I’ve been thinking about what new moms need to know in those first few days home with a baby. Those first few days after becoming a mom to a newborn are a whirlwind of emotions and changes and new beginnings. Here are some words of advice for new moms of newborns, on those first few days from moms who’ve been there…
Advice for new moms of newborns, for the first few days
When I became a mom to my older son, the first few days home from the hospital were filled with the unexpected. Newborns turn your world upside down, because they don’t have a schedule. And in those first few days, you’re in survival mode… it’s very humbling. To that point, new moms should probably try to prepare for the reality that the first few days home with a newborn can be hard. Here, I’m sharing some words of wisdom from some moms (though not from my mom or mother-in-law, since for them, those newborn days were a long time ago!) about those first few days home with a newborn.
Samantha (a mom I connected with through a Facebook group for local parents) advises new mamas to get help:
“Don’t be afraid to ask for help. I tried to do everything on my own before finally giving in.”Samantha
Ana (another mom I connected with through the same Facebook group) also said something similar:
“It truly does take a village so find yours.”Ana
In her post, Ana also reminds moms to share the new responsibilities of parenting with their partners as much as possible, and reminds moms to take care of themselves and their own needs (which can be hard in those first few days and weeks):
“DO NOT FORGET ABOUT YOURSELF! It’s easy to get lost in the new routine but make an effort to nap when the baby naps, use paper plates for a month if that’ll ease the burden of dishes, the crockpot is your friend!”Ana
…and she adds that moms should remember to be kind to themselves, and ought to remind themselves, to “take it easy & remember that you’re doing great!!!”
My friend Meredith (who shared her thoughts on being a working mom in this post) advises new moms to soak up and enjoy the early days, because…
“The newborn snuggles, little squeaks and twitchy movements come and go so quickly.”Meredith
And to that point, Meredith also adds that new parents should document those early days:
“Take LOTS of videos. I regret not taking more videos of the newborn days. You will miss even the hardest days with your newborn.”Meredith
To that, I would add that you might even want to take notes and document how you’re feeling in those early days. Those first few days and weeks go by in such a blur, you might appreciate having some kind of record of what was going through your head as you became a mom.
My own advice is geared toward people like myself: over-planners. Before becoming a parent, I’ve always tended toward overplanning, but becoming a mom has really taught me to go with the flow more, and learn to be open to the unknown… so to other moms who tend toward trying to plan everything out, my own personal advice, especially in those early few days, is to go with the flow. To that point, I’d also add that it’s important to be patient with yourself as you figure things out. Matrescence is a process; becoming a mother takes time.
Advice for new moms on routines (or not having them)
Some families thrive on establishing routines — for feeding, sleeping, etc. — early on, while others believe in letting things fall into place without intervention.
Moms like Emily di Febo (who wrote this post about babywearing and bed-sharing) fall more into the latter camp, leaning toward having everyone sleep in the same bed, and letting things fall into place on their own. Such moms might advise valuing family closeness over establishing routine. (You can read more about Emily’s attachment-parenting style approach to raising her kids here).
Meanwhile, other mamas, like Meredith, find it works better for their families (and everyone’s sanity) to establish routines early:
“If sleep is especially important to you, I recommend starting the eat, play, sleep routine (not schedule – very different – schedules come much later on) at 4 weeks during the day time. This had both of mine sleeping through the night at 6-8 weeks. I may have just gotten lucky, but it worked!”Meredith
Both Emily and Meredith’s approaches work for their families — and that just further goes to show that there are so many different, valid ways to structure your family’s routine, and even your overall approach to parenting. All of this is to say, there’s no one right way to raise kids right. (To that point, I’m currently reading a book that raises the question, do any of our parenting choices really matter? It’s humbling — but also comforting!)
Advice for new moms on remembering to relax
I tend toward over-planning — and before my older son was born, I had all these ideas about how we were going to do things with him: Where he was going to sleep (again, here’s a link to that post by Emily di Febo about co-sleeping!), what our average days would look like… everything. And of course, none of what we had expected or planned aligned with reality. Becoming a mom taught me, very quickly, to learn to go with the flow, and be open to the unknown.
To that point, my mother-in-law Mary says,
“My house was always a mess but the kids were happy; their loudness were happy sounds so I let them be loud.”Mary
Advice for new moms on the bond you’ll have with your babies
And no matter what you do in your approach to raising your babies, or the degree to which you train yourself to relax, there’s comfort in this: You’ll have a bond with your children that will make everything, including the self-doubt and mom guilt you’ll undoubtedly wrestle with at some point over the years of raising them, completely worth it.
And for mamas who put their babies ahead of everything else — like my own mom, and my mother-in-law, Mary — there’s also a special pride in who those babies grow up to become.
“My kids were and still are my life. There was never anything more important to me than being a mother. Nobody is ever going to say ‘Mary loved her job here as a secretary, and she made an everlasting mark at this company.’ But they will say, ‘Kelli and David are wonderful people,’ and that is my legacy. THAT was my job.
My job was to raise [my kids] knowing right from wrong. I always believed that my children were on the road of life – being successful loving people and I was their curb — [letting them veer] off the road just wasn’t an option. Whatever I had to do to keep them on the road I just HAD to do.
Raising those two beautiful human beings and setting them free into the world… I’m a bit biased but I think my kids are awesome. I’d like to think I played a role in some of that.”Mary, on raising her two kids
Final words of wisdom and advice for new moms of newborns
I don’t think you really know what kind of mom you’re going to be until you are one. But, here are some final words of wisdom from other mamas on those first few days home with a newborn…
My mom Sonia’s advice to other moms is to take all the help you can get in those early days with a newborn, but also take that help (and any advice that comes with it) with a grain of salt:
“If you’re lucky enough to have your own mom around when you become a mom, take advantage. You will need help in those early days. She might have good advice for you, too. But remember her advice might be outdated! I didn’t know much about breastfeeding when my daughter had a baby, so I gave terrible advice. But luckily she trusted herself (and didn’t hold a grudge!)… And of course, now I’m a big supporter of breastfeeding.”Sonia, on the importance of accepting help, especially in the early days
(My mom is right! She didn’t know much about ecological breastfeeding, so her input around nursing wasn’t super informed — but she quickly learned more, and I can’t overstate how helpful she was in those first few days, weeks, and months of my becoming a mom. I’m so thankful to have had her, and to have her today!)
My mother-in-law Mary’s advice to moms is to realize you know what your kids need better than anyone else, and to trust yourself:
“Don’t listen to my advice! Or anybody else’s for that matter. You know your children better than anybody does. Each one needs something different from you or maybe they won’t! Do what your instincts tell you to do and you can’t go wrong… [you have] enough knowledge to follow your heart and head.”Mary
Meredith said something similar:
“Trust your gut – mama knows best. Babies aren’t one size fits all, so ‘advice’ from other moms, family, friends, or even doctors, isn’t always what’s best for you and your babe. If it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it. You will figure this out very quickly.”Meredith
It’s also important to keep perspective. I’ve heard some variation of this sentiment from my sister-in-law Kelli and her husband Brian, as well as from Meredith:
“The days are long but the years are short.”Kelli
With Mother’s Day coming up soon, I’d love to share this reminder to all moms, shared by my friend Alexandra (Dr. Murtaugh, from this post), who says one thing all moms need to remember is this: to give yourself grace, and to “be kind to yourself.”