Congratulations! You just had a baby! Simply put, your life will never be the same. I don’t think you can fully explain, or even really understand, what it is like to be a new mom until it happens to you. Having a baby is a game changer.
The best new-baby card I ever got simply said, “And now … you know.” I didn’t know that I could ever love someone so much until I had my first baby.
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I also didn’t know my progesterone level would go from 200 to 2 in one day. Talk about emotional! I think what people do not tell you is that having a new baby is really hard. It’s hard physically, mentally and emotionally. The most important thing you can do is take care of yourself, so you can take care of your newborn and your family. It is normal to be emotional right after having a baby, but talk to your doctor about postpartum depression if your feelings are more severe or persistent.
Set small goals. I would consider a day successful if I got to sleep, eat and take a shower. Let your partner or a loved one take care of the baby for a few minutes so you can take a shower or lay down for a few quiet moments. Another favorite saying of mine is, “Sleep when the baby sleeps, eat when the baby eats, and do laundry when the baby does laundry.” Household chores can wait, or better yet, be assigned to someone else. Let your family and friends help with cooking and cleaning so you can focus on your newborn.
Make time for yourself and for your new family to adjust. Don’t be afraid to tell visitors to wait a week, or even two, to see the baby. Turn off your phone and take a family nap. Take some downtime to just be with each other and enjoy your precious new creation. And don’t forget, if visitors are coming over to your house there are a few rules: 1) Wash your hands before you touch the baby, 2) Do not come over if you are sick, and 3) They should bring you dinner, or do a load of laundry.
Breastfeeding should be natural, but it can be so difficult. Getting started is the hardest part, and that’s when you need the most support. Breastfeeding is a learned skill for mom and baby, and most new moms need help and time to adjust. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it, and seek advice from your pediatrician or lactation consultant.
Being a parent means making a lot of tough choices. You’re going to get advice on parenting from everyone you ever knew, and people you’ve never met! Believe in yourself and the decisions you have made, whether that is your child’s name, breastfeeding, vaccination or returning to work. You’ll never really be prepared for having a new baby — it’s on the job training!
Most importantly, remember that this is your journey. Try your best not to compare your baby to your friend’s baby, or to your sister’s baby, or to your neighbor’s baby. Every baby and every mom are different, and each has their own journey to travel. Enjoy every moment of this beautiful time. Welcome to parenthood!