True, each baby is different, but the process of discovering the tricks that work best with your new baby is a rite of passage you go through with every child.
It all got me thinking about some of the routine things that new moms can expect, and some practical advice in general thoughts on the whole experience.
It may seem like you are making huge sacrifices and changes as a new mom, and that’s because you are. But this newborn phase won’t last forever. So here are some things that you might experience, and what you might try to help you along the way.*
Ah. The Poops. Never again will you pride yourself on being so keenly aware of another human’s “waste management” schedule again. I hope the birthing process robbed you of all the queasiness, because you are now in the chapter of life where Other People’s Poop Matters. Your kid’s poop, specifically. You will agonize over the color and texture of your newborn’s doo doo, and you will be completely normal for it.
Watch as it transforms from dark meconium right after birth (clean this nasty stuff up as soon as you notice because it can really irritate your little one’s back side!) to lighter brown, to a mustard yellow with a seedy texture (if you’re breastfeeding).
But here’s God’s little gift to new parents: Newborn and infant poop—at least the kind they make when you’re nursing—really doesn’t smell all that bad. So, cheers for the little wins. Just know that The Poop will be changing color and texture over the first few weeks of your little one’s life, but of course make sure to run anything by your doctor that seems—or smells—unusual.
You? You don’t get any. Moving On.
There is nothing definitive to say here, because the truth is, babies are different and as a result, so are their inborn sleeping patterns. But all in all, newborns wake up. A LOT. All night.
I actually found this to be the most difficult part about adjusting to life with our first born. There is no “If –> Then” equation to getting a baby to sleep. In other words, if you do a certain thing, there is no guarantee that then he or she will always fall asleep. It’s kind of a crap shoot. Always. Babies are unpredictable like that.
Newborns respond to different methods of soothing, so you have to experiment. If nursing alone doesn’t work, try swaddling, or shushing, or holding them vertically and burping them, or walking with them, or taking them outside to get some fresh air and hear the sounds of nature. Try any combination of all of the above. You just have to keep going to find out what works for your baby.
Honestly? This can be exhausting. But soon you will start to see what your little one responds to, and then it gets a little easier. I personally found tips from Dr. Harvey Karp and “The Happiest Baby on the Block” to be incredibly helpful. The five S’s. Check out a helpful video clip here.
You can also look into sleep training. We didn’t do this for a myriad of reasons (the main one being, hearing my child cry for long period of time grips me with a pain so acute that I actually cannot physically handle not running to her side), but some parents swear by it.
I nursed my babies, so I am approaching this advice from that angle. First and foremost, use the lactation consultant at the hospital and have her explain to you what a good latch is. Have her show you several different positions for nursing, and see what feels best for you. Get her number to call her in the following weeks.
Chances are you will have questions about latching, pain, how often your baby is feeding, how to increase your supply, etc. use this resource the hospital provides to your benefit. Don’t worry about bothering them. Call of them as frequently as you need while you’re in the hospital, and if you have to call or visit afterward, do that as well.
Many hospitals also offer nursing support groups, so check that out if it’s an option as well. The bottom line is, use the help that is there. Also–nipple cream. (This one is the best.) lots of it.
Your newborn’s crusty brown belly snail will fall off in a week or shortly thereafter. If you’re a weirdo like me, you will keep it. (DON’T JUDGE.) Just don’t pull it or pick it. And don’t leave older siblings alone with the baby and when it’s out, or the temptation for them to pick at it may be too much too resist.
Do yourself a favor and accept the fact right now that your social life will change immediately, and drastically, following the birth of your child. This is normal and as it should be, although that doesn’t mean it’s any less difficult.
The journey of new motherhood is a solo one, as you and your baby figure out what works best for you. Eventually you will merge paths again with the people in your life, but don’t feel guilty or strange about being off the scene for a little while as you get your sea legs in motherhood. You’ll be back to Wine Wednesdays in no time, I promise.
Baby nails. Oh man. These suckers should be banned by the TSA and classified as lethal weapons. They hurt just as much the 1000th time they slice into the delicate skin on your chest as they do the first. Sorry.
Your newborn didn’t just do an hour of CrossFit; she doesn’t need a daily scrub-down with fragranced and majorly-lathering soap. Lightly wash her hair and diaper area with a fragrance-free and gentle soap every few days. We are using Aleavia’s products and loving them for Baby.
Your new, tiny human will send you on an endless orbit that cycles through love, enthrallment, frustration, fascination, confusion, exhaustion, obsession and back again. All of these emotions are valid. Feel them all.
And remember, no two birth and motherhood experiences are the same. You have to figure out your own unique dance with your child. It takes time to get to know each other. Be patient with her, and with yourself.
And remember–your kid is the best and the hardest project you will ever take on. The journey of early parenthood kinda crazy, but it’s all sorts of awesome.
And here’s a footnote: Please, please ask for help when you need it. If you aren’t feeling yourself weeks or months after the delivery, call your doctor and see what he or she thinks. Tell your partner or a trusted friend. Whatever you do, don’t go through it alone. There are many women who have walked your path, and there are many resources to get you back to feeling like your old self. It can happen, and it will. Just ask for help.
Friends: Any advice you would give new moms? What did you find to be the hardest and most rewarding parts of new parenthood? Holler at me in Comments below!
*Duh. I’m not a doctor so don’t take any of this for solid medical advice. Take it as advice from your well-meaning but slightly unhinged next door neighbor or girlfriend who, like you, is trying to figure it all out one step at a time.
Sonni Abatta is an Orlando lifestyle and mom blogger who writes about lots of stuff that’s not only mom- and lifestyle-related. Have an idea or want to feature your business or collaborate? Reach out to Sonni@SonniAbatta.com.