Two years ago my husband and I relocated to St. Louis. We left our family behind, found a new home, and started new jobs. In the midst of all the upheaval we decided to throw in a new baby. Suddenly, I was a new mother, in a new city, with a husband who was always at work. Looking back on it, we sometimes wonder how we ever survived those first weeks. One of the best things I did as a new mother was force myself to get out of the house and join a group for new mothers. I found a group through my local hospital and now, almost two years later, have a wonderful support group. But the truth is, it took a long time to pull my life back together. Below are my pearls of wisdom for new mothers. What I wish I had known….
1. Being a new mom is really hard. It is ok to ask for help. Let people cook, do laundry, clean, and grocery shop for you. You just had a baby and need time to bond with your new baby, sleep, and take a shower.
2. Let things go. It is OK if your house is dirty, laundry is undone (or sits in the basket so long that you are getting dressed out of the basket), dishes are on the counter, or dinner is take-out. It takes awhile to get your stride back after having a baby and to develop your new normal at home.
3. It is normal to miss your old life. It doesn’t mean you don’t love your baby. Having a baby is one of the biggest life changes you will ever experience. It is natural to miss the way things were, to wish to sleep through the night, to wish things were easier again…
4. Not everyone instantly falls in love and bonds with their baby (most people don’t). Many people have a sudden rush of emotion that fades after the first day. Actually falling in love and bonding with your baby might take several weeks or months.
5. Be PROUD of your body. You just created and birthed an entirely new human being. It is amazing! In a few months go SHOPPING! Buy some new clothes to fit your new body and new life.
6. Yoga pants are your best friend! Over the next few months when nothing fits right, yoga pants are the answer. They are amazingly versatile, easy to wash, and go with almost everything.7.
7. Breastfeeding can be really hard. Ask for help. Many hospitals and clinics have lactation consultants who schedule outpatient appointments. Many specialty baby/children’s stores have breastfeeding support groups. Take advantage of these community resources. If nursing doesn’t work for you, remember that formula is excellent too! Feel good about the choice you make for feeding your baby.
8. Join a new mom’s group. Having a group of moms dealing with the same challenges as you at the same time is very important. Look for support groups offered through your local hospital, churches, or baby specialty stores.
9. Leave the house everyday. Once you survive the first 1-2 weeks, it is time to start getting out of the house. It doesn’t have to be a big trip, just something to break up the day and keep you sane. Head to the park, store, or meet up with family or friends. Every time you leave the house it will get easier.
10. You will survive the first day by yourself. Your husband or partner will have to go back to work and your friends and family will need to return home. The first day alone might start and end with tears, but you will get through it. The second day will be easier and eventually you will be the seasoned mother dispensing well meaning advice to the next wave of new mothersJ