Are you pregnant and a first time mommy to be? Parenthood can feel overwhelming. Get the practical advice for first time moms you need to hear.
First time moms have it hard. We enter a life-changing stage without knowing what we’re getting ourselves into. As much as we try to prepare, only in meeting our babies for the first time do we truly understand the challenges and joys of parenting.
If there was ever a “learn on the job” kind of job, parenthood would be it.
Practical advice for first time moms
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Still, that doesn’t mean we enter motherhood blindly. And what better way than to follow the advice of other moms, especially with avoiding the mistakes they felt they made.
Below are several tips I and fellow moms I spoke with would love to share with first time moms.
One of the best practices pregnant women can do for their unborn child is to relax, says John Medina, biologist and author of Brain Rules for Baby.
It’s ironic how tempting it is to stress so much during the time when we should be resting instead.
Why are rest and relaxing so important? Resting allows your body to do what it needs to do right now: create your baby. Adding unnecessary stress can increase complications you might have been able to avoid.
So don’t stress, particularly during the first trimester, when we worry especially about what can go wrong. Focus instead on following your doctor’s instructions and listening to your body.
Sleep. Yes, even when the baby is asleep.
Most of us hear—and even roll our eyes—at 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.
If you still feel inclined to get things done while the baby naps, cut yourself a compromise: Tell yourself you’ll spend half the time doing a task, and the other half catching up on sleep. Or, allow yourself one task that’s driving you crazy, and leave the rest for another time.
Life will be different.
Everyone tells you how different life would be, but I just didn’t get it. 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.
A big hurdle you’ll have to overcome is accepting that life will be different with a baby. Household maintenance and self-care standards will have to wait for now. But don’t worry—life will go back to normal, just not right away.
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 he relied on. I then learned the eat-awake-sleep routine 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.
Keeping track of all your baby’s latest feedings and diaper changes can feel overwhelming. Get a convenient way to track feeding and diaper times with my FREE printable tracker! Download it below:
Don’t freak out when your baby doesn’t meet milestones.
Now with three kids, I can attest that each child develops 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.
No doubt, we all want our kids to hit those milestones like clockwork. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way, so when that inevitable milestone is missed, don’t worry. The first thing you should do? Ask your doctor what steps you can take—if any—to help your baby. Otherwise, it’s often a matter of time before your baby catches.
Your doctor will let you know if there’s a problem. Don’t worry too much just because your baby falls short, especially when you hear other babies meeting milestones left and right. Take it from me: everything I worried about eventually sorted itself out.
Be where you need to be.
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 the next stage, hoping it’d be easier than the current one. With the twins, I wasn’t in so much of a rush.
Why? I knew that the difficulties and challenges would eventually end.
Feeling sleep deprived with twins wasn’t easy, but I also knew, from having my first, that it was temporary. So were tantrums, and the frustration of getting your baby to nap, and feeling tied to your baby 24/7.
It will all end, at some point. And while I never cherished sleep deprivation, I also gave myself permission to be in the moment. I released the burden of trying to make parenthood easier and instead accepted it for what it is, challenges and everything.
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.
Your social life won’t be the same—you won’t get together as often as before you had a baby. And date nights with your partner can be few and far between. But even those brief and infrequent moments can help recharge and remind you of life beyond parenthood.
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?
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 parenting business, sleep-deprived and everything.
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