I recently visited my sister after her second baby was born, and instead of feeling baby hungry after I left, I was reminded of how hard the first few weeks and months with a newborn are. You’re exhausted, your body hurts and doesn’t feel normal, and you’re mentally trying to adjust to the fact that there’s a tiny little person living in your house whose life is 100% in your hands. It’s flat out hard.
We’re especially vulnerable and sensitive in the weeks after having a baby, and it can be hard to stay positive and not feel weighed down. I think back to when my babies were all born, and even though I didn’t suffer from postpartum depression, there were definitely moments of doubt, sadness, and anxiety, especially during the months our youngest had colic.
Today, I want to talk to all new moms and tell them what I wish someone would have told me. Here are 7 things all new moms need to hear after having a baby:
1. Don’t stress about your body. I mean it. Don’t compare your body to anyone else’s, love it for what it is and what it has done, and be grateful for what it is and what it has done. Your body is AMAZING, and the last thing you should be thinking about after having a baby is what you look like in the mirror. Don’t even think about dieting or about getting back to your pre-pregnancy weight, and don’t step on a scale or try to fit into your pre-pregnancy jeans for at least a few months postpartum. The first few weeks and months after having a baby are not the time to worry about your weight. All women who have ever given birth in the history of forever have had that weird wiggly belly for a while, and unless you’re a movie star and can afford to have a personal chef and personal trainer, it’s going to stick around for a while. Not only is that normal, it is what should be expected without any thoughts or comments from yourself or anyone else.
2. Ask for help. Girl, you’re going to need help. Whether it’s asking a fellow mom or your own mom for advice, asking a teenager to come babysit for an hour so you can go to the grocery store, or even asking a neighbor to grab you some milk while they’re at the store because you’re out, help is good. And you’re going to need help whether it’s your first baby or your third baby (trust me). We all need help, and we should all be willing to give help to any new mom who asks, or even who doesn’t ask.
3. Read about postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety so you’ll recognize the warning signs in yourself. Postpartum depression and postpartum depression are so real, and it’s almost unfair that you can have that added trial during your baby’s first year of life. They’re more than just feeling sad or stressed, and they are very, very treatable. You should never suffer “just one more day,” because that one more day is one more day of suffering. So be aware of the warning signs and tell someone close to you if you think you might be suffering.
4. It’s okay if it feels hard. It is. Something we do in our society is that we highlight good feelings and shame bad feelings. It’s almost there’s an unspoken rule that you’re not allowed to feel bad about things. I mean when was the last time you asked someone how they were and they told you they were bad? Mamas, being a new mom is hard, and it’s okay to feel that feeling. I’d actually be surprised if you didn’t feel that way. Even with my first baby, who was my easiest, there were still times where motherhood felt really hard. Acknowledge that it’s okay to have that feeling, feel it, and then try to figure out what to do to make things better. I promise it will get better, and you’ll get through it, one day at a time.
5. It’s okay if you feel lost and unsure. We all do. When you’re a new, first-time mom, you’re beginning on a journey you’ve never been on before. You’re going to come up against challenges you never expected and questions you don’t have the answers to. But I believe with all my heart that you are the only perfect mother for your child, and you are the one who is best suited and best equipped to take care of them. So even if you feel lost and unsure, that’s okay. We’ve all been there. Turn to friends, your pediatrician, your mom, or even Facebook to ask your questions. Someone out there will have the answers you’re looking for.
6. It’s okay if you don’t immediately bond with your baby. You will. You hear stories of moms who see their baby for the first time and immediately feel this explosive, all-encompassing love for them. But you should know that for a lot of moms, it doesn’t happen that way. It might take a few days or maybe even longer to feel that bond with your child. But rest assured, it will come. Just keep trying and never, ever give up. Your baby will be patient.
7. You’re not alone. You might feel like you’re alone because you’re stuck at home with a tiny baby and haven’t spoken to an another adult in hours, but you’re not. You might feel alone when you’re nursing your newborn every two hours during the night while your husband sleeps soundly in bed next to you, but somewhere, there’s another mama doing the exact same thing and feeling the exact same way. Motherhood doesn’t alienate us, it connects us together. When you become a mother, you join this tribe of women all around the world and throughout all history, all of whom have gone through the same things. Your’e not alone, because you’re a mother, and we all have each other’s backs. They say it takes a village to raise a child, but I think it also takes a village to raise a mother. We need each other, and even though our families might not look exactly the same, we’re all just doing our best to raise the best people we can. We’re all in this together.
Being a new mom is hard. I’ll definitely give you that one. But before you know it, you’ll be an experienced, seasoned mom and you’ll be the one helping new, younger moms who need to hear what you’ve learned. Hopefully at least one of these things all new moms need to hear after having a baby has spoken to you. I truly believe every single one, and I hope if you’re a new mom reading this, you’re starting to feel a little more hopeful already! Good luck, mamas! You’ve got this!