Some words of wisdom for first time mamas
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I originally wrote this post back in April of 2011 when I had only one child who was 1-1/2 at the time. While I did some updating to refresh it, I still feel compelled to give advice for moms to be when I see them out and about. For now, I am still able to resist!
I’ve always been a quiet person. I’ve never had a need to give random advice to others (especially strangers). That is until I became a mother. Now it sort of makes sense to me why mothers dole out advice — both wanted and unwanted — to their kids and random strangers. It is just in you.
When I’m shopping at Target and see a woman with a big belly perusing the baby department with a scan gun for her registry, I want to stop her and chat. Anywhere I go and see a couple who is pregnant with their first child, I feel the urge to tell them things. When I read status updates on Facebook of friends or family who are expecting their first child, I fight the urge to type all sorts of thoughts and advice. And even when childless friends talk to me about wanting to start a family someday, I have to stomp down my urge to overshare.
I do manage to keep my mouth shut with complete strangers. And I try to take it easy on my friends and family. Hopefully, I succeed. But, I want to somehow explain to them that they really don’t know what they’re in for. Having a child is so much harder and so much more wonderful than you can ever expect. Becoming a parent changes your world completely.
Practical advice for moms to be
I definitely have practical advice for moms to be. I would share what to really expect from labor and delivery — the things no one tells you, not even in the birthing class at the hospital. For instance, you will be amazed at how little you care about lack of modesty during the birthing process and even learning to nurse if you go that route.
Moms to be also need to know to buy plenty of feminine hygiene products. Get the largest pads made, and buy twice as many as you think you’ll need. Consider getting at least one package of adult diapers, which are also great for postpartum moms.
I’d share things like which infant tub is best because it will work for newborns to toddlers. We had a few styles and found this one worked best.
Also, I’d tell her which big toys really come in handy and which take up more space than they are worth. A baby play mat is awesome. And my daughter spent a lot of time hanging out in her bouncy seat. It saved my sanity to know she was strapped in somewhere safe.
I’d let her know that big swings aren’t worth it for the cost and space they take up. Not all babies like swings, my daughter didn’t care for the swing so much. If your baby does like to swing, though, having a portable swing takes up less space and lets you move it around the house with you. [I had to add in the portable swing, because my second child loved swinging and the portable swing was a lifesaver!]
I’d tell both parents to be to take time to shower and relax in those first few months whenever they had a chance. I’d tell them to ask for help and let a trusted person (grandparents are ideal) watch the baby for a bit even just so they could nap, run errands or (dare I say it) see a movie.
Emotional advice for moms to be
And there are more abstract tips and ideas I’d share. I’d tell them how the baby will take all of your energy and just when you’ve about had enough he or she will give you a smile for the first time. Suddenly your energy renews and your heart melts, even if it is 3 a.m. and you’re up for the third time since going to bed at 10 p.m.
I’d share that it might take time, but you will eventually adjust to living life completely for someone else. Eventually you will be able to find pieces of your identity again and remember sometimes that you are more than just a mom.
For sure I’d get advice to moms to be to worry less and enjoy more. For the first couple of months, I lived in fear every time I put my daughter down at night to sleep that she wouldn’t wake up in the morning. She’s a happy, healthy almost 19-month-old now. [And now a 13-year-old!]
I worried that if she saw a television show for even one minute she’d have ADD. She couldn’t care less about TV, and she’s as smart as can be. [She’s tested as high ability from kindergarten on.]
So many times I worried that I wouldn’t produce enough milk, and then I ended up with a chest freezer full. All that worrying for nothing. When we’re new moms we can put so much pressure on ourselves and worry about every little thing. Do your best to remind yourself that humans have been surviving for thousands of years. You can do this!
The truth about becoming a mom
You see, all this advice (and more!) bubbles up within me as I encounter new moms. I have lots to say. Instead, I smile. Or I say “Congratulations” if I know them. Internally, I want to warn them. I want to prepare them. But, I also know that no one can prepare you. It just isn’t possible. I thought I was prepared and knew what I was in for. I didn’t and, frankly, I couldn’t have.
Then again, I guess that’s part of the whole parenthood experience. And so you’re left with lots of advice. I’m sure there is untold advice around me from parents of older children about what will be coming my way. On the other hand, I’m not sure I want to know, yet. I’m also pretty sure that I won’t really get it until I experience it for myself. That’s just the way life is.