The 3 things I wish I had known as a new mom did not come without a struggle! As a mom to three in under three years, I learned a lot, not always the easy way! When preparing for your first child, you spend a lot of time researching what to add to your baby registry, but maybe not as much on what to expect once your precious baby is here.
If you have a medical concern, you should consult with your health care provider or seek other professional medical treatment immediately. Things discussed on this blog are my own experiences and should never replace advice from a medical professional or delay you from seeking professional medical advice.
1. Take the Postpartum Healing Time Seriously!
I have noticed a lot of influencers I see on instagram are doing a ton just shortly after giving birth. I know everyone has different births and the healing process looks quite different from person to person. However, I think our culture does not place as much importance on the postpartum healing time as it should!
In many other cultures, after a baby is born, a community of women will come to help the new mama. Household chores, taking care of other children, and cooking meals are just some of the things they help with. This allows the new mom to spend time resting in bed and getting to know their new baby! They understand that this “laying in” period is not one to mess around with!
I fell into the trap of thinking I needed to get back to my normal life ASAP with my firstborn. I was literally vacuuming the house not even a week after he was born. This was not because I didn’t have help, I did! My mom was staying with us and my husband was home! I just simply put that pressure on myself because I thought that’s what you “should” be able to do!
I have since learned why it is so important for you to take your postpartum rest time seriously! A lot shifts around in your body to make room for that squishy baby you now have in your arms. It takes some time for everything to go back to where it should be! Taking time to rest is crucial to letting your body heal properly.
After having a homebirth for my 3rd baby in July 2021, I followed a bit of a different resting period.
It looked like this:
- 2 weeks in bed (pj’s all day!)
- 2 weeks near the bed (so still just around the house, started getting dressed, but no chores)
- 2 weeks with minimal outings and small chores
This might seem extreme, but it was AMAZING for my healing! By the end of the 6th week, I felt like I was truly ready, physically and emotionally, to start doing more. There are several reasons to stay in and around the bed for so long. This gives you time to feed your baby, heal physically, rest and sleep when you can (because nights are not the same), and emotionally process the birth you just experienced. Welcoming a new baby into your life is a huge event and should be treated that way!
2. Newborns like to Nurse… A LOT!
This is something that seems quite obvious! But as a new mom, my expectations for a beautiful nursing relationship with my son were quite different than what was reality! I remember asking the nurses in the hospital how often I should nurse my new baby. Afraid he wouldn’t eat enough, I thought I had to have him on a schedule right away! I had read the books and knew that if I wanted him to learn to eat and sleep well, I needed to get him on a good schedule.
Once we got home, I quickly learned newborns are GREAT at letting you know when they want to eat. (I realize some newborns who sleep a lot and need the schedule, but this is my experience with my 3!) It is quite normal to nurse your newborn and then 30 minutes later, they are wanting to nurse again! Much more often than the 2-3 hours than I had prepared myself for!
Why do babies want to nurse so much?!
Babies want to be close to mama. Nursing a lot is a way to build the bond with your newborn, build up your milk supply, and keep mama from overdoing it after giving birth! Remember that “laying in” postpartum period I talked about earlier? Establishing this nursing relationship is another great reason to take your time getting back to “normal” life! 🙂
It’s helpful to remember the newborn stage is just that- a stage. It will not last forever, even if it feels like it! Having 3 babies in 3 years has definitely taught me that babies don’t keep! Nursing my babies has been such a gift, and when I stopped feeling frustrated that I couldn’t get my newborn on this magical schedule I’d read about, I was able to enjoy our nursing relationship so much more than I ever had imagined I could!
Looking back, I wish I had known this with my firstborn. I grew to love our nursing relationship eventually, but as my first baby, it was tough in the beginning! Now, with my third baby just a little over 3 months old, I am soaking up every moment with her and allll the nursing that comes with her growing up!
3. Babies don’t need as many things as you might think!
When you are expecting your first baby, everyone is so excited and wanted to help support you! It is such a sweet time and people are so kind and you feel so much love as you carry your baby! If you are so fortunate to receive a baby shower, making a baby registry is a bit overwhelming! I felt like I was being conservative on my baby registry, but as I found out, I ended up with way more than I actually needed. With each baby I have let more and more things go because I realized I just didn’t use them.
So what do babies need? I am going to do an entire post on my favorite newborn minimal essentials, but to keep it short here, it’s not much!
Basically they need:
- clothing (not a lot! a few onesies, footie pajamas and sleeper gowns, that’s it)
- somewhere to sleep – this has been my favorite for all my babies
- a way to be held (I love my Solly baby wraps for newborn wearing)
- a safe place to be set down (a bassinet that can be moved around the house or a bouncer like this)
- 6 burp cloths and a few receiving blankets
- car seat
That’s pretty much it! Notice no baby bath tub, nursing pillow, swing/rocker, etc. A stroller can be helpful at times, but I find wearing the baby is so much easier most of the time. For baths, I just fill the bathtub with about an inch of water and bathe the baby in there! So easy, plus less stuff! I also don’t have bottles listed because I have EBF the past two babies and have not needed to bottle feed them.
If you are wondering what to get for your baby, I would suggest starting off small. You can always get more later if you really feel you would use it. Buying from second hand children’s shops is a great way to try things out without spending a lot of money on something you may or may not use.
To wrap it up…
The newborn period goes by so fast! Don’t miss out on all the little things because you are in a rush to get back to how life was before baby. Embrace this slower, simpler time with your newborn. When you feel overwhelmed by the needs of your baby, remember this is the littlest they will ever be. Soak it up and try not to wish the time away.
Pin it for later!
Okay, before you read this letter, let me just say I am not a “inspirational quotes” person! NOTHING against you if you love them, it’s just not normally my thing. However! This was sent to me when I was in the thick of newborn life and feeling so overwhelmed all the time. This letter helped me so much and just gave me a little perspective of what life was like for my new baby. I obviously bawled when I read it, because hormones. But I have read it again with each baby when I start getting those old feelings and it always helps.
I don’t know who wrote this, but it is truly so sweet. Feel free to save the images so you can read it when you’re feeling overwhelmed. And remember, you were made for this, Mama!