There’s a few things that I wish I had known, or that I did know but felt as though they were little-known facts, and other stuff I want to share. So here’s to all new mothers!
- Being a mother is really hard, one of the hardest jobs on earth because it will tax you in every possible way. A good support system (or the number of a really good babysitter whom you trust!) is a must.
- Sleep whenever you can. (I did try this, but unfortunately my baby doesn’t like me to sleep all that often so naps, even while she’s napping, are hard!)
- Your baby’s sleep pattern can and will most likely change. A lot. She could sleep through the night for a week, then be up every hour the next. Roll with the punches. (I’ve been rolling so much I feel like a freaking ball.) If you want to try gentle sleep training after 12 months, try the No-Cry Sleep Solution. Here is another method. Here is an article about letting children find their own sleep rhythms. If your baby screams a lot for a long time, something else is probably wrong.
- YES you CAN eat during labor. Hospitals cannot forbid you to. They don’t recommend it because IF you have an emergency c-section, IF you don’t have an IV in place, you might/will be put under general, and MIGHT throw up while flat-on-your-back unconscious. Eating is a good thing though; it will keep your strength up.
- Tummy time is NOT necessary. My lil one is five months old and only in the last month, month and a half, she’s been ok with tummy time. As long as she gets plenty front to front time with Mom and Dad, she’ll build up the strength she needs.
- Do have a birth plan. I really like this one from thebump.com. A doctor or nurse should go over it with you. Mine was a little unrealistic for my situation (preeclampsia), but the nurse went over it with me and we discussed it so we were both on the same page.
- You may feel nauseous and throw up during labor. I had no idea. (They gave me anti-nausea medicine through my IV though!)
- You also may poop/pee while pushing the baby out. Seriously, don’t be worried about it — it’s nothing new to the hospital staff!
- You will most likely bleed for 6 weeks afterwards. It honestly wasn’t that bad for me…and really, tapered off at about 4 weeks.
- When newborns smile, it’s not always gas. Gas ‘smiles’ are much different (more like grimaces). It’s actually reflexive, and the earlier your baby is born, the more likely she is to smile reflexively (especially in her sleep). Real smiles don’t usually begin until around 2 months.
- The first few times you start clipping your baby’s fingernails, you will probably be freaking out that you’ll hurt her. It’s easiest to do it while she’s asleep. Curl her hand around your finger and you’ve got most of them in one shot. Also, doing one hand at a time is OK!
- Hats aren’t necessary, if you’re doing skin-to-skin contact.
- You’re perfectly within your rights to not let anyone hold your baby!!
- If at all possible, make some time for yourself during the day. Have your husband hold the baby for an hour while you take a fragrant bubble bath. Or, if time is shorter, give yourself a manicure. Try not to lose yourself in your duties, because you’re still your own person…you just have a child as well. (This one is really hard for me because I feel so guilty being away from her!!)
- The first four or so weeks postpartum is sometimes referred to as the “babymoon” and, like the ‘honeymoon stage’, will probably be easier than the next 24 months. You’re high on oxytocin (if you’re breastfeeding), love, infatuation with your adorable munchkin, and you feel like Superwoman. Enjoy it. Just be aware that when you come off that high, you’re not a bad mother.
- Invest in a back scratcher. When you’re holding your little one and she just fell asleep and your shoulder starts itching but you can’t do the contortions you usually do to satisfy it, you’ll wish you did. Pens also work to reach those hard-to-reach spots.
- SafeFetus.com: Here is a site listing safe and not safe drugs to take while pregnant and breastfeeding.
- I may be strung up for this one, but I talked to a midwife about it and she said alcohol in small quantities is ok for occasional consumption during pregnancy. Small as in, you shouldn’t even get tipsy (when I drink it’s about 3oz of high-percentage alcohol or less at a time…such as a little less than half an 8oz glass of vanilla rum or a fuzzy navel which is half peach schnapps and half orange juice) and occasional as in, no more than one drink every 2-4 weeks. Be responsible. This may not be for you, and that’s fine too.
- Breastfeeding isn’t always the easy, natural thing it’s made out to be. It’s often really painful, especially in the beginning when your lil one is tiny. Tylenol/Ibuprofen helps.
- If your lil one refuses to nurse after you use lanolin, try coconut oil. Lanolin does have a slight unpleasant flavor.
- Read a LOT on latching. Kellymom.com and mother-2-mother.com are great resources. It’s not just a bull’s-eye thing.
- More than likely, you are making enough milk. I can’t tell you how many times I was freaking out because my boobs were soft and it felt like there was nothing in there and I thought I was “empty”. You don’t go empty. Soft is actually better than hard, because it means you will make more (and the more the baby suckles, the more milk you’ll make: this is why scheduled feeding and supplementing unnecessarily is a really big no-no! (Also because it’s how your baby gets comfort, food, AND drink.) Sort of like this: if the ‘tap’ is running and the ‘tank’ fills up, it gets the signal to stop; but if the tank is draining and filling at the same time, you’ll keep making milk.) As long as the baby is making enough wet diapers in a day, you’ll be fine. Supply and demand.
- Feed one side per session. There’s “foremilk” which is low-fat higher-sugar milk more suited for snacking, and “hindmilk”, which is fattier milk that the baby will get the longer she feeds. If you’re alternating sides, the baby is less likely to get the hindmilk and may be fussy and colicy. Also, to know if your baby is getting enough hindmilk, her poops may be “seedy” or “creamy”.
- DO keep breastfeeding your baby even when you both are sick. It will comfort you both, and breastfed babies are less likely to get dehydrated.
- Breastfed babies’ poops CAN and sometimes DO stink!!
- Breastfed babies can go for days without pooping as well. As long as they are peeing just fine and nothing is off color, she is fine.
- In the hospital, babies do NOT need formula supplementation. When your baby is born, her stomach is about the size of a pea. Colostrum (which is high in fat and very rich) is exactly enough for the first few days until your milk comes in!
- Most babies prefer one boob over the other (usually the right). Sometimes one boob makes more milk than the other, or has a faster/slower letdown than the other.
- Know your breastfeeding rights. It is NOT illegal ANYWHERE to breastfeed; in fact, in most states, there is a law PROTECTING breastfeeding. Legally, nobody can throw you out of a restaurant/store for breastfeeding, unless you are not authorized to be in that building. What to say if someone compares breastfeeding in public to urinating/defecating/jacking off/flashing other body parts/public nudity.
- Breastfeeding exclusively supplies all your baby’s nutritive needs during her first year. “Food before one is just for fun.” Even after 12 months, breastmilk is good for your baby.
- Don’t start solids until at least 6 months, if you choose to do it before 12 months. Babies are born with a “tongue-thrust” reflex where if you try to put anything in their mouth, their tongue will push it out. Just because baby takes an interest in what you put in your mouth does not mean she is ready for solids.
- Rice cereal is not a good first food.
- You CAN breastfeed through pregnancy (if, god forbid, you get pregnant while you still have a baby).
- Breastfeeding is NOT a foolproof birth control system. Besides that, you can still get your period back very soon, even while exclusively breastfeeding.
- If at all possible, try not to introduce an artificial nipple (pacifier, bottle) until after 6 weeks, when your breastfeeding relationship is firmly established, to avoid nipple confusion. A baby sucks on a pacifier (or bottle nipple), but suckles (completely different) on your breast.
- If you drink alcohol (again, small quantities, occasionally) during breastfeeding, you do not need to “pump and dump”. Try to time it so you drink right after a feed. Alcohol doesn’t stay in milk (just like it doesn’t stay in your blood stream), so again, no need to pump and dump. Be responsible.
- If you choose to pump, it shouldn’t hurt. If it does, you probably need to go up a flange size.
- Pumping isn’t a good indicator of how much milk you produce. Oftentimes women have a hard time letting down for a pump, but have no supply problems. Don’t feel guilty if your friend can fill her freezer with extra milk and you can’t! (It’s just really handy!) If you really want to try pumping, try to do it while you’re feeding your baby. If you’re using a hand pump, I know it’s really difficult, but doable.
- If you absolutely have to supplement or switch to formula, it’s what you have to do. I had to supplement for a while because of excruciating pain. I was in tears every time I fed her. Sometimes though, formula’s what you’ve got to do. Get some help though, if you need it! There are so many benefits of exclusive breastfeeding, but sometimes formula is necessary to save your sanity.
Other Helpful Links:
- Breastfeeding information from La Leche League
- Eight Principles of Attachment Parenting
- Benefits of Breastfeeding
- Witty Responses to Co-Sleeping Remarks
- Timeline of a Breastfed Baby
Attachment Parenting or Breastfeeding Support Pages on Facebook