Nothing can fully prepare you to be a brand new mom.
It’s really like the plot of a bad joke: you spend a few days in the hospital in a state of hormonal and sleep-deprived shock where they inundate you with information and advice that you’re supposed to remember and on which a brand new person’s life depends.
Then they send you home . . . with the baby! No pressure, right?
As a new mom, I remember wanting to have just SOME idea of what I was getting into and a little bit of sound advice and encouragement. So for all you other brand new moms out there, here are the best 5 Nuggets of Advice & Encouragement that I got as a new mom:
1. Trust your instinct. You’re going to be the one who knows what’s best for your baby.
If I could give one piece of advice to a new mom, this would be it. Sure, you haven’t done this before, but we’re built to be mothers. It’s programmed in us. And millions of mothers have raised millions of babies prior to this information-overload age. You are your kid’s mom. You know that kiddo better than the old lady at church, the grandma at the grocery store, your well-intentioned-but-overly-opinionated-friend, or anyone else. Trust that.
2. Don’t unwrap all the gifts.
This one sounds silly, but I wish I had listened to it. I was basking in all my bloated glory at nearly 9 months pregnant when my friend came over to help me unpack all the baby shower gifts. She had just had her first baby 3 months before. I’m sitting on the couch and she says, “Are you sure you want me to unwrap all these muslin blankets?” What kind of silly question is that? Of course, if someone gave me 35+ muslin swaddles then I must need them all, right!? NOPE. Here’s my sage advice: unwrap one of each thing and save the rest until you know if you’re going to need it. Then you can take extras back and get something you really need (like diapers) instead! Otherwise, it just takes up space.
3. The house is going to go to the pits . . . And that’s OK.
I was sitting with the lactation consultant for the umpteenth time when she gave me a laundry list of things I needed to do to improve the baby’s latch. I was feeling overwhelmed and was on the verge of tears. “But if I have to do all these things, when am I going to accomplish anything else? Like cleaning the house or doing the laundry?” She looked at me like I was crazy, “Honey, you just have to be OK with your housework falling by the wayside. Your job right now is to love on your baby. The house can wait.” I think this one has been the hardest for me to learn. A messy house stresses me out, but she was right. Especially in those first couple of months, your job is to love the baby, keep him/her alive, and let yourself heal. Everything else can wait.
4. It really does take a village.
I’d like to think of myself as a pretty self-sufficient person. My pride doesn’t like me to ask for help, especially when it’s something I should be able to do on my own. Sister, throw that “should” out the window. If someone who knows and loves you offers help, TAKE IT. Not everyone is fortunate enough to have a strong support system, but if you are one of those lucky ones, then take the help. Let someone bring you dinner, clean your bathrooms, walk the dog, or hold the baby while you sleep for a couple of hours. If the village offers help, don’t say no.
5. Get a Nose Frida.
No, you don’t need tons of gadgets to raise a baby, but some of them are pure GENIUS. The Nose Frida is one of them. Yes, it’s a way for you to physically suck boogers out of your infant’s nose. Sounds gross, right? It is, and it is 100% worth it.
But that’s just my two cents. It’s incredible how much advice you will get as a new mom, invited and uninvited. Sometimes with that much information, it’s hard to sort through it all especially because not all advice is good advice. The kids we raise are all shockingly different, and what works for one kid (or worked for some grandma 100 years ago) may not suit your situation, need, or child. It’s a cliché, but not all kids are the same! Filter through all those opinions, because that’s just what they are: opinions. Keep the good, throw out the bad, and trust your instinct.
So tell me, what was the best advice you got as a new mom?
Originally published July 2017.