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9 Truths Every New Mom Should Know (the stuff nobody tells you)

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Becoming a mom is as exciting as you imagine, but it’s also a huge life adjustment.

And while people gush about how wonderful it is to have a baby (and it is!), they rarely share how challenging it is to deal with being thrust into parenthood overnight.

When I would go grocery shopping with my newborn, older women would come over to my cart and coo at my baby. They would say things like, “The newborn stage is the best.”

And I would think: If this is the best it gets, there’s not a whole lot to look forward to.

Because at that point, I was exhausted and yearning to be kid-free for an hour or two, even to just do housework or run errands without constantly caring for my baby.

Going from taking care of just myself and considering my husband’s needs to putting my baby’s needs first all of the time was a huge shift.

So, the next time you start to feel guilty that you’re not embracing motherhood like everyone thinks you should, know that you’re not alone.

For most of us, becoming motherly doesn’t happen overnight.

The fact is, there are a lot of ups and downs in the newborn months.

Related: 5 Doable ways to prioritize yourself as a brand new mom

Related: 12 Essentials every new mom needs for herself

What first-time moms need to know

1. You might not bond with your baby right away.

Everyone has heard the same story from moms they know: “As soon as I saw my baby, I fell in love.”

I don’t know about you, but I’m not the love-at-first-glance type. It took time for my baby and me to get to know each other and now I think she’s the most wonderful thing ever.

But don’t feel bad if you don’t fall in love from day one. This is actually more common than you’d think. In fact, about 20% of new moms won’t experience that immediate bond.

2. The first six weeks can be difficult.

Let me break down what those weeks looked like for me: No sleep, sore nipples, and being anxious about everything.

But life gets easier as you go on and get into the swing of things, especially if you have a supportive husband and extended family.

Being able to hand your baby off to someone else so you can take a bath or run to the store by yourself is a game changer.

Also, don’t give up on breastfeeding. Nursing has amazing benefits for you and your baby– it’ll get better!

3. You probably won’t feel like a mom right away.

Parenting seems like it should be instinctual, right?

But there’s a huge learning curve and it takes time to figure out the best ways to soothe your baby, your favorite nursing position, when your baby needs to sleep and just about everything else.

I remember crying to my husband the first week because I felt like I was failing at everything (and…hormones).

But when my baby was four weeks old, I took her to a family gathering. Everyone held her and eventually she started crying. Try as the older generation might, they couldn’t calm her down.

I finally grabbed my little one, went into a quiet, darkened room, and nursed her to sleep.

It was at that moment I truly felt like a mom– I knew exactly what to do to calm my baby down when more experienced moms had no idea what my child needed.

After that came more signs that I had mom power– my baby showed that she preferred me to others, gave me lots of smiles, and I could actually laugh when she was crying instead of wanting to cry myself.

4. Poopsplosions happen.

Listen: There are certain events you can’t control during the newborn months. These include frequent poopsplosions and crying.

You just deal with them as they come. Do your best, ignore the haters, and carry on.

(Note: If your little one seems to be screaming for no reason, it could be a sign that your baby is tired.)

5. You have to create regular naptimes.

Naptime is essential to your sanity. That’s when you get a much-deserved break to snooze a bit yourself, get stuff done or call a friend.

But here’s the weird thing: You have to help your baby establish a good sleeping routine.

Around four months, babies start to consolidate their sleep. That means your little one will sleep through the night and take three naps a day, if you encourage good sleep habits.

But it’s crucial that you stick to a routine and respect your baby’s sleep needs in order to cultivate a regular sleep schedule.

Learn from the expert (Dr. Marc Weissbluth) in the book Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child (it has near Bible-level status in my home!).

At first, your little one will need three naps a day (morning, early afternoon and late afternoon). Eventually, those will consolidate into two naps (morning and afternoon) and then one big afternoon nap.

You’ll shout “hallelujah!” and finally get laundry folded and put away.

6. If you don’t let others hold your baby, you’ll regret it.

It’s really important to let your close family and friends hold your baby during the newborn months. It helps your child get used to other people.

If you’re the only one who holds your baby all the time, your child will later refuse to be held by anyone else but you (hello: exhaustion).

My children have been surrounded by a big Italian family from day one and have no problem being held by others. Thank goodness!

We were actually able to do a date night when my first child was eight weeks old while her grandparents watched her.

7. You’ll get lots of unwanted advice.

Well-meaning family and friends are going to tell you what you should and shouldn’t do. But you know your baby best and what works for your family, so don’t feel guilty going against their advice.

The best way to respond to unsolicited opinions? Use the doctor excuse. It goes like this, “Thanks for that advice. I’ll check that out with my doctor,” or “The doctor said we need to be doing this, that, and the other.”

8. Flexibility is the name of the parenting game.

Just when you think you can count on your baby sleeping through the night, he’ll start waking up at 3 a.m. with teething pains. Or the swing that always makes your little one happy suddenly makes her fuss to get out of it.

By nature, babies are unpredictable. If you’re a planner like me, disrupted routines can be irritating.

Parenting teaches you the importance of being able to adapt to changing circumstances.

9. You can make the newborn months easier.

Turns out, a few preparations before your little one arrives can make life less chaotic those first few months.

From having your freezer stocked with dinners to purchasing the gear that makes nursing more comfortable.

Related: How to make life with a newborn easier


Learning about what’s to come can help prepare you for the transition to parenthood.

Everyone struggles with the adjustment in some way– even if it doesn’t seem like it from the outside.

What helps with the overwhelm? Talking with other mom friends or even joining a mom group or forum online where women are willing to share (and laugh) about their first-time parenting challenges.

Knowing you’re not alone and getting tips from parents who are in the milk-stained trenches with you is a lifesaver.

And remember, it’ll take time to become “mom” and that’s ok because you’re in this for the long haul.

Save for later? Share these new mom truths with other moms by pinning!

motherhood truths no one tells you

Robyn

Tuesday 21st of August 2012

Your list is absolutely correct! I just passed the one year mark with my son. People ask if I miss him being a little newborn. A thousand times NO!!!! The transition to mommyhood is so HARD! It is made worse when well meaning people tell you to "enjoy this stage". I remember feeling so guilty and brokenhearted when I didn't enjoy it. I love the stage we are at now!

Kiralyn

Tuesday 21st of August 2012

Isn't it nice to know you're not alone Robyn? Now that I have more distance - three plus years - from the newborn stage, I now know though what all those well-intentioned strangers were talking about. The sweetness of the newborn stage (i.e. you are their entire world, the cuddle factor, the miracle of life) is something that is unique and, as hard as it is for me to admit, I kind of mourn it's passing now that it is long gone. My husband likes to remind me though that I'm just remembering all the good things and not the bad like sleepless nights, poopsplosions, sore nipples, no personal space, etc.

Teems

Tuesday 31st of July 2012

How cute. I am only 3 months in and all of these rung a bell for me.

I love the fonts you chose too!

Kiralyn

Wednesday 1st of August 2012

Thanks Teems! Do you feel like you've found your mama groove now that you are three months in? Or are those sea legs still shaky?

Christa the BabbyMama

Tuesday 24th of January 2012

Awesome advice all around! I wish I'd had someone say this all to me when I was trying to work and deal with a preemie from day 1. Things were awful a lot for me for the first four months or so :(

Kiralyn

Tuesday 24th of January 2012

I cannot imagine what it would be like with a preemie. You go mama! You survived and I'm sure you have your own words of wisdom to pass on to others. I hope you share them here.

Alyssa

Wednesday 6th of April 2011

Ahh I love #2. When Lyla was a very colicky newborn, I was honestly ANGRY with my mom friends for not telling me how horrible having a newborn is. I'll never be able to say this without a tinge of guilt, but my first several weeks as a mother were not joyful.

Kristi

Tuesday 25th of January 2011

Ultimate Outcast - It sounds like you were really proactive and made a lot of effort to develop a good group of mommy friends around you. I need to do more of that. Maybe I'll develop my own pick up line!