We’re living in a new mom, newborn haze. Our days are a constant cycle of baby snuggles, cries, feeding sessions, and diaper changes. It is crazy how someone so tiny makes the biggest impact on your life. From the second our girl was born our world looked different. In an instant, we had to adjust, learn, and adapt to caring for this tiny human. Babies are such a blessing, but don’t be fooled by the pretty Instagram pictures – it’s a lot! A lot of sleepless nights, tears, second-guessing yourself, and Googling or calling Grandma! But, it is 100% worth it.
Whether you are a new parent, expecting, or just curious – the following are some highlights on what I’ve learned the first few weeks of being a new mom, including tips for first-time parents and ideas on how to support the new parents in your life.
Things I've learned as a new mom, advice for new parents and ideas on how to support new moms
labor & delivery, the hospital stay and bringing home baby:
- birth plans: everyone is different, and needs to prepare for birth in a way that is best for them, however, my advice as far as birth plans are to go in with an open mind. The thing about bringing a human into the world is (much like life) things may not go according to your “plan.” We went into labor and delivery with an idea of our preferences and wanted to trust the medical providers along the way. This worked best for us as things came up that were unexpected. Had we had a stricter “plan” I may have been stressed about having to deviate from that.
- packing for the hospital: my advice…do not overpack! Your hospital will likely provide some of the things on your packing list (diapers, wipes, swaddles, and onesies for baby, postpartum care items for you). I used this checklist from Dress Up Buttercup to plan my packing list for the hospital. A few things I wish I would have packed extra – an extra nightgown and nursing tanks.
- feel the feels: the first days and weeks are HARD. I know you see smiling pictures of couples with their newborns on Instagram but be kind to yourself and remember that those happy picture-perfect moments are not the full story. You will cry for no reason and for all the reasons, be kind to yourself, lean on your partner and friends/family.
- accept the help, and ask for it: if you’re lucky to have family and friends like I do, you will have people reaching out to send meals, offer help, and check in on you. Accept the help! This is not a time to be too proud for help, you can’t take care of the baby if you aren’t taking care of yourself. When people ask how they can help – tell them!
- prep the home before birth: in the weeks leading up to baby I did a few things to help prep for bringing her home – here’s what was most helpful:
- sterilize all bottles, pacifiers pumping equipment and get it organized for use
- set up diaper changing stations around the house where you think you’ll spend the most time (I have several portable caddies stocked with all our diaper changing needs so I can take them from room to room if needed)
- create a pumping or breastfeeding “caddy” – I have a portable caddy with all of my pumping equipment so I can take it to whatever room I’m at with baby
- wash and organize blankets, burp cloths, bedding, and clothing baby will need initially
- have quick and easy snacks stocked – you’ll need the fuel! (protein bars, nuts, fruit, cheese and crackers)
- learn as you go: as much as you think you’ve prepared for birth and bringing home baby, you haven’t. Trust me, as someone who read the books and listened to the podcasts, it’s an entirely different ballgame when you’re living it. Remember to give yourself grace.
how to help new moms:
- offer help: in my experience, the most helpful encounters with friends and family after we had the baby were those people how just showed up. Instead of asking what we needed, we had friends and family who just showed up with groceries, or texted and said they were bringing dinner or asked for our carryout order. Our daughter was a little thing when she was born so none of the clothes we had bought her fit. I had a sweet friend send premie clothes from Amazon, totally something I didn’t ask for but it was so thoughtful and exactly what we needed. In those first weeks, I didn’t even have the brain capacity to think about what we needed so it was nice to have people just show up without me having to ask.
- give space: I know it is intuition to reach out to a new parent and ask how they’re doing – but I think it’s important to also give new parents space during this time.
- Some tips:
- expect a delayed response
- check-in on the new parents too
- send help from afar – the cards, meals, care packages, and congratulatory messages were all so appreciated and kept us going those first few weeks
- don’t initiate a conversation that requires the new parent to engage in an exchange…what I mean by this is, if you want to check in – great, do that! A simple “hey, congrats – I am thinking of you…reach out when you’re ready” is much more appreciated than a conversation that requires mom to explain how she and baby are doing…if mom feels comfortable sharing these details with you, she will.
- Some tips:
Perhaps the most valuable thing I have learned as a new parent is to trust yourself. There is a ton of noise in the parenting space. You’ll be hit with advice (whether welcome or not) on how to do everything from burping baby to putting her to sleep. It can be hard in the first few weeks to trust yourself, but in the end you have to have the faith and confidence that you are what is best for your child. Trust me when I say, it’s so easy to be discouraged – multiple times a day I find myself questioning what I’m doing when it comes to caring for our daughter, but I promise you’re doing amazing. Hang in there, momma!