parenting style? Has Cousin Fran accused you of being a bad parent for co-sleeping? Again, YOU ARE MOTHER. With your child, your way is law. That’s it. End of story. Calmly let them know how you feel and if they persist? Tell them exactly where they can shove that piece of advice. *Hint* It’s a place we Southerners like to call, “where the sun don’t shine.”
5.) Feed your child however the hell you want to.
In today’s society, you are shamed for nursing. You are shamed for formula feeding. You’re shamed for using donor milk or combo-feeding. JUST FEED YO’ BABY HOW YOU CAN. I went into nursing the first time with such an optimistic, “my body was made for this”, attitude. I was in for a rude awakening. It was HARD. When i finally felt like i was getting the hang of things, I was given a medication for gallstones that dried my milk in just over 1 day. I knew nothing of relactation and I was absolutely devastated. I felt like a failure as a mother. Wan’t I supposed to be able to do this with no issues? Guess what? My now 3 year old daughter is perfectly healthy. Would breast milk have been better for her? Sure! But that was not an option for me and she thrived on her formula.
With my 2nd child, I knew what to expect and was determined to make it at least 6 months breastfeeding. If I failed, I made a promise that I wouldn’t be so hard on myself this time. At his 3 month checkup, he wasn’t thriving like he should have been. I started supplementing with formula and pumping and he’s right on track now at 6 months. I am so proud of my journey and lessons learned with both of my babes, one formula and one combination fed. This tip coincides with #4. Don’t sweat the remarks and stand your ground. If your child is fed, thriving and healthy then you’re doing an awesome job, mama!
I hope these tips have eased your mind some. The first year of parenthood is only the first year to overcome. Every stage of childhood brings new joy and new worry but there is one constant: women have managed to birth and raise their children for thousands of years. You’ve got this!