Monday, June 6, 2016

REAL Advice for New Moms

So you've had a baby! Congratulations, the hard part is over!

Ha! Totally kidding. The fun is just beginning.

I'm definitely back in New-Mom Mode. Sleepless, yoga-pants wearing, coffee-chugging, messy hair, what the heck is for dinner, New-Mom Mode.

But I'm not alone. I know of at least ten babies born in the last month, with a few others on the horizon, many of them babies to first time moms. So I'm here to let you in on the secrets. The REAL tricks of the trade. NOT the "sleep when they sleep" or "don't worry about any housework" advice that isn't really practical. 

1. Breastfeeding. AKA: Give your boobs up to your baby. If you are breastfeeding, first of all make sure you have nipple pads and breast shields like these (they allow your nipples to dry out without rubbing up against any clothing.) Use the shields while you aren't feeding baby for the first few days, until the tenderness dies down and then start using the pads.

I've heard so many times that if you are doing it right, breastfeeding shouldn't hurt. I'm here to tell you that is BULL. I'm on baby number three and the first two weeks of every child was simple toe-curling every time they latched on. But as long as there aren't any cracks or blood you are probably doing it right. HANG IN THERE! The pain will be gone in a couple of weeks and in six weeks or so you'll be a pro. If you are worried, though, get in touch with a lactation consultant.

In the hospital they tell you baby should eat every three hours. What they mean is AT LEAST every three hours. I know of so many people who try to make their baby make it the whole three hours. But it's totally normal if they want to eat every hour or two. Just give in. My husband used to drive me crazy telling me "the baby is hungry" every time one of the kids made a peep. When I told him to stand up and sway with the baby he said, "this is only working because he thinks he is on the way to your boob." But you know what? One evening I gave into William and fed him three times in about 2 hours. I was thinking NO WAY can he still be hungry by the last round. But you know what? He passed out after the last feeding and SLEPT THE WHOLE GLORIOUS NIGHT. So if your baby is crying don't be afraid to just stick your boob in their mouth.

When I was breastfeeding Henry, he would always pass out after one boob (you are supposed to try and get both boobs into each feeding.) So since then, my routine has been first boob, burp, diaper change, second boob, burp. Not many babies will sleep through a cold wipe to the tush.

2. Do your Kiegels. Yep I'm going there. I read in some pregnancy book about the importance of Kiegels, so I did them all through my pregnancies. But then after the baby came, I totally forgot about them. Don't forget about them! Do a set every time you breastfeed. Also you should Kiegel any time you are exerting pressure. This includes: coughing, sneezing, lifting baby, lifting anything, standing up, etc. You can thank me later when you aren't peeing yourself, and all your lady bits go back to where they should be.

And speaking of peeing yourself. For nine months you were likely peeing every five minutes, and with a giant baby kicking you in the bladder it probably felt like you had to all the time. After you have the baby, you may not get the "have to pee" feeling back right away. So make sure you go pee before you feel like you have to go, or you may risk peeing your pants. An easy way to remember is to just go every time you feed baby.

3. Do the housework. I know this sounds ridiculous and is the last thing on your mind. But if you don't do a little bit of housework, you'll wake up in two weeks to a mountain of laundry and a kitchen counter covered in dishes and then you'll be more stressed out. So I like to complete at least one housekeeping task every day. This can be something small (one load of laundry or emptying the dishwasher) but even one chore a day for the first week will really help. I was actually talking to my sister-in-law about this the other day, and she set the same rule for herself. It's amazing how a load of laundry will make you feel more human and less zombie again.

4. Six weeks to heal. The flip side of doing housework is DON'T OVERDO IT! You may feel great, but your body needs to heal, so please rest as much as much as you can-- even if that just means laying in bed while holding baby and watching Netflix.

5. Postpartum Depression. Did you know that postpartum depression isn't just depression? It covers a whole range of things. After each of my babies I would have some crazy anxiety over things I couldn't control. There were moments where I felt like I would jump out of my skin-- where every cell in my body felt like it was buzzing. Having a doctor tell me that was normal was enough to get me through. But don't be afraid to talk to someone or get a perscription if you feel things are getting out of control!

6. Get out of the house everyday. This is SO important! Staring at your little one all day is amazing, don't get me wrong. But don't forget about the big, beautiful world outside your door. Even if it's just a walk to the mailbox at first, or having your morning coffee on your deck... get some fresh air mama! You'll soon graduate to a trip to the library, or even better... your first play date!

7. Make some mom-friends. Speaking of play dates. You know who can relate to every little crazy thing you are feeling? Other moms! Find a few Mommy-friends also with new babies (there are lots of mom groups on Facebook or Meetup, if you don't know anyone else.)

A bestie you can text any time with things like, "On our way home from the hospital and I already want to punch my husband in the balls*" is super helpful, too. It's also a great female bonding opportunity when another mom-friend texts you, "I just threw a pack of wipes at my husband's head," and you totally get it.

8. Find a way to sleep. I looked at myself in the mirror the morning after Henry was born, and thought to myself, "Oh, that's not so bad. I've had hangovers worse than this." But then I looked at myself in the mirror one morning a couple of weeks later and thought, "Oh, who is that poor woman?" My point being: sleeplessness is the hard part.

And to those who say, "Sleep when they sleep," you likely never had a baby who didn't sleep unless he was being held (ahem, Henry.) And even if you are getting six hours of sleep a night-- these hours may be split into one or two hour stretches. And while it eventually ends, it can last awhile, which is why you have to FIND A WAY. Hand the baby off to your hubby the minute he walks into the door and go nap, or call your mom for help (my mom has come to stay with us for a week after each of the children was born and it was SO helpful. I remember one morning, she held Henry and let him sleep on her for more than three hours, and I slept the whole time. It was the longest stretch of sleep I had gotten and I felt like a million bucks.) It is however, amazing how quickly you will adjust to less sleep, and this is coming from a girl who very much enjoyed a full eight hours every night.

9. Comparison is the thief of joy. I know it's tough, but try not to make comparisons. Just last week I had a day where I rushed out of the door, without having showered, still in PJs to drop Henry and Will off at school. I was a mess. Since we were late, I had to do the walk of shame into the building (usually I don't have to get out of the car.) At the same time, another Mom, with a flawless face, perfect curls and an adorable outfit was walking her kids to the door. I left thinking, "Why can't I have my sh!t together like that woman?" But then I came home to Fiona and snuggled the snot out of her for a few hours and all was forgotten.

Also, I eventually managed a shower.

What advice do you wish you had gotten before your first baby? Share in the comments!

*hypothetical, of course.

2 comments:

  1. My wife teaches a child birth class, and I've stopped by on occasion to share the "here's what I wish I knew ahead of time" with the dads, but that's always been focused on the birth process.

    I guess the biggest thing is to come up with a division of labor. Probably most couples have worked that out already, but it's super important with a baby around. Since I worked (as in paid employment) and my wife stayed home (which is definitely work itself), she took care of diapers during the day and when I was home, diapers were my job. During the middle-of-the-night feeding days, I would change the baby and then she would nurse. Of course, plans rarely go as planned, so it's important to be flexible.

    Also, you quickly reach a place where nothing is gross anymore. The things that go into and out of your child's body become a matter of routine pretty quickly.

    If you have two kids, it's more than double the effort. This one gets shared a lot, but I don't think anyone believes it until it happens to them. The good news is that you feel a lot more confident as a parent the second time around and you freak out less.

    Most importantly, though, new parents must know that it's okay to get angry or frustrated: at yourself, at your partner, or at your baby. Babies are a lot of work and you will be tired, dirty, and hungry for months to come. It doesn't have to be perfect all the time and anyone who seems to be experiencing that is lying to you. Let yourself feel angry: it's healthy so long as you can manage it. When you get to the point where you're losing control, get professional help. It will be okay.

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  2. "If you have two kids, it's more than double the effort"-- YES!! And you are right, too about the frustration and anger-- I've had so many tell me that the couple of months after their first baby were the hardest in their marriage!

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