Expectant moms, veteran moms, and moms that are in the trenches with newborns have all received advice that's usually ridiculous, occasionally infuriating, and oftentimes laughable. However, there are times when someone surprises us with thoughtful and helpful advice.
"Sleep when the baby sleeps," is one of the most common nuggets of advice new moms hear. As if everything else in life will magically happen while you both snooze peacefully. Should I also clean when the baby cleans, and cook when the baby cooks too? Of course, you should sleep at some point, though, so try to catch those zzz's whenever you can.
We've compiled our favorite advice from moms who've been there. Some of the advice is practical (drink water!) some advice is more general, but it's all good, solid advice for new moms and mamas-to-be.
Once you've got some distance (probably somewhere around their first birthday), you'll possibly even look back on the newborn days fondly. All babies and situations are different, but hopefully, some of this advice will be helpful. Try to relax (and shower!) when you can, ask for help when you need it, and remember, you're doing great, mama.
"Try to stay off Google. I know you won't, but you really should. I'm not even a first-time mom any more, but in the last two weeks, Google has led me to believe that two of my kids might have brain tumors, one might have meningitis, and another might have Covid. They're all fine. Trust your mama gut and not Dr. Google." ~Kasey Joyce Grelle
We've all likely heard this advice when googling our own symptoms. The grimmest diagnoses are usually at the end of a session of symptom-searching. The same advice goes for our children. Trust your mom-gut, and try not to overreact to every slight elevation in body temperature, hiccup, or sniffle. Call the nurse line or your child's pediatrician if questions arise, and save the family and yourself a lot of stress.
Buying the Owlet saved my sanity. It's not for everyone and there are some disadvantages (like false alarms going off at 3am). However, I finally got several hours of sleep (in a row) after using it. While buying the Owlet outright is kind of expensive, sometimes they can be found more cheaply in mom groups or local marketplaces. For newbie, anxious moms, this may give you a little reassurance and peace at night.
"Drink water. You're likely so tired and worn out and you don't even realize how depleted you are. I started drinking a gallon of water per day after my third baby and I had so much more energy, my skin looked better, and I felt much better." ~Kasey Joyce Grelle
Drinking enough water is essential for everyone, especially new moms, and those that are breastfeeding. Invest in a large Hydroflask and keep it and some snacks accessible while you are tending to your newborn. Obviously taking care of ourselves is important, but we often put off our own needs to make sure our little one is happy and comfortable. Remember to take care of yourself, too.
"Its okay to set your crying baby down for two minutes to take a breather and regroup so you can better handle the situation. Sleep deprivation and a fussy baby can really get the best of you." ~Brittany Jimenez
We know that crying is our baby's way of communicating something to us, but sometimes the message is unclear. Once they are fed, burped, diapered, and comforted and nothing is changing the level of wailing, putting them down in a safe spot (i.e. on their back in their crib with nothing else) and taking a breather will be beneficial for both of you. Taking a few minutes to collect yourself is okay, and sometimes necessary.
If baby is inconsolable, another good piece of advice is to check their toes. It sounds weird, but sometimes a strand of hair or string can get wrapped around cute little baby toes or fingers like a tourniquet. Consult a doctor if this is the case, as it can have serious and detrimental effects.
"You're not obligated to let everyone come hold the baby right away or at all. You can sit and stare at your baby for an entire day if that's what you want to do. You don't have to open the door for anyone or people please. You just had a whole human and you're allowed to soak it in." ~Amanda Cecilia
This piece of advice from one of my mom groups will probably resonate with many new moms. Six months pre-Covid, I remember coming home from the hospital and trying to tidy up the living room before people started arriving. Eventually, I was forced to sit down because my body wasn't having any more of that, and my baby needed to nurse.
I'll never forget still trying to feel like I had it all together after I had just given birth to a whole person. Give yourself a break. The dishes will eventually get done and people will eventually get to hold the new baby. Better yet, if you allow visitors, put them to work filling the dishwasher or some other simple household chores. Likely, you won't get that opportunity again.
"Two simple yet effective methods to calm a fussy baby: Take them outside for fresh air or give them a bath. This works wonders as they get older too! Oh, and baby wearing will change your life! Having your arms free to be able to do other things while the baby is still able to sleep on you, especially during that time in the first 3-4 months (they refer to as the fourth trimester) is seriously the best!" ~Kristie Nicole
Whether you work, stay at home, or work from home, it's important for everyone to get some fresh air. Being cooped up day after day will make anyone cranky. Try to get out into nature (or at least the backyard) and take a stroll around the block a few times a week. It's so surprising what a difference it'll make.
Look up some videos about babywearing and try not to get frustrated if it doesn't work out initially. Finding the right baby carrier for you and your baby might take a few tries, but once you find the right carrier and you and the baby are comfy, babywearing is amazing!
"[Find] a support group of other moms. I found mine when I joined a new moms group six weeks postpartum. It was helpful to have moms at the same stage of life as you (and baby)." ~Whitney Wunderlich
Finding a group of supportive women to go to with questions and for understanding is so helpful when recovering from labor, during the sleepless nights, and through the ups and downs of motherhood. There are social media groups that typically start out as pregnancy groups. However, sometimes these can be immense, and making a post can get lost in the void. Depending on your engagement with the group, it might be beneficial for you, or it may just be a place where you ask questions occasionally.
Finding a local group of moms is a great idea too. Sometimes finding the right group is difficult, but when you find your people it can be so rewarding.
"Not feeling like yourself anymore is normal! Seeking out mental health support if you're struggling with the life change is something to be proud of, not ashamed of." ~Rachel Ann
CDC research has shown that "One in eight women experience symptoms of postpartum depression." After pregnancy and birth hormones are raging, it's normal to feel emotional and exhausted after the huge change you've been through. However, if feelings of hopelessness, withdrawing from loved ones, or feelings of anger are symptoms you experience, reaching out for help, talking to your doctor, and finding a good mental health therapist is important.
"Take too many pictures, and make sure you're in them sometimes." ~Kinsey McKibbin
With smartphones pretty much glued to our hands these days, taking pictures of our babies probably won't be a problem. However, make sure to ask your partner, mom, or friend to get some pictures of you and the baby. Selfies with babies are cute, but they usually don't capture candid, sweet, motherly moments.