There are a whole lot of things I wish I had known the first time I became a mother. Now after four children, I know that there are 10 secrets every new mom should know.
1. Got milk? Ask as many questions as you need to ask about breastfeeding while you are in the hospital. If you get home and you still have questions, go ahead and ask those, too. If you decide that breast is best, you do have nurses and lactation experts to fall back on. But, if you don't, remember that is your decision to make and that is OK, too.
2. Drop dead drama mama. Just because you have had your baby doesn't mean all those pregnancy hormones disappeared. You still have them and a whole lot more including being touchy after sleepless nights, learning new skills and a new routine. When those hormones are raging, be sure to acknowledge them.
3. Baby blues. While you are pregnant everyone may have been paying attention to your every need. However, now that baby is here you are left to your own devices and hormones may be raging. A few "baby blues" are normal considering everything that your body is going through but if things get too scary, make sure to consult your physician and avoid a bad case of the baby blues before they hit.
4. Hush little baby and baby's momma, don't say a word. This cannot be said often enough. Sleep when baby sleeps if you can. There are not enough hours in the day to do everything that you need to do, and it may feel like you want to skip sleeping to get everything from cooking and cleaning to caring for baby done. But you don't have to feel that way. Sleep is one of the most important things you can do for your own health and your baby's. Turn off the phone and even leave a sign to not ring door bells. Do whatever it takes to get those sweet dreams, even if they have to happen in the middle of the day.
5. Ask and you shall receive. Sometimes you don't even need to ask. When people offer to come over and clean, do the laundry , wash the dishes or drop off a meal, let them. They are offering because they really do want to help and in some cases they already know exactly how difficult dealing with a new baby can be. This help can sometimes make all the difference in what may seem to you to be a no good, horrible, very bad day. Let dad be involved and if he isn't simply tell him what you need. After all, he can't read your mind and it shouldn't hurt to ask. He probably wants to be just as involved as you want help.
6. Don't take it personally. I admit with my first two children I took every piece of advice personally. With my last two children I realized that people just naturally offer up advice thinking they are being helpful. Some think they are always right. Whatever the reason you receive the advice, don't take it personally, and sometimes it may actually make sense.
7. Now is not the time to be a strong man (or woman). The first few weeks after you bring baby home is not the time to decide to start moving the furniture around or redecorating, even though you may think that it needs done. Remember, your body and your muscles, especially in the pelvic area, actually have gone through quite a workout over the past few months. There is a reason why doctors remind you not to lift anything heavier than baby, whether it is for exercise or just because that dust bunny under the couch is driving you crazy.
8. Make that call. There is a reason why you are sent home with the pediatrician's telephone number and emergency services number. If there is any doubt about your baby's health there is no doubt about making that call, especially if your baby has a fever, rash, isn't eating or is having trouble breathing. In most cases, you may feel a little silly, but there are those few occasions when making that call is all you need.
9. Spa days are "ahah" days. Whether you are used to having a "spa day" or not, there is one thing you can do for yourself and for baby that will make you feel so much better. Take a shower. What? You may say, is she serious? Yes, absolutely! Sometimes we get so caught up in the new-ness of being a mom that we forget about being a person and that includes taking a shower. Just those five minutes can help wake you up and make you ready for the day.
10. Let it slide. Feeling overwhelmed at trying to be a wife and mother? Then let something "slide." Whether it is letting the laundry pile up a little bit or letting the dishes go for just one night, there are times that taking care of you and baby come first and the other stuff can simply slide.
Being a new mom may feel pretty overwhelming at first but you will do more than "get by" with a whole lot of help from your significant other, family and friends as well as strength on your part. Just remember it does get better and soon you will take that first giant step into parenthood; sleeping through the night.
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