Friday, February 13, 2009

Advice to a New Mother (Whose Own Mother is AWOL)

One of my best friends—let’s call her Darwin—is due to give birth to her first child (a son) in a couple of weeks. This pregnancy was the result of years of trying, a journey that featured an ugly ectopic and expensive IVF. Her mother, who is nutty but usually endearing (I’ve known her since I was about 12), decided that the birth of her only grandchild could not compete with an offer to travel to another country (where she will be mostly incommunicado) for four months. Dar is one of the most good-humored, stable people I know, and she’s incredibly tough (she endured an ovarian torsion with nothing but Tylenol and then had to have emergency surgery for it in her 8th week of this pregnancy, and she’s still walking a mile and a half to work and back every day), but she’s a little apprehensive about this whole new baby thing, and I think that having a newborn is an experience that can be smoothed by a little bit of reassurance from the battle-tested.

Here’s the assignment: for those of you who have some experience in this area, what was the ONE—choose only one!—most helpful piece of advice you received during this time (or if you received no helpful advice, what is the one piece of advice you have to offer)?

Keep it pithy—she’s too sleep-deprived at this point in her pregnancy to focus on long sentences—and I will depart from my policy of never deleting real comments if anyone leaves a horror story.

UPDATE: Check out the nursing basket Dar made based on the advice here:



Some serious nesting going on.

102 comments:

Mert said...

Oooh! First! My advice is.....do what's best for you and your family, despite what veteran mothers, books, experts, and yes, even doctors, might say. A lot has changed in 30 years, so in-laws advice can be chucked right out (sleep on their stomach so they won't inhale their own vomit! see also: get her on a schedule at 3 days old!) No, I'm not bitter! Absorb everything form the magazines, books, non-solicited advice-givers, and then pick out what's practical and workable for your situation. The world will not end if you do XYZ instead of ABC. The end.

Dappled Green said...

I have 2 short pieces of advice, will remain pithy.
#1--You know more than you think you do.
#2--You and the baby are a team. It's your first time being a mom and his first time being a baby so you are both figuring a lot out. It's perfectly okay to tell him what you need from him also and you might be surprised at the fact that he seems to understand that.

Katie said...

De-lurking (I'm a fellow doctor mama about to finish residency) to give two short bits: (better than one long)
1) there is no such thing as a newborn schedule
2) until 3-4 mos of age most babies need to be "worn down" to sleep (ie held or rocked)--they can't self-soothe until 4 mos old

Cobblestone said...

1. Askmoxie.org
2. It is beautiful, awe inspiring, breathtaking, and swell. It may not be fun. That's ok.

Marta said...

People will start asking if your baby is sleeping through the night far sooner than your baby will ever sleep through the night. Interpret this question not as a judgement ("why isn't your baby sleeping through the night like a normal baby?") but as inartfully worded concern about how you're holding up with the inevitable sleep deprivation.

If you hear the words "manipulation" or "bad habits" with regard to anything you're doing with your newborn, run the other way.

There are so very many ways to get this parenting thing right, and honestly only a very few ways to do it really wrong, and you're just not in that latter category of parents.

I know that was three, sorry!

Sara said...

Seconding the "You know more than you think" comment.
And adding that everything is a stage, both the good and the bad, and will pass.
And the people who say that they grow up so quickly, and make you want to poke them right in the eyes because right now you're sleep-deprived and vomit-covered? Well, they're right.

mary said...

Accept and ask for help with cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc. =)

Becky said...

Breastfeeding can be very hard. Make yourself small goals i.e. I will make it through this nursing session, I will make it through the next 24 hours, etc

You burn roughly 300 extra calories a day- have your favorite candy bar handy at 3 am to remind you of just how sweet those 300 calories can be.

Invest in a good NetFlix subscription

Shell said...

I second the breastfeeding is hard so make smaller goals more often to get through it.

Babies will cluster feed at around 5 - 6 weeks to let your body know he'll need more milk to sustain a growth spurt. You're making enough milk. You will think you aren't and that you are starving your baby, but you are and he'll be fine.

Breastfeeding is 85% mental. If you THINK your supply is adequate and he is growing, your supply is adequate. Very few women actually have gallons of pumped milk in the freezer - regardless of what they tell you - so don't compare yourself to others.

Orange said...

First, I have my childbirth tip (learned the hard way): If you have an epidural, if you have a killer headache afterwards (especially when you lift your head off the pillow) and painkillers don't work on it, tell the doc you think you have a spinal headache and need an epidural blood patch. The first few days can be difficult and exhausting enough as is—no need to tolerate a crippling headache, because it's not a normal postpartum thing. (Yes, this only happens in a small percentage of epidurals, but if you're in that small percentage, I don't want you to be as miserable as I was.)

Second, practice saying sweetly "We've made the choice that works for our family," and use it whenever someone asks the inevitable intrusive questions. Are you breastfeeding? Did you have him circumcised? Is she on a schedule yet? Why isn't that baby wearing a hat? Did you have natural childbirth? Strangers and mere acquaintances will ask questions, and they're not entitled to a candid answer—especially if their response would be to tell the mom that she's wrong.

Lylah M. Alphonse said...

1.) Sleep whenever you can. The housework can wait a few months.

2.) Take pictures. You won't remember the details, but a few years from now you'll wish you did.

3.) Trust yourself, and your instincts. As previous commenters have said, you know more than you think you do!

Congratulations!

Jen said...

1) We found that a swaddle wrap or miracle blanket worked wonders on the sleep front.

What everyone else said about knowing more than you think and trusting yourself is excellent advice I wish someone had give me!

Anne said...

I don't know what the current version of a front carrier is, but thirty plus years ago, when my daughter was 5 or 6 weeks old, we bought a Snugli, which seemed hugely expensive ($40)at the time, but was highly recommended. I wore her everywhere, tummy to tummy, and it was the greatest comfort I could give her; it soothed her when she was too tired and fussy to sleep; she could even drop off in it, and she quickly developed what I called her "Snugli smile" when she saw me get it out. I only wished I'd been smart enough to get it sooner.

2:17 PM, February 13, 2009

KDF said...

There is nothing wrong with putting your baby in your bed with you to get more rest the first few months. Even if you don't plan to cosleep over the long haul.

Cheree said...

A delurker who loves to share her 2 cents:
1) If you want to sleep with that baby – by God – sleep with that baby! You won’t roll over him/her and kill her. And you might as well get some shut eye while babe is on the boob.

1) Only listen to the advice you want, ignore the rest!

Jessica said...

I love my hotsling.

When you are changing sheets, layer a mattress pad, a sheet, another mattress pad, another sheet, so when baby pukes + at night, you can just strip one set off and not have to change sheets.

Jen said...

Rest, rest and more rest. Sleep when your baby sleeps (if you can), or just lie down and read/watch tv/whatever you find relaxing. Don't try and be super mom, slow down and savour the small daily pleasures that new babies bring, and rest so you're able to take on the hard work that comes along with them.

Oh, another quick one. Not everyone bonds/falls in love instantly with their new baby. And that's normal and okay. It happens at a different time for everyone, but it *will* happen...

Marin said...

Trust yourself.

Denise said...

1. "Ultimate crib sheet." Easier to change even than bedding "lasagna" (mattress protector, crib sheet, another mattress protector, crib sheet). They make the crib mattresses tight so the baby won't trap anything between mattress and bars--almost impossible to pull a sheet on and off, though, without taking the crib apart.

2. Sleep deprivation does bizarro things to your psyche. If you're feeling desperate, get someone to help you and take a nap.

Peggy said...

1. Drink lots of water - it will help with your milk supply.

2. For the first few weeks, don't try to accomplish anything more than sleeping, eating and taking care of the baby. Let others do the rest.

3. Get out of the house at least once a day - even if it's just to sit on the front porch for a few minutes while the baby naps.

Little Read Hen said...

Loud shushing right in their ear aproximates the sound of your heart or uterus or something. It is very calming. Be louder than you think would be comforting to you.

Also a space heater in the bathroom while they are in the bath keeps the air warmer and baby calmer if they don't like baths.

Good Luck!

Elizabeth said...

You've had most of the "big thing" advice that I would leave already, so I'll leave a little thing.

Many modern disposable diapers have a multilayer construction with a little "frill" at the outside layer around the legs. It is very easy to leave the frill tucked in under the diaper, instead of pointing out. Every time you change the baby, as the last thing, pull the frill out. If the frill is tucked in, it acts to wick liquids (and worse, semisolids) to the outside of the diaper. Ick.

pokeypuppy said...

Advice: Sleep..if you can't sleep well, do something about it and make it a priority to get some sleep. Sleep is very important for milk production and sanity.

silene said...

Use chuks on the changing table. Things can get awfully messy and it's nice to just wrap up the whole disaster and toss it - without having to remove and wash the changing pad cover. Also, the mess can spread to places you hadn't originally considered to be in danger (the wall, in our case.) Clorox wipes and a Mr. Clean eraser will take care of the smell and stain respectively.

OxyClean will remove just about any stain from clothing if you let it soak long enough. There is always at least one baby item soaking in our house at any given time, and some of them sit in their little bowls for several days at a time.

Elizabeth is 100% correct about the "frill".

Congratulations and ENJOY!

SAM said...

Breastfeeding can be pretty unpleasant at the beginning, what with the crazy milk supply and sore nipples. I quit at 5 or 6 weeks with my first child because of that. It was only with subsequent children that I learned that oxytocin is THE BOMB. Liquid peace. If you choose to breastfeed, I'd suggest you hang in there until 3 months. Then, let yourself be still and in the moment, and you will experience the joy of oxytocin.

Heidi said...

#1 - Trust your instinct. If you can't figure out what your instincts are, find some people with whom you resonate until you figure out what your own instincts say. Your instincts will almost always be right.

#2 - It's all okay. Even when it's not going well, it's okay. Baby will not be scarred, and miraculously, you will look back on the rottenness and mostly remember the goodness. Don't stress about the stress.

#3 - If you're breastfeeding, make a trade with your partner. Mine was I breastfeed, he does diapers whenever he's home. I felt a strong level of sanity with our trade, even though I still ended up doing diapers sometimes. It was nice to not be "in charge" of everything.

Anonymous said...

Breastfeeding doesn't come as naturally as you think it should. Ask for a lactation consultant in the hospital.

Stay in your pajamas for at least the first two weeks. Once you start getting dressed, people think you're ready to go.

EJW said...

Everything is a phase, especially for newborns. If it's going badly, your baby will grow out of it in a couple weeks. If it's going well, don't get cocky, because it'll all change soon enough!

No matter what, wondering if you're doing a good job means you are, because it means you care.

Beth said...

1. On day 10 post-partum (give or take a day or two), you may experience a mini-nervous breakdown ("what the fuck have I done?" "I can't do this!" etc.). This is purely hormonal, normal, and will pass in a day or two.
2. Starting at about week 2, start jotting down how long your baby's naps are and how far apart they are. A pattern will emerge, but it won't be based on the time of day. I.e. naps are not always at 9 am, but ARE usually 1 hour after the first AM waking.

L. said...

1) As Peggy said: for at least the first four weeks, as much as you are able given life constraints, give yourself permission to do absolutely nothing but learn how to be a mother. No chores, no cooking, no cleaning.

2) Even if you're totally not the co-sleeping type, and don't plan to for the long term, give it a try for the first few months. I say this because I did it (largely out of desperation initially) and it made mine so much more restful and the skin-to-skin contact (yeah hormones!) is hugely soothing.

3) You'll be okay. You're a great mom.

Perceval said...

Look for a postnatal doula who is also a trained lactation consultant. I had one, and she was GREAT.

Don't be afraid to ask for help.

Katie! said...

Seconding several points:

1. Breastfeeding is hard and not for everyone. If it doesn't work out, don't blame yourself and your baby will still be perfect.

2. Co-sleeping can be fab. It doesn't have to be all the time or forever, but those middle of the night feedings are a lot easier when you don't even have to get out from under the covers.

3. Take tons of pictures. You'll treasure them later, even if it's of the little one spitting up.

Congrats and good luck - you'll be great!

Tigermom said...

I hated sleeping with my kids (3). I love them, but cannot sleep with those noisy sleepers.

Loving mothers can also be NON co-sleeper, bottle feeders.

"We've made the choice that works for our family." Repeat.

Double or triple sheet and pad the crib mattress. Works for learning to keep undies dry at night too.

Erika said...

If people ask you what they can give, tell them a frozen casserole. And don't be picky--you'll be so hungry all the time you won't care what they made, esp. if you're breast-feeding.

jbondsgirl said...

So much good advice already!

1) Triple sheet the crib with mattress pads in between.

2) What Katie said about newborn being unable to self-soothe is TRUE. Do not let anyone with a Babywise book tell you differently. I learned that one the hard way and still have motherguilt for it.

3) You'll wind up crying and at the end of your rope in the wee smalls one morning. But it will get better. And it's natural to really dislike your child at that moment, no matter how much you love him or her.

You're going to do great!

~Flicka

Ev said...

Let the nursery take the baby at night while in the hospital, take an am.bien if needed and get two nights of solid sleep! It maybe the last eight-in-a-row for the next couple of years.

Jackie said...

Don't be afraid to say no. There will be lots of people wanting to offer this and that, and in the end it's your decision. If someone wants to come for a visit, and you need a nap, then take the nap!

Mary said...

1) Tell other people to shut up with their "theories." Every baby is different.

2) Whenever you buy new clothes for the baby, go ahead and buy 2 of whatever you're buying in the next size up - because there will come that day when you realize all of a sudden that baby doesn't fit into the old size anymore, and you now have 2 whatevers to get you through until you can clothes shop. We still do this with our first son, and he's 3 1/2!

Jess said...

Some people say if breastfeeding is painful, you're doing it wrong. Screw those people. It hurts, but, with both my kids, the pain peaked at around 3 days and then was gone in about 3 more.

Olulu said...

There is nothing done that cannot be undone. I remember wigging out when my daughter was 3 weeks old and still sleeping in our room (we are not family bed or room people), and was convinced that unless we moved her to her own room NOW, she'd be in ours until she was 16.

Seems like an overreaction, but wow, is that what motherhood is like. The arrival of the kiddo is such an upheaval, everything else takes on Momentous Importance.

So remember, there is nothing you do/forget to do that can't be easily rectified by the next day if not the next minute.

(and to sneak in another piece ... they are lumps for the first 3 months, so if you feel you're not interacting or stimulating enough, don't worry, and just relax. there will be much more energy spent interacting soon enough)

heatherG said...

Best comments are; "you're doing a great job of being his mummy and it will get better"

Joanne said...

I am about to have my third and am LOVING these comments. Instead of giving advice, I'll just say that every morning when I wake up I tell myself that today is not the day that I'm going to go to the loony bin or prison. It's been both much, much harder for me to be a mother than I thought it would be and has come much more naturally than I thought it would. It is one effed up paradox after another. Good luck!

punkymama said...

My Mother is very absent from my life. I moved into a new house 2 weeks before my first son was born. I have to say my husband came and took BF classes with me and read stuff about babies on the internet to be a substitute Mom. He was very supportive and helpful. I can remember he would calm the baby when we had nursing issues when I was having trouble latching him.

Another idea is a post partum doula. They will do your laundry, help with meal prep, and can help with general baby questions and nursing questions. Even a few times a week after your husband goes back to work will help.

Good Luck

Anonymous said...

The best advice I got was, sleep when the baby sleeps. And sometimes a hot shower will be the highlight of your day. Also, try to stay mobile, invest in a good carseat, stroller, baby carrier. And use them as much as possible, it saved my sanity to leave the house every day.

Anonymous said...

perfection does not apply to babies.

babies will survive about anything and will not remember/hold a grudge that you didn't do something a certain way.

the house cleaning will wait...and wait..and wait...let it

Take people up on offers of help.Clean my bathroom!
wash my dishes!
pick up some food!
yes! I am allowed to be selfish!

invest in a sugglie..carry that baby if you HAVE to...hands free!

Wine.

scissorbill said...

Every baby is different-listen more to your baby than any so called experts.

Leslie said...

When people offer to help ask for something specific - a casserole, do a load of laundry, make a grocery run. People like to help but often need specific direction.

Keep your sense of humor about wallowing in bodily fluids because newborns leak!

And congratulations! With all the discomfort, sleep deprivation and uncertanty comes the beginning of a wonderful journey.

Anonymous said...

1) Miracle Blanket -- truly a miracle, but they are too big for newborns, plan to use it around 6 weeks until 4 or 5 or 6 months

2) All (or most) newborn toys, books, etc are worthless. Babies don't need the stimulation. Your face, voice and surroundings are enough. I got this advice a tad too late from a midwife when I mentioned my son was really frantic, fussy and hard to console late in the afternoon. I cut out he extra stimulation and everything calmed down immediately.

3) For me at least the initial baby stage was challenging with my 1st. But, it really passes by so quickly. And babies change so fast. If you aren't loving a stage, don't worry - it won't last long.

Cory said...

The morning I met my daughter's pediatrician, he said "you never 'know' your child", i.e. be open to your child changing all the time.

Color Dynamic said...

Buy a sling. You will need and want your hands free and a snugli or bjorn is just gonna hurt in the long run. Wear your baby as much as you want too.

Anonymous said...

de-lurking for things I didn't know with my first:

after your newborn gets a bath, they turn a little blue until you quickly put their clothes on - is totally normal

when you change your newborn - the change in temperature makes golden showers - even for girls. Change carefully

if you ever use a bottle - every baby has their own preference, don't stock pile one type, your baby could either love the 9 peice pricey bottle or the 3 peice dollar store bottle, there is no right or wrong, just whatever the baby will eat from. Figure out what works and go with it.

Oh - forget burp rags - cloth diapers and bar cloths work longer and are bigger.

clare said...

If you are breastfeeding, try to have a big glass of iced water on a nearby table every time you sit down to feed, you may be how amazed how thirsty you are (some of the hospitals give you one to take home too).

Everyday Superhero said...

This is such a great way to help your friend. Awesome.

Anyways, my advice is the following:

1. Some babies spit up. Unless it's more than what would fill a dinner plate, or it's able to hit the wall when you're holding the baby in the middle of the room, it's normal. Irritating if you've just emptied your breasts, but normal.

2. Swaddle. Holy hell. Swaddle. The baby will probably cry as you pin his/her arms and legs, and he/she will probably struggle. But it works.

3. It's normal to cry. I used to cry with my babies when life got too overwhelming. A warm baby is very comforting.... and babies are totally not judgmental!

4. Ice diapers. Pour some water into some newborn diapers and freeze them. Slip one into your panties post-birth to bring down swelling. The added bonus is that diapers absorb the gunk oozing out of you!

Good luck to your friend.

Wendy said...

Ask to see the lactation consultant at the hospital if you're breastfeeding. Even if everything is going great, it's good to make contact with someone that you can call when you have questions.

Swaddle. We used a kiddopotamus and it made such a difference.

In the first several months of breastfeeding, put something over the boob you're not feeding from while nursing--a nursing pad, burp rag, cloth diaper or you'll leak all over the baby and have to change him after you just put him to sleep.

Accept help.

Know that everything changes so quickly with babies. Try not to feel hopeless when he's not sleeping or crying all the time. It will pass.

Leave the house every day after the first few weeks.

bkat said...

No matter how bad you think your voice is, sing. For your baby, and for yourself. Any song works, even if you can't remember all the words. My baby is 34 years old and I can still remember the song. Humming it makes all the sweet memories come back.

Rachel said...

Congratulations to your friend!

Babies cry, sometimes for no good reason. They wont die from crying.

Nobody passes out awards for people whose babies do everything that the baby books say they should when it says they should.

r3 said...

Ignore the housework as long as you are able to stand it. Accept housework help. If you have no help, ignore the cleaning that needs to be done. The housework can and will wait. No biggee.

Buy as many old-fashioned thin cotton diapers in a jumbo pack. These make the best burp clothes. You cannot have too many. You will be wet, very, very wet with various fluids. Stash these in nooks and crannies everywhere, and you'll save yourself a lot of cleaning.

When you freak out due to hormones/sleep deprivation, let someone help. Really. And tell yourself it will get better. Because it does!

icsi said...

I brought home premmie twins with only DH to help no mum on hand no doula etc.

my advice is.
A. You can not spoil a baby if you need to hold him/her to get 5 mins of quiet DO IT.

B. the house will still be there the mess will still be there but your babe is only this age once, dont be ashamed to let the housework slide.

C. being a new mum is HARD if you want to cry for the love of small fluffy kittens. CRY.

leslie said...

Part of the reason that second babies are so much easier (most of the time) than first babies is that you know what kind of mother you want to be. Are you going to be the kind of mother who picks your baby up right away, or are you going to be the kind who lets the baby cry a few minutes? Are you going to give nothing but breast milk, or are you fine with supplementing some? I think your baby can be happy and healthy being raised many different ways. That said, you are going to be happier with some than others, and only you (and baby's dad) know what is most important to you. Don't let others undermine your confidence because it's not how they would do things.

One practical piece of advice: always keep a spare set of clothes for you in the trunk of the car. I always had extra clothes for the baby, but babies can sometimes leave you filthy as well, and it's nice not to have to finish your errands covered in baby spit-up or the entire glass of ice water that flailing arms knocked over on you.

winecat said...

No kids, therefore no advice but congratulations and enjoy this next step in your journey.

Anonymous said...

The Miracle Blanket. Buy 2, in case of midnight spit-ups/poop incidents.

Anonymous said...

Swaddle. I second the miracle blanket comment. A true lifesaver.

Good luck and best wishes.

Erin said...

Two pieces of advice:

1. Take people up on their offers of help when they ask if there's anything they can do. It makes your life easier AND it makes them feel good to be able to help you.

2. Don't forget to feed yourself! It's really easy to get so focused on feeding the baby that you forget about your own needs. Not eating enough along with not getting enough sleep makes you feel much less capable of handling everything. The sleep, you can't control. The food, you can.

Congratulations!

Anonymous said...

1. swaddle tighter than you think is necessary.
2. you have better instincts than you might think.
3. if something is working for you, stick with it even if someone tells you it is "wrong"

B.E.C.K. said...

1. Trust your own instincts.

2. Ask for and accept help.

3. A clean house is overrated and not worth as much as sleep.

Anonymous said...

1. Trust your gut and know that (most) anything that happens is not going to emotionally scar your baby for life.
2. Plan on doing nothing but nursing and bonding for 6 weeks.

Cindy said...

Read "The Happiest Baby on the Block". It saved my sanity after I practically had a breakdown from his lack of sleep. That guy has an inside track into how babies work.

Jennifer said...

Don't listen to any advice!

elizasmom said...

Delurking for this one:

If you're not one of those people who's able to deal with a messy house (no judgment implied to previous commenters, I wish I was able to do that!) then think about hiring a cleaning lady to come twice a month for the first month or two. You can find people in business for themselves, or who use natural cleaners, if that's important to you.

That way, you'll have one aspect of housework you don't have to worry about, and it will probably forestall a lot of arguments with your significant other.

Also, give yourself permission to admit to yourself (and your friends, if you have non-judgy ones) when you are so over this crying-all-the-time, stinky-pooping, ungrateful baby, and know that thinking so in that particular instant does not make you a bad mom for all eternity.

spa said...

Remember it gets easier.

Julie said...

1) Don't wake a sleeping baby. If your baby decides to sleep long stretches during the day, so be it, and take a nap yourself. Trust me, if you do what the books say and wake him up, he will not get the hint and sleep in longer stretches at night.

2) Front carriers keep your hands free: I liked the Baby Bjorn Active Carrier. The "Active" part distributes the weight across the back instead of just on the shoulders (be sure to tighten the the waist first, then adjust the shoulders); the Bjorn felt more secure to me than a sling.

3) Full size swing. Don't feel guilty about using it too much, like I did. You deserve to shower and eat meals.

4) Amazing Miracle Blanket. Much, much better than Swaddle Me or regular receiving blankets because you tuck the inner flaps underneath the baby and the outer flaps are very long, so the baby won't break free of it quite so soon. Really helped my daughter sleep.

Anonymous said...

My best advice is to modify your expectations of the nighttime. Being up in the night can really suck if you let it, or if you can manage to change your attitude, it doesn't have to suck quite as bad. I found that if I thought of the night wakings as a special time to focus on the baby without any distractions, I didn't mind them so much. When I was up at night, I would snuggle the baby, kiss and sniff his/her little head, and not worry about anything else I was supposed to be doing. I could read, watch TV, just sit and stare at the baby, whatever! Nobody expects that you will do anything productive in the middle of the night. Enjoy it!

My other advice would be to love your baby as much as you can, as hard as you can, as often and as strongly as you can. If any advice seems to you like it goes against that, then it's bad advice. Babyhood is so fleeting. Just hold and love and cuddle that baby and fill him up with so much love that he's ready to burst with it. Don't worry about bad habits, or training, or whatnot. Deal with those things in their own time, as they become a problem and if they become a problem. Until then, just love him.

Cari said...

Ignore the sizing info on diaper packaging. Regardless of baby's weight, when he's pooping up his back, it's time to go up in size. (Honestly, I'm on baby no. 2, and this is STILL the best advice I've ever gotten.) ;)

sue said...

Very best advice I received: a friend told me that she was in the hospital trying to breastfeed, but it was difficult and she was frustrated and crying.

"And then I thought: if a goddamn monkey can do it, I sure as hell can."

So when I was in the hospital trying to breastfeed, tired and thinking about giving up, I thought about the goddamn monkeys.

Dawn said...

Ask for a lactation consultant before you give birth to visit you. Demand one before you leave the hospital.

Also, I swaddled both my kids until they were 8 months old, and we get 12 hour sleeping here. Get a big receiving blanket, or contact me and I'll sell you a super duper foot-pocket one. ;)

And one more thing - around day 10 you will go nuts. You will cry, you will freak out that you're doing everything wrong and no one will be able to soothe you. This is normal, and will soon pass, as your hormones are crashing. That was a super important piece of advice that I've been handing out, and women so far have thanked me for warning them!

Congratulations! :)

Anonymous said...

Regarding breast-feeding, you'll want to get your nipples beat up/ready for the process long before you have to start. Putting the lotion on in the months before labor is helpful, otherwise you can get sore... REALLY REALLY REALLY SORE. No one tells you this.

kirsten said...

) If, for some reason, breastfeeding doesn't work out (and sometimes it doesn't), pump ONLY for as long as you can without making yourself go literally insane. I found pumping isolating and depressing, combined with a HUGE dose of "I am a terrible mother whose body isn't able to feed its offspring" guilt. Stopping pumping was one of the best things I ever did.

2) Remember, there of lots of mamas out here who love you and would delighted to help in any way we can. Call us!

Anonymous said...

1.) If you are breastfeeding, eat something and drink something every time you feed the baby. A granola bar, a piece of string cheese, a hard boiled egg, peanut butter crackers, whatever. Just eat something and drink something. Keep non-perishable snacks in the place(s) you feed the baby. Hormones make the most implacable of us emotional in the first months, and adding hunger to the list makes the smallest things seem insurmountable. You will require more food and water than you ever have and have less time to get it, so plan ahead.

2.) Get a baby swing. Don't be afraid to let your baby sleep in it.

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

From askmoxie it was the Malcolm X approach to sleep: by any means necessary.

Anonymous said...

1) Breastfeeding gets much easier by 6 weeks, even really nice and relaxing. It's something to look forward to, once your body and baby settle into it.
2) Don't judge yourself for the kind of birth experience you and your baby had. You will have done your best. Give yourself credit.
3) Most babies don't sleep through the night. Learn to prioritize your own naps too.
Enjoy!

Anonymous said...

If you are going back to work, start showering at night before you go to bed, rather than in the morning. Mornings are a MAD HOUSE trying to get everyone ready and out the door. It took me too long to figure this out!

JMB said...

Oh yes....
1. If breastfeeding, use thelactation consultant at the hospital, and more than once, especially to let you know what you need to watch for. You're both learning this, and there is a learning curve attached to each feedking. Each of my children had a different "style" of latching, nursing, burping, and the consultant ID'd the different things that I needed to be aware of.
2. The frozen diapers that Everyday Superhero talked about? Yes, oh dear God yes. My hospital provided them and they were almost as necessary as the pain meds. Ask for them, and change often.
3. Sleep when you can, and just realize that you will be working the night shift for a while. Acceptance that this is your new "job" just seems to make it easier. With my first, I tried to keep things too quiet at night. With #2, we had a comfortable love seat, a good boppy, and cable. Made the nights a lot easier until we got synched up. There will still be some where you want to scream and run from the house. YOU ARE NOT A BAD MOTHER, JUST HUMAN.
4. Get out of the house at least once a day, even if it is just to walk around Target or get some lettuce from the store. It will feel good to be in the real world again. Too much time in the house can overly magnify the emotions swinging all over the place.
5. (Hey, I'm a lawyer, words are my deal). You know what feels right, and what you can and can't live with. If a piece of advice feels wrong, ignore it. Read the books to pick up good nuggets, but don't be a slave. And finally? You will be doing a better job than you think you are.

Congrats!

Lisa said...

Breastfeed and nap when the baby naps. This is my personal advice as the mother of six. And no, I'm not crazy.

I feel obligated to add one more. Make everyone wash their hands before touching the baby. It's not rude to have that rule.

MrsSSG said...

You know your baby the best. let someone watch the baby to take a shower!

Anonymous said...

make sure you get lots of help from your husband/partner. if you are on your own, consider having a close friend stay over for the first week or longer.

Ottoette said...

Congratulations!
Make minimal eye contact at night time changings, feedings, etc. Eye contact raises the baby's blood pressure and wakes them up more - it's true!
Join a site like babycenter.com where you can post with other moms of baby's born the same time. It is very comforting.

sarah said...

you know your baby, and you know when something is just not right (or when everything is fine, even if someone else is convinced it is not.) be your baby's advocate. (even in the hospital or dr office)

it is okay to set the baby down in a safe place (swing, play pin, crib...) and go into another room to yell and cry for a few minutes. even if your baby is crying at the time. sometimes, crying together is comforting too.

it is absolutely okay to ignore advice from even your best of friends, and family members. even if you asked for the advice, it is still okay to ignore it.

that said, dont be afraid to ask. acne on a baby? normal. hair falling our 3-4 mo postpartum? normal. if you are unsure about anything, find a mom friend and ask, they will be more than willing to help out.

(my little girl is two and a half mo old, and these were the things i was told, or learned quickly that have been the most help. good luck!)

Not on Fire said...

I would like to suggest the nursing basket. If you are nursing, you tend to get stuck in places for a long time. It should contain things like:

a pad of paper (so that you can write down what the baby did today and what you were thinking)
pens
snacks
wipes
a book (probably on breastfeeding)
a timer (I would start it whenever I started nursing and it would tell me how long since the last feeding)
anything else

I found that it allowed me to easily change locations.

Anonymous said...

Take a shower and change your clothes EVERY SINGLE DAY even if it means listening to the baby cry.

If your baby has colic ONLY talk to mothers who have been thru it. NEVER EVER talk to a mother of an "easy" baby. EVER!

good luck
Jacqueline

3 Bundles for Me said...

If you can't force yourself to laugh, talk to your doctor.

That was my test. I failed it once, and I knew something wasn't right. A little medication and all was beautiful again!

Good Luck!

midlife mommy said...

I wish that someone had told me that the first six weeks would be very, very challenging (and that's putting it mildly), but most importantly, that it gets better at the six week mark (breast feeding, sleeping better, etc.).

kc said...

This is a great way to help your friend.

My 2 cents as a fellow doctor mama-

1) Babies are resilient- just when you think you have done something that might have "broken" your new baby- 5 minutes later, they are over it.

2) Especially if you're breast feeding- make your partner get up and change the diapers when you have to get up and do the feeding. They like to feel useful too and it's nice to have the moral support.

3) It's hard and it's not fun at times. That doesn't make you a bad person or bad mom. It'll get better- especially when he starts smiling at you.

4) Think about getting a Kindle along with that Netflix subsription.

JuliaG said...

When I was pregnant with my first our neighbor told me and my husband: "Motherhood is much moister than I ever expected". Indeed! Expect it and laugh with recognition each and every time that you're covered with spit up, pee, poop, breastmilk, drool, vomit, etc.

jane said...

Remember it's all survival mode for the first 6 months - 1 year and nothing you do will carry into his freshman year of college (e.g. only sleeping in the carseat; only sleeping on top of you; only sleeping in the Baby Bjorn; not sleeping; having a paci; having a bottle; having a boob; having a paci, a bottle and a boob all at the same time; driving around to get him to sleep; napping in your car when he's sleeping; reading in your car when he's sleeping; watching tv while he's nursing rather than bonding; crying to a friend that it's hard; crying by yourself in the shower; etc, etc.). Whatever it takes to survive is fine. Good luck!

Hanna said...

I read "Mamma Zen" when my son was almost 2. I wish I had read it in those first three months. My piece of advice (from experience) is that PPD can manifest as anxiety (and inability to sleep) and you should tell your doc ASAP if you experience this. Antidepressants do work.

Hanna said...

Oh yeah, when my mom came for a visit, she parked herself on the couch, only getting up from her John Grisham novel to eat what we had prepared for meals and to go shopping (for herself). And, she told me she quit breastfeeding me after three days because "it hurt".

It's possible to be worse than AWOL.

(Wha? Bitter? Me?)

Mignon said...

If you have a beer WHILE you're nursing... well. I just remember that feeling just plain awesome.

(And the alcohol will be out of your system by the next sesh.)

PS: DM, is this some kind of ruse to get a gazillion comments?? ;)

Marie-Baguette said...

the person who takes care of the baby is the only one with real work. Whoever is at "work" can take a break. I actually came to understand why some mothers just "had to go back to work". Try to get breaks, even just a few minutes to get out of the house alone. The Ergo baby carrier RULES. A yoga ball to bounce the baby. Swaddling. Be prepared for the cluster feeding (HOURS on the nipple). Get some sleep. Good luck with everything!

Candy said...

My one piece of advice: watch this movie about motherhood - The Great Mother. It's the story of the archetype of the Great Mother as embodied by the Dalai Lama's mother. It helped me tremendously to focus on the spiritual transition I was undergoing when I became a new mom.

Anonymous said...

I figured that at night when my baby wanted to feed, i also changed his nappy even though it wasn't full, just so that he wont wake me in between feeds for a nappy change

Melissa said...

If you are breastfeeding, remember to eat. I kept bowls of nuts, granola, and whatnot around the house after several days of crying jags. I was just flippin' hungry. DH refilled bowls as needed.

Although it is INCREDIBLY difficult if you are Type-A like I am, let other people do stuff. I felt like I could only be a good mom if I did everything. And that ended with me fatigued with PPD and a mess.

I couldn't less my house go (see, Type-A) so when my in-laws asked what we needed, I said a cleaning service. They came 2x p/month and were worth their weight in diamonds. Seriously.

I am still breastfeeding my DD (13 mths) but I wish someone had told me that formula was not the end of the universe. I was never a very good pumper and so limited myself in getting out of the house alone because I was so worried about supply, leaving enough, etc. When I finally calmed down about it and occasionally gave formula (she was about 7 mths), it was a relief. YMMV, but getting out alone and having some quiet time just to read the paper and drink coffee makes me a much better/calmer mother.

Oh, and ice diapers are a must.

clueless carolinagirl said...

If you find yourself angry, bored or annoyed with your child, it will pass. They turn into interesting little people eventually.

Aretha wasn't kidding about RESPECT. Establish it early, and you will raise a perfect child. Ha. Ha. Okay, a child who won't end up on America's Most Wanted.