As Henry reaches his first birthday, I think I’ve been on this motherhood ride long enough to have noticed a few things that have made my life much MUCH easier and that might help others. I can say with confidence that I have learned a LOT, and am celebrating making it through this first year. What a RIDE!
Here are some ideas from my own experience, shared in hopes that new moms can benefit. Feel free to share your own in the comments!
1. Go “hands-free”.
However you can “wear” your baby, do it. Wearing your baby keeps him/her close to your heart, keeps them warm and secure, and allows you to get stuff done! Over the course of Henry’s first year, I used three different products to achieve “hands-free” status, and they each were great at certain phases of baby’s development.
I used the Moby Wrap at the beginning, the Baby Bjorn carrier between 3 months and 6 months, and have now used the ERGOBaby carrier ever since. It is a GODSEND and I plan to use it well into Henry’s 2nd year. All three are below, and if you click on the photos, you’ll go to the corresponding page on Amazon.com so you can make a purchase.
2. Drink a TON of water.
Especially if you’re breastfeeding like I am, you’ll need to hydrate a TON to replace the water you lose through breast milk. I have tried to drink a glass of water before each nursing session. I have not always succeeded at this – sometimes you just can’t get up, and sometimes you just want to take care of baby before taking care of you.
No matter what is going on, your mantra must be: “Happy mommy, happy baby”. Take care of yourself first, or you may never get to do it.
3. Find other new moms, ASAP.
I was super lucky to have a well-known midwife who gathered a bunch of couples (who were expecting around the same time) and gave a series of birthing classes. We first met when we were all in our third trimesters and anxiously anticipating the births of our first children. We went through all of the laughter, tears, fears and excitement together. And the bond has lasted – we’ve gotten together for “playdates”, supported each other through social media, phone calls, and emails, and are now attending baby’s first birthday parties. I am NOT exaggerating when I say I couldn’t have done it without that support network!
4. Mother Nature is your best friend (and your baby’s best friend too)!
GO OUTSIDE AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE. Event if it’s just a step outside on the porch for 15 minutes, it’s powerful, relaxing and will bring you many benefits. It’s easy to get really, really stationary when you’re a new mom. At first, it can be nerve wracking just to try to walk across the room while holding your baby. But the more you can get outside, go for a stroll, or just sit on the porch or in the grass, the more you will notice the effects that nature can have on both you and the baby. (Hint: when Henry would fuss and nothing else would work, taking him for a short walk outside in the yard worked wonders.)
5. Make time for yourself. Take care of yourself. (Do it.)
As mentioned in tip #2 above, you MUST take care of yourself. This is no time to let yourself waste away. You’re raising a newborn baby! Treat this like a new health plan – eat enough calories (usually 500 more than usual), drink enough fluids, get as much rest as possible, and EXERCISE!
I was really bad at most of these, so I speak from experience when I say that I know I could have had it better. I know there were missed opportunities and it’s totally my own fault. Little things, like a visit to the salon for a hair cut, getting a massage once in a while, a manicure/pedicure can seem like you went on a week’s vacation to Tahiti…and they require much less commitment. Thankfully, my local salon is very baby-friendly (my facialist, hairstylist, and nail technicians are all moms of small children) and I could take Henry with me when I needed a little pampering.
6. Embrace ALL of it.
The one thing everyone tells you when you’ve got a newborn is this: “Careful, it goes by soooo fast”. I’ve heard it all kinds of ways: “You turn around and they’re graduating college”, or “Next thing you know, they’re a teenager and they don’t want anything to do with you.” I’m not one to ignore the signs, so every chance I have to soak it in, to stare at my precious little boy and really feel gratitude, to really feel “in the moment”, I do it. No matter where we are, the grocery store, at the changing table, when he’s asleep…any chance I can remember to, I try to slow down time.
I’m sure there are a bunch more tips I’m not mentioning here….so let’s continue this list in the comments. What are YOUR biggest tips for new moms, especially for that first crucial year?