Still remember when you are expecting your first child, how did you feel? Were you overwhelmed with happiness and well-wishes from your family and friends? Or did fear and uncertainty sink in because you are afraid of being inadequate as a new mother?
I remembered when I first gave birth to my firstborn, I had mixed feelings.
I love my son. However, I couldn’t believe I am a mom. I was worried about everything – literally everything. Why is my baby crying? Why is my milk supply not kicking in? How do I change diaper for him? How can I carry him and make sure he is comfortable? Why is my C-Sect wound so painful? My hormones did not help at all, as these negative emotions started to overwhelm me. On top of these, confinement had not been enjoyable as I was learning to cope with my new identity.
As time goes by, a heart filled with gratitude helped me overcome my self-doubts. As I am preparing for my 2nd child, I thought to share some tips with all of you. I believe we can all enjoy our motherhood journeys together and not look back with regrets.
Below are some of my tips for new mothers.
Disclaimer: It is based on my own experiences. As every mother has different experiences, you judge what is best for yourself.
Do Not Compare
“My friend’s baby can sleep throughout the night when the baby is only two months old.” Different babies react differently. They learn and adapt at different rate, but it does not mean your baby is “lousier” or you are more inferior. Do not compare, do not give yourself unnecessary stress. There is no point of being FOMO.
Learn to Ignore Advices
P.S. Please don’t ignore this piece of advice :p
You will realise that many people will shower you with their love by giving you many advices for you and your baby. They have no ill-intentions but Mamas, please don’t get pressurised if they do not fit into your belief system. If you are uncomfortable with the advice, you can choose to walk away. Do your own research to discern if it fits your current situation. That is what I did.
Be in a Community of Positive Mamas
When I just had my #1, I was at a loss of what to do. Even when you Google, there are too many answers on the net. However, I am thankful to have a group of mama friends that guided me. Their fast responses allowed me to know what to expect and how to react to the different situations. As a new mother, I am very grateful for this. In this digital age, support groups are just one click away (on WhatsApp or Facebook).
Do not be afraid to get help. It is not a shame when you ask for help. When people offer babysitting so that you can rest, do not reject their kind offer. That is the only way you can rest. When I am having my #1, I was shy to get help from my parents-in-law. However, it was tough to get sufficient rest. Hence, with my #2 arriving soon, I know help is extremely important as I will be handling a toddler and an infant at the same time.
No Rush to Get Back to Shape
Body image inferiority may creep in. However, do not force yourself to get back to your pre-pregnancy clothes within 2 weeks. When I had my firstborn, my clothing size increased from Small to Large. Take your own pace, with sufficient rest and exercise, to get back to shape. It took me almost 4 months before I could fit into some of my old clothes. The most important thing is for you to be healthy!
Sleep when your baby Is sleeping! That is one thing I would say to make sure your sleep adds up to 9 hours. So take the chance to sleep/ rest when you baby is sleeping. When you have sufficient sleep, you will feel better too.
Trust Your Mama Instinct
If you think that something is wrong, trust your instinct. When I had my first-born Josiah, I felt that sometimes he cries because he is uncomfortable with a full diaper. Once I changed his diaper, his crying stops. You know your baby best, have faith in your maternal instinct.
In order for you to provide adequate nutrients and stay strong, you need to eat well. You cannot have a sick mama taking care of a baby. It is important to stay healthy – you need to take care of yourself first before you can take care of your baby.
You Cannot Plan Everything According to What You Wanted
I had a lot of plans before my #1, such as going through natural birth with no epidural; breastfeed him till baby is 2 years old; when he’s 6 months old I wanted him to start on baby-led weaning; having a schedule to follow for his feedings, etc. In actual fact, things might not go according to your plan. As a new mother, do not be disheartened, just do your best for the current situation you are in.
It is Okay to Make Mistakes
Being a new mother, you are not a genius! You might have read tons of different books about parenting or tips on how to take care of newborn. However, don’t be afraid to make mistakes. We learn together from our mistakes, you do not need to be right all the time.
Take More Photos
Sweet moments of your baby are precious – Capture more photos with your smartphone. When you look back at the past photos, you will enjoy the memories of your child’s growing up process. I will sometimes joke with my husband “who is this baby” when I saw my firstborn’s changes.
Do not Neglect Your Partner
Do not forget who is your first love. Never neglect him because of motherhood, as it is easy to lose sight of the relationship. He is the one who is constantly beside you, cheering you on for this parenthood journey. Do make time for each other.
You are Not Alone. (Postpartum Anxiety is Real)
I remember after having my #1, I felt worried all the time, uneasy and always doubting myself. It went on for weeks. When I told my fellow mamas, they reassured me with “Don’t worry, I felt the same way as you before!” That was when I realized I was not alone in this journey, and that gave me a lot of strength to carry on.
They also exchanged many ideas with me on how to cope with postpartum anxiety. Remember, no matter how strong you are, emotional struggles are inevitable. A listening ear goes a long way. You are not alone!
Many mothers will be able to resonate with this video.
The above tips might not be the best tips, but I hope it can ease some of your stress as a new mother so that you can have a happier journey in motherhood. Embrace and treasure this journey because it is unique and precious. The most important thing is your well-being, and that both baby and mama are healthy!