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As soon as I announced my first pregnancy, I received a flood of advice from nearly every person I talked to. It was slightly overwhelming, but looking back, I wish I would have taken their wisdom to heart. Part of me thought that I knew better, but part of me just honestly didn’t know how drastic of a transition motherhood would be.
Now that we just had our second sweet baby, Saxon, I have completely and fully applied the words that I received in the past.
I can honestly say that the advice that I’ve listed below has shifted the way that I parent and has drastically increased the joy that I’ve experienced during the newborn stage. I feel more present, I’m much more pleasant to my family and I am taking far better care of myself during this season of life.
1. Sleep when baby sleeps
I know, I know. You’ve heard this over a million times. And so many moms will say, “That’s not possible” (I always did.) But it is absolutely possible and even more necessary.
Momma, hear me on this! Your messy house can wait. The dishes can wait. This season passes so quickly and it is crucial that you enjoy your little one and care for yourself. The less important things can be put on the back burner for this short time.
Your sanity relies so heavily on your sleep; you, your husband and your children will be thankful that you are rested. With my second baby, I have chosen almost daily to take a nap during one of his naps. This isn’t always easy because I have a toddler, but I do try, even if it’s a quick 20 minute power nap!
And remember – the lack of sleep is only for a season. Keep your eyes set on the horizon and know that you will (eventually) get a full night’s sleep. And one day, you might even miss this. 😉
2. Know beforehand that breastfeeding can be frustrating and challenging
I asked women in a Facebook mom group to share their number one piece of advice for new moms. Nearly all of them said that they would prepare women to be aware of how truly difficult breastfeeding could actually be.
If you’re having a hard time getting your baby to latch, if you’re in excruciating pain, if it’s just incredibly frustrating, even if you just hate it – you’re definitely not alone. You might even be part of the majority.
My first experience with breastfeeding was stressful and completely unenjoyable. I exclusively pumped for over five months then found out that Sutton was allergic to my milk and had to switch him to a specialty formula. My experience with Saxon is completely different and the beautiful bond that I experience when I nurse him is unexplainable.
I quickly learned that the most important thing that every momma must realize is that fed is best. If you are unable to breastfeed, or choose not to, it does not mean that you are a failure. It also doesn’t mean that you love your baby any less simply because you are feeding them a different type of milk. Ignore those who say otherwise. If you are feeding, loving on and caring for your baby, YOU’RE DOING AN INCREDIBLE JOB!
Note: [Your hospital and other resources like The La Leche League are always incredibly helpful if you need additional guidance or help with breastfeeding!]
3. Don’t overdo it during recovery
Recovery is different for everyone. When I came home from my first delivery it took weeks to even walk or sit comfortably. There have been so many moms that I’ve talked to who just didn’t expect the recovery to be so grueling.
Our advice: Ask the nurses for extra Witch Hazel and numbing spray and request stool softeners while you’re still in the hospital.
Also, please give yourself grace. If all that you can do in the first couple of weeks is feed and hold your baby, that is perfect! Remember that you just pushed a HUMAN out of your body. Even if you feel well enough, don’t overdo it. Your body just went through something huge and needs time to recover.
Also Padsicles are amazing! They are frozen pads with Witch Hazel and Aloe Vera that help to expedite healing. If you can find time, make some before you go into delivery. You won’t regret it.
4. Take a shower often (and everything else you need to do that makes you feel human.)
This may be the most important piece of advice I can offer: Momma, no matter how hard you try, you just cannot pour from an empty cup. You must fill up your own in order to give your best to your sweet family.
I took a shower every 3-4 days with my firstborn and felt so gross (night sweats and milk spit-up don’t make for the freshest skin or hair), I ran myself ragged with lack of sleep and I didn’t take any time to myself. As a result, I stopped feeling ‘human’ pretty quickly.
This time around, I made the decision in advance to take a shower every day – even if it only lasts for three minutes. I even take the time to read a few pages of a book and do face masks every once in a while! It may be short-lived because one of the baby’s starts to cry, but the effort reminds me that I’m still worthwhile.
Sweet friends, take care of your needs! Force yourself to get out of the house and into the sunshine daily. Exercise when you can. Ask for help often and don’t feel guilty for doing so – it truly does take a village!
5. Take postpartum anxiety and depression seriously
I was about eight months postpartum before I realized I had postpartum anxiety. Up until that point, I just thought that I was a horrible mom who was terrified of her baby with no reason behind it.
If you feel like you just have baby blues, if you’re tired, if you’re afraid to be alone with your baby, if you feel anything at all that doesn’t seem normal to you – take care of it right away! Anxiety & depression can make following through with the most basic tasks seem impossible. If you even think that you might be going through it, I want to lovingly encourage you to talk with someone – your doctor or counselor – to help you cope.
6. Cherish every moment
I wrote an entire post on this because it is so crucial to remember. Sweet friends, please remember that everything changes so quickly. The only thing constant with a new baby is constant change. The exhaustion, the stress and the new role you’re adjusting to – eventually it will all pass and become normal to you. It will be so normal that you won’t be able to imagine what life was like before this exhausting little angel entered your life.
But please remember that the sweetness passes, too. The precious moments of cradling a baby in your arms in the middle of the night will eventually come to an end forever. That sweet newborn smell won’t last. The time when you are everything that your baby needs is destined to end. So please, please soak in the sweet moments every chance you get.
Beautiful momma – God sees you and loves you. Lean on Him in this challenging and beautiful season of life. He cares about the smallest of details – and that includes the late, exhausting nights and the multitude of emotions that you’re experiencing. Lift them up and allow Him to carry your burdens and share with you in your joys.
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Lindsey Maestas is a Christian based out of Albuquerque, NM. She is a wife to a loving husband and a stay-at-home-mom to a sweet little boy with another little one on the way. She received her degree in Journalism and is a writer for the faith-based lifestyle blog, sparrowsandlily.com. She loves Jesus, event planning, baking and binge-watching Netflix with her husband. Find her on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.