12 Pieces of Advice I Wish I Received After My First Baby
Part of my job is to do research so when I found out I was pregnant for the first time, I went into overdrive. I read every parenting book I could find, did research online and even made my husband read a book written for expecting fathers. When I came home for the hospital with my baby, I felt the preparations I had made went out the door and I was thrown into survival mode. Here are the things I learned after having a first baby that made me more comfortable with our number two and three:
1. Before Your Leave The Hospital, Ask About Your After-Care: I had tearing and required stitches after the birth of my first child. I was so focused on the baby that
I never asked the nurses how best to care for myself once I got home. Whether you go through something like this or encounter an unplanned c-section, make sure you have clear instructions on how to heal and care for yourself once you leave the hospital.
2. You Still Wear Maternity Clothes: I figured once I had the baby, my stomach would immediately go back to normal and I could at least fit into some of my pre-pregnancy clothes. The truth is, it takes awhile for your uterus to go back down and hips to return to their normal position. Breastfeeding does help, but it does take awhile so don't ditch your maternity clothes right away.
3. Your Baby Set-Up May Change: My original plan was to have our baby sleep in her crib right away. We soon realized she was just too little and preferred to feel
more secure so we bought a bassinet. During the first few months, if you have to change where or how you baby sleeps, do what you think best fits your baby and getting up to feed the baby at night.
4. You Will Need Help: My mom offered to stay with us a couple of days and I thought, this was really not necessary but agreed anyways. Looking back, I am so glad she stayed. It's nice to have some help during the few nights to adjust. An extra pair of hands can run errands, cook dinner and be someone to be the voice of reason when you are sleep deprived.
5. Breastfeeding Doesn't Always Come Easy: I thought breastfeeding would be a natural process. The more people I talked to after my first baby, the more I heard it was hard for a lot of people in the beginning. Get help if you need to or switch to exclusively pumping and bottles if this works better for you.
6. Try To Accomplish One Thing A Day: This advice I actually did receive. I was used to being a type-A personality and checking everything off my list. When you have a new baby, your list goes out the door and this may be hard for someone used to handling it all. I called one of my friends in tears after the first night and she said, "just do one thing a day." You have to take care of all your baby's needs, but if you have a list of things you want to get done, try and take one task for yourself a day and complete this. If you keep at this process going, you will soon add more and more back into your routine.
7. Switch Pediatricians If You Feel It's Not a Good Fit: Unlike a doctor that you see, chances are you chose a pediatrician whom you've never gone to before. Regardless of whether they were highly recommended by a friend or your own doctor, you haven't had first-hand experience with this doctor before. Our first pediatrician turned out to be the wrong personality fit for our family. After realizing what we wanted in a pediatrician, we found another doctor who we felt was a good match for our needs.
8. Become A Multi-Tasker: In the beginning, you will feel like you are always on call. I learned early on if you want to take a shower or do a load of laundry, you'll have to make it quick and listen for any cries in the process.
9. It Can Be Lonely: If you feel like you have depression, for sure call your doctor and make sure what you are experiencing, is not postpartum. For me, I just felt like life was going on around me, but I was just standing still. Your friends and family will stay away after initially coming to see the baby to give you bonding and family time. While this is nice, it can be a shock to go from a full-time job and busy social life, to suddenly just you and your baby. Trust me, this will pass too. Hormones returning to normal, more sleep and setting up plans when you feel you are ready, will all make you feel back to normal in a few months.
10. Tune In and Tune Out Unsolicited Advice: Once your baby arrives, friends and family will give you all sorts of advice once they see you interact with your child. Listen to any advice that you think will work for you and tune out the rest. Only you know what is best.
11. You're Not a Bad Parent: There are moments where you will feel like you are doing it wrong. Trust me, everyone goes through these and it's a learning process. We tried to cut our babies fingernails when we noticed they were too long and accidentally caught her skin. We felt horrible, but we learned to use a nail file until her fingers were big enough to see what we were doing. Some of my friends said they felt horrible about leaving a wet diaper on too long or not changing wet sheets right away. It's all part of the learning curve.
12. The First Three Months Are Hard: I always joked with my friends that there should be a service that takes care of your baby for the first three months. The truth is, you are learning what your baby needs and this takes time. The baby will most likely sleep more during the day/less at night, you will change several diapers and feel like your baby has become a new demanding full-time job with no time for anything else. I promise this does get better. Babies grow; eat more per serving, staying fuller longer and start having more awake hours that are actually during the day... otherwise, there would never be siblings.