Newborn moms can feel alone or wonder if they’re the only ones going through this. Here’s what I wish people told me about being a new mom.
I thought I was prepared. Realistic, even. I read every baby book I could get my hands on, but overnight, new motherhood hit me hard.
I must be the only one, I thought.
My family and extended relatives with kids all seemed so… normal. I couldn’t imagine how they could lead regular lives when mine felt turned upside down.
“How did you get through it?!” I asked them during a family gathering. I wanted to gauge how difficult they must’ve had it when their kids were newborns.
Even then, I still didn’t think they had it as bad as I did—otherwise they wouldn’t seem so unchanged by parenthood.
And that’s what’s tough when you’re a mommy in the thick of the newborn stage. Down the line, we chuckle and reminisce about the struggles of being a new mom, long after the fact. We safely laugh about it, knowing we’ve crossed over and don’t have to experience those struggles any longer.
Unfortunately, that can leave many new mamas feeling alone, even guilty. A friend of mine admitted she felt terrible for thinking negative thoughts about parenthood. She assumed she was alone in feeling this way, especially when everything you hear about babies seems happy and positive.
What I wish people told me about being a new mom
I don’t deny that parenthood is filled with joyous moments, one many of us look forward to and relish. But being a new mom, especially in those early months, isn’t always so peachy. It can feel more draining than positive.
But that’s okay, mama. To all the new mothers going through those difficult first few weeks and months, this is what I wish for you to know:
1. You’ll have more hard days than easy ones
Those baby photos your friends and family members post on social media can be misleading. You’ll usually see mom and dad smiling and holding their new bundle. We all smile for the camera, after all.
But that’s one second of their new lives with an infant. The camera doesn’t capture all the other moments of exhaustion, sadness, worry, or anxiety. We don’t take photos when the laundry piles up or we’re struggling with breastfeeding.
But they exist, those hard days, and at this stage, more often than the easy ones. At some point, you’ll tip the scales so that soon, and the easy days will outnumber the hard ones. We just need to be patient with ourselves and understand that this is all normal.
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2. Your sleep deprivation is normal
Yes, even when you’re delirious.
You’re not an anomaly because you got a total of three hours of sleep broken up into 20-minute chunks last night. It’s also normal that you weren’t coherent, or that you yelled at your husband for who knows what when the baby jolted you awake.
You may have rocked your new baby to sleep for over an hour, only to lose your temper when he refused to fall asleep (then felt guilty right after for yelling).
Lack of sleep is no joke, but know that you won’t always be this exhausted.
3. Reach out to other moms in the same boat
I’m all about surrounding yourself with moms who can understand what you’re going through. These are also the moms who can offer amazing support and advice and let you know that yes, it does get better.
But what’s even better is to find first-time moms who are still going through the same thing.
As much as every mom understands the difficulties of the newborn stage, it’s not the same when they’re already “in the clear.” It’s like you still can’t relate to any mom who gets to sleep eight hours at night.
Instead, find emotional support from fellow moms in the thick of things right there with you. The one who understands when you talk about gas drops and rocking on a yoga ball because she’s in that same place, too.
4. You don’t have to do everything you used to do
You know all those things you used to do meticulously, like flossing, showering, or even eating well?
It’s okay if you don’t get to do those things for a while. Do your best, but don’t beat yourself up if you don’t vacuum or run errands for several weeks. Your tiny baby and mental health more important than fuzz on a carpet.
I wish I had permitted myself to “be lazy,” especially with household chores. That I didn’t have to wash dishes the minute I placed them in the sink, or that it was okay that I didn’t get the mail four days straight.
It’s a balance of maintaining your old lifestyle and completely neglecting it (that mail will eventually pile up). But you don’t have to hold yourself accountable to the same standards you used to have.
This new role is temporary. At some point, you’ll resume most if not all those habits again, but right now, it’s okay to let a few things go while you ride this new transition.
5. You don’t just “fall back asleep”
When I was pregnant, I made this silly comparison about waking up many times a night to pee as being the same as waking up with a baby. After all, I’d wake up five times a night to pee during those last few months of pregnancy—isn’t that the same thing as waking up with a baby?
Sadly, no. I realized this all too well after I took the baby home. Sure, you wake up five times with a baby, but unlike using the bathroom, you can’t just fall back asleep. Instead, you’re awake for who knows how long, trying to get your baby to fall asleep.
And that was when the reality of sleep deprivation hit me. It wasn’t about waking up many times—it was having to be awake until the baby falls back asleep first.
That puts a lot of pressure on both you and your baby when your sleep depends on how quickly you can get him to sleep back in the crib.
So, accept this as the new norm, at least for a little bit longer. Find your sleep in other parts of the day, like when the baby naps.
I don’t think anything can prepare you completely for being a new mom. Look at me—I did my research, I was optimistic, and I prepared. But I do think every little bit helps. I imagine how different it would’ve been for me without that preparation.
That includes hearing what I’d like you to know about being a new mom. That you’ll feel tired beyond belief, including the inability to focus on sleep. That you should reach out to fellow moms, especially those who are in the same boat as you.
And that it’s okay to not do the things you used to do because you’ll go back to them in due time.
Motherhood is hard, and you’ll likely have more hard days than easy ones. But give yourself grace and know that you’re not alone. Every mom you see smiling with her toddler has gone through what you’re going through right now.
We just don’t always have the pictures to show it.
Get more tips:
- Newborn Tips and Tricks for New Moms You’ll Be Glad You Read
- 12 Crucial Rules for Visiting a New Mom
- How to Establish a Baby Nighttime Routine
- Is Your Baby Nursing for an Hour and Still Hungry?
- 5 Ideas to Help Your Catnapping Baby Sleep Longer
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