First time moms have it hard. You’re entering a life-changing stage without knowing what you’re getting yourself into. If there was ever a “learn on the job” kind of job, the challenges of parenthood would be it.
So we do our best to make up for the overnight changes. We remember practical advice from fellow moms. Below are lessons I wish I knew as a first time mom:
Practical advice for first time moms
According to Brain Rules for Baby by biologist and author John Medina, one of the best practices pregnant women can do for their unborn child is to relax. So don’t stress, particularly during the first trimester.
Sleep. Yes, even when the baby is asleep.
Most first time moms bemoan the common advice of “sleep when the baby sleeps.” I get that. After all, when else are you able to get anything done when the rest of your time you’re holding a baby? I hardly napped when my baby did, which led to some serious sleep deprivation.
Granted, I clocked in a full eight hours at night. But because my sleep was always interrupted, the eight hours felt more like four. Any opportunity to sleep would have helped.
Life will be different.
A big hurdle I had to overcome was accepting that life would be different with a baby. Household maintenance and self-care standards would have to wait for now.
Everyone tells you how different life would be, but I just didn’t get it. But I didn’t know just how much (or maybe wasn’t prepared to make those sacrifices so suddenly). For some insane reason I thought I could still keep up with my weekly chores and take my time getting ready. I had to put those needs aside and trust others when they said I would have more time—just not right now.
Keep your baby’s awake time to a minimum.
While you don’t have to stick to a strict schedule, having some sort of rhythm and flow is helpful. Looking back, I kept my baby awake way too long, contributing to his fussiness. I only learned much later that babies don’t stay awake for longer than an hour to an hour and a half at a time.
If your baby has been up five hours entertaining guests, it’s time to make her sleep a priority and have her rest. You’ll also create a routine by reminding yourself to put her down more often.
Follow the eat-awake-sleep rhythm.
I nursed my baby to sleep but soon ran into a major problem. Like swaddling and rocking, nursing was yet another sleeping aid that he relied on. I then learned the eat-awake-sleep rhythm and decided to try it. Rather than nursing my baby to sleep, I would nurse him when he woke up.
After eating, he would begin his play time with plenty of energy. Then once he had enough play time (not too long!), we would put him down to sleep. And once he woke up, then we would begin the cycle and nurse once again.
Psst… First time moms, I also created this feeding and diaper tracker that’s yours free:
Don’t freak out when your baby doesn’t meet milestones.
Now with three kids, I can attest that each one developed differently. For instance, one walked at 10 months, the other at a year and still another at about 14 months. The same goes for other milestones, like talking, rolling over or jumping. Your child’s doctor will let you know if you have a problem. Otherwise, all kids develop at different rates.
Enjoy the moment.
One difference between my first-born and my twins is how much I wanted to move on to the next milestone. With my first, I kept rushing to see if or when he’s hit certain milestones. With the twins, I wasn’t in so much of a rush. Don’t worry about trying to get to the next phase. They’ll only be little for a brief time!
Carve out time for your other relationships.
Nearly every first time mom has thrown herself head first into caring for her child. But you have other relationships as well—with yourself and your partner, family and friends. Don’t be too consumed with child care that you don’t take care of yourself and your relationships.
My biggest advice:
They don’t kid when they say every baby is different, and what works for one may not work for another. So, my biggest advice?
Be kind to yourself.
We’re always learning as we go along and make many mistakes as we do. Things won’t always be perfect. While weeks and months seem eons away, your days will get better. You’ll adjust to motherhood, and your newborn won’t be so new anymore.
And you’ll find that you’re getting the hang of this first time mom business, sleep-deprived and everything.
Get more useful tips for first time moms:
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