As many currently know, I am pregnant with my second child. I wanted to take a few minutes to express some of my own personal experiences from my first daughter to possibly pass on to someone that may need it.
1. Even if your baby is born in the middle of summer, buy long sleeves
Oh man, I wish I had listened to my mom on that one. I know how tempting it is to buy little sleeveless dresses and such, and that’s fine, but make sure to have some long sleeved onesies and blankets as well. Even though adults get hot in the summer, tiny newborn babies still get cold unless they are right up against your skin. I learned this the hard way the first time I tried to put Harmony in a cute sleeveless dress and she turned purple 5 minutes later. When my best friend had her daughter almost a year after mine I made sure to bring her a blanket and some long sleeved shirts to the hospital. She thanked me a few days later because she had also fell for all those cute sleeveless dresses and outfits.
2. Breastfeeding is worth it, but it’s not always easy
We’ve all read it in some book while pregnant. They make us think that breastfeeding is a magical event where a baby is born and immediately latches on perfectly. Then the heavens open up and light shines down on this beautiful act and milk flows from the mother’s breast like a waterfall. Wrong. Totally wrong. Breastfeeding is easy to some people, but it’s not easy for everyone. I was unlucky enough to be in a not so baby friendly hospital and Harmony was taken away from me for 4 hours after I delivered her. After that we battled latch problems, jaundice, weight loss, and a tongue tie. If I hadn’t been a part of a local breastfeeding support group or had Jeremy there to coach me (he was truly a wonderful and supportive partner) I probably would’ve given up. It’s hard enough to deal with the weird hormone fluctuations after birth, and if you add nursing problems on top of it it can all make you feel pretty worthless and emotionally exhausted. However, if you’re able to team up with other iron breasted mommas and a good lactation consultant and make it work out, please do so. I promise you won’t regret it at all. Breastfeeding is such a wonderful and loving experience, and not to mention there are so many benefits to both momma and baby.
3. The weight will come off eventually
I hate that our media has let us think that all women are capable of looking normal again 6 weeks or less after giving birth. Some women drop weight so quickly, and that’s fine, but it’s not a standard we should all hold ourselves up to. I dropped weight quickly with Harmony, but I still didn’t look “normal.” I looked squishy, and well, like a new mom. I ate healthy and made sure to breastfeed on demand, and that’s what helped me out to look and feel normal again. Please don’t try to work out for 4 hours a couple of weeks after you give birth. I promise it’s not healthy. It took your body almost a year to create a life, give it some time to readjust on its own. That’s not to say that you should still eat ice cream every other night and load up on carbs at 1 am…
Give yourself some time. Being healthy emotionally is just as important as physically after having a baby.
4. Don’t be afraid to say something if you’re feeling down
I made that mistake. I’m someone that has always bottled up every feeling ever until I emotionally implode. It’s not something I’m proud of. Baby Blues are common after birth. I remember the day after Harmony was born my mom said something and I just cried and cried. She didn’t even say anything bad. Crying randomly is normal, and most will claim that feeling blue for 6 weeks or so after birth is normal, but if it goes on after that…talk to someone. Please. Talk to a doctor or a family member. The crying stopped for me, but then I started to feel very down most of the time. I blamed it on life, but looking back I know that I should have sought help. I was alone often at work and I caught myself putting myself down and calling myself a worthless mother. I thought I was a burden on everyone, including my daughter. It got to a point where I started to convince myself that everyone would be better off without me. It’s still hard for me to talk about, but I hope that if anyone reads this and is feeling the same way they will talk to someone.
5. It’s okay to follow your own instincts
This is probably one of the hardest and most important lessons I have ever learned in motherhood. I’m the type of mother that listens to their instincts 98% of the time with newborns. This still confuses many people in the older generations because they were raised to believe babies cry to manipulate and should learn who’s boss as soon as their out of the womb. I’m not one of those parents. If Harmony cried, I picked her up. I breastfed on demand, even if that meant every hour, and we coslept with her. Those were my instincts. Harmony is almost 2 now, and despite what others tried to tell me, she is ridiculously independent and a great kid in general. She learned to walk despite all the baby wearing I did, and she’s not a tyrant that throws tantrums since I never allowed her to cry it out over anything. Does she act like a normal, emotional toddler at times? Yes. Listen to what your gut and heart tells you when it comes to your kid. I can’t emphasize that enough. If you don’t want to give your kid mashed potatoes at 3 months old, don’t. You don’t have to give into Aunt Betty that swears all of her kids were fine because they were gumming hard candy by 6 months old. Some of the information that still floats around is wrong (look up WHO facts about breastfeeding and baby led solids), and you have every right to not listen to it. You have every right to pick up your baby and cuddle them a million times a day. Don’t let people scare you into doing anything less than what you want. Chances are if something feels wrong, it is wrong. Our instincts as mothers are almost flawless, and that’s something I don’t think we give ourselves enough credit for.
I end this post on the note that these are my personal experiences and lessons. I have friends of all types that have many different parenting styles. I don’t want anyone to read this and think that I am saying I am a parenting guru. I’m still learning and growing as a mother everyday. My instincts as a mother are probably different than other mothers, and that’s fine. I will say that every mother should always research things as much as possible, and give yourself room to say, “I’ll know better next time.”