Thursday, 8 September 2016

First-Time Mama: 12 Tips I Wish I Would Have Known

Photo Credit: The VERY talented and sweet Adriana Bryce Photography

I had so much fun writing this I really hope you all enjoy!

1. Be willing to say "no"
I said "yes" way too many times in those first weeks home with my babe. We had my son right around Easter weekend, family get-togethers were happening and everyone wanted to meet our little guy. I remember my dad asking me if I was coming to a large family gathering (like 10+ people) just 5 days after my son was born. My first feeling was no, I needed to rest and, believe me, I was overwhelmed already. But then the guilt set in. Think of all the people who wanted to meet him? Thankfully I stuck to my "no", but there were many other times I said "yes" when I really wanted to say "no" only to please everyone else. Do what works for you, don't feel the pressure to make everyone else happy.

2. Don't try to be whatever "normal" looks like to you, do what works for you
This goes right along with point number one. For me, getting out of the house as soon as possible, and attending every family gathering was my idea of "normal" with a newborn. It really was what I expected everyone else did right after having their baby. I struggled so much in the first weeks feeling that if I was home too many people were going to think I was depressed and yet being out too much for me was beyond exhausting and stressful. So I gave in every time to the pressure I put on myself to be what I thought was "normal". Round two I guarantee I will do whatever I feel like I want to do. If I choose to stay home for a whole month that is what I am going to do.

3. Take it easy
I am not sure why we put so much pressure on ourselves to have ourselves totally put together days or even hours after our baby is born, or have an immaculate house. Truth is who gives a crap what anyone else thinks?! Stay in your PJ's all day long and do your best to enjoy these first few weeks with your new little one. Don't pressure yourself to get all dolled up, or clean your house just because guests are coming over.

4. Breastfeeding isn't always as natural as they say it is
Oh, golly me. Yes, I really did think as soon as my son was born he would crawl up my body, find the milk-makers and latch himself on as if he had done it a thousand times. Umm no. For some it works out for them right from the gecko, for others it really does feel like the least natural thing ever! My baby literally screamed at the boob from the day he was born. I remember calling nurses to come into the room confused as to why he would not just suck? Sure enough the issue went on for so long, and my son lost so much weight we had to top him up with formula in the hospital to get his weight up. All that to say, it may work out for you right away and it may not.  Some of these tips will be especially helpful since rest, less stress and healthy eating will help get your milk if that is partially the problem.

5. Carry poop bags
Ha, on a less serious note: So I walked into the health unit, took off my baby's diaper to weigh him and tossed his wet pee diaper into their tiny garbage pail. The health nursed looked at me as if she was in disbelief. "umm you can't leave that here, you have to take that with you." Ok makes sense and some of you are probably like um DUH! But by golly, could it have been any more of an embarrassing moment? I slowly bent over, scrummaged through the garbage (because we all know the heavy diaper went straight to the bottom) and tossed the diaper into my diaper bag as a take home. Yes, the truth is you have to carry poop bags. You can't leave your diapers just anywhere.

6. Ask for help
Always be willing to ask for help! We had to top my son up with formula in the hospital and I really was ok with it, but to be honest I never expected I would be giving him formula. I had worked so hard over the three days at the hospital to breastfeed and having a nurse come in minutes later to tell me we were discharged since he was now eating formula was incredibly overwhelming. Even just the idea that I didn't have formula at home and we were going to have to go out and buy some was overwhelming. I remember just melting down in the room. Crying uncontrollably. The only thing that brought me comfort was the thought of calling my Mother-in-law to come over and just be with us at home. So sure enough I called her up, and asked her if she could just come over and hold my son while I bought formula, unpacked and got myself in order. Don't be afraid to ask for help, it makes all the difference.

7. You may just be extra extra emotional thanks to hormones
Oh the tears. I cried uncontrollably, especially when I saw babies! Like what the? It was insane, those first few months your hormones are all over the place. Expect you may just cry a little more, or be a little more moody, or want to cuddle every newborn baby you see (while your sobbing with happiness).

8. Your milk-makers will hurt
I have yet to meet someone who's nipples didn't hurt in the first two months of breastfeeding. But I can promise you as long as there is no underlying issue like Thrush it will get better! I promise.

9. Formula feeding is ok too
Oh the formula debate. I may just rub some people the wrong way but I am ok with that. I am pretty passionate about this topic and have a very hard time with people shaming people who formula feed. Yes we all know that breastfeeding is great. Studies have shown there are infection-fighting antibodies in breast milk you can't get from formula and it will help protect your baby from certain diseases and infections. However, there are many situations where moms cannot breastfeed or just choose not to for whatever their reasons are, and by no means are we one to judge. My son needed formula in the hospital, he had lost more than 12% of his weight and there was nothing we could do about it. All that to say, formula is a perfectly good alternative for your baby, the important thing is your baby thrives. I am saddened when I see Mothers (as I was myself) incredibly worked up that they are giving their baby formula as if it is poison. It is the farthest thing from it, so embrace you are caring for your baby the best way you can!

10. Your baby will poop a lot more than you ever thought he or she could
Oh my, I never expected I would change diapers 12 times in one day. But it is true you will change about 12 diapers per day in those first few months!

11. It's ok to feel like it is hard
Your going to have hard days. It is inevitable. Your baby may just cry for what feels like no reason, she may just want to be held all the time, he may struggle to latch on, you may be up all night long. It may just feel hard sometimes and that is ok. I think it is very important to be able to share these emotions with someone even if it just your spouse. Don't just stuff them away. Cry a little, talk a little and if you have some great supporting friends invest in getting together with them just to chat and be honest sometimes.

12. Not everyone has their ideal birth plan
I know we all have an idea what we want our birth plan to look like, I had a dear friend who as soon as she told me her story I thought YES that is what I want my birth plan to look like! Sure enough at around 30 some odd weeks we found out my son was breech, we attempted to flip him but it failed. So at 38 weeks we were certain (unless he flipped himself) we were having a c-section. Sometimes  your plan does not work out, this is not to say don't make a plan but hold the plan loosely because you never know what could happen.

The last thing, you will NEVER understand how you could ever love something so much! Be prepared to be rocked!

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