When I was pregnant, I found the people that actually had the best advice for pregnancy and early days with a baby, were the newbs. Yes, that’s right. People like me that have just gone through it. The seasoned vets, the moms who had done it all, had successful, grown kids… weren’t much help. Why? Usually they couldn’t remember what they did. Which, I thought was ridiculous. How can you have three kids and not offer me any useful advice? Well now that my baby is almost six months old, I literally have to sit down and think to remember what the hell has happened in the last year and a half. Everything is a jumble. So years into motherhood, I can completely understand how these mums have no clue what they did when their kids were babies. So those that have just been through it, are really the only ones that can remember it.
I have about half a dozen girlfriends who are pregnant right now and I find myself desperately wanting to give them my (unsolicited) advice. After all, I have JUST been through it and I’m still alive (and sometimes, even smiling). So here it is, my newbie mom advice:
- Give yourself a break.
You’re pregnant. You’re tired. You’re frustrated that you don’t know exactly what’s wrong… but you just don’t feel like yourself. Whether you’re feeling like a pile of poo emotionally, physically or a combo of both, just give yourself a break. Sit down, eat a chocolate bar and mourn the loss of the days when you didn’t have a little peanut sucking every ounce of life out of you.
- Find things that make you feel good.
You need to find both little and big things that will make you feel good. For me, I would have a long shower almost every day. I would sit down in the tub and just let the shower spray me down. After a long day of work, coming home to my shower made me feel good. Going for prenatal massages, made me feel amazing. So, once a month I would treat myself and get a massage.
- Nonalcoholic wine sucks.
The best thing you’ll find is nonalcoholic champagne/sparkling white. The bubbles cover up the lack of alcohol and weird taste, HA! Also, the President’s Choice sparkling waters (blue cans) are the best.
- Seek out help NOW.
Go see a chiropractor now before you can’t walk because baby is now sitting on a nerve. If you’re planning on breastfeeding, join your local La Leche League and go to a meeting while pregnant. Find a lactation consultant that can come to your house when the baby is a few days old. Find local mom Facebook groups. Find local Facebook groups or forums on babywearing, carseats, sleep training. Get all the help you can now because when you have a new baby, you’ll be too exhausted to figure out where the help is.
Have a dog? Hire a dog walker now so when the baby comes, someone who knows your dog can come take your pooch out. Hate cleaning? Hire a cleaner. Hate cooking? Find a meal service. These things can add up so think about them now. What are you okay paying someone else to do? What can you give up to afford the help? Sometimes it’s even cheaper in the long run. For example, finding an affordable meal service would be cheaper than getting takeout all the time when baby’s here. Don’t think you’ll need the help? HAHAHA. You’re cute. And naïve. And a bit of an idiot. You’ll need help. Think very realistically about the challenges in your life and what you can do to help yourself.
- Take prenatal classes.
I did A LOT of my own pregnancy/delivery/baby research so to be honest, I didn’t really learn much new information from prenatal classes… BUT I met other couples expecting babies right around the same time. The other mums I met from those classes, have been my saviors. I talk to some of them almost every single day. They’ll be on mat leave at the same time as you and going through the same baby shit (literally) as you. So take classes that are local and take the ones that span over several weeks, so you have time to get to know the other people. And make sure to add all of them on Facebook or even create a Facebook group before the classes are over!
- Listen to everyone’s advice, but only take what works for you.
There are a zillion ways to do everything. It can be totally overwhelming. Other moms love to give advice (cough, cough, I don’t know anything about that) and sometimes it’s annoying but it can also be very helpful. Listen to the advice, think about it, then do what your gut says is best.
- Biased opinions are great… but biased.
Think about where information is coming from. If you’re talking to someone from a La Leche group, the advice is going to be very pro breastfeeding. If you’re talking to a chiropractor, the advice is going to be pro bodywork. You get the point. Once again, listen to what someone has to say… but do your own research and trust your gut.
- Don’t waste your time reading every baby book.
Don’t go crazy reading every pregnancy and baby book under the sun. You’ll get overwhelmed with all the different methods and frankly, it’s just a waste of time. Talk to a few moms that are similar to you about their favourite book and try that out first. For me, it was Baby Whisperer. Although some of the information was a little dated (what she says about hind vs fore milk) or unrealistic (who the hell has their newborn on a schedule?!) overall, it was super helpful.
- Build your village.
Oh goodness. What I would I have done without my village?! I have no clue. I had my close friends that came over and brought dinners and chatted with me in those early days while my boobs were hanging out and my hair was sticking up. Moms that watched my boy so I could take my first steps out of the house without him. Dads that trimmed our trees and mowed our lawn. Neighbours that took out our garbage cans when we forgot it was garbage day. Other new moms that knew exactly what I was going through and would discuss in no fewer than 40 texts, the smell, frequency and texture of my baby’s poop. Your village will be your everything.
- Don’t overthink the delivery.
The day (and days leading up to) your baby is born, is crazy. It’s pretty damn out of your control and it might not go as planned. Actually, it probably won’t go as planned. Educate yourself, find out all the drug options, think about different labour positions, talk to your doctor/midwife about your concerns…. then, try not to think about it beyond that. Your labour could last a few days but then you’ll have a child for the rest of your life. So if your labour doesn’t go as planned, LET IT GOOOOOOO. Don’t overthink. Don’t obsess.
- Talk to professionals.
Weird rash on your baby’s tummy? If you’re here in BC, call the nurses line at 811. Also on staff there are dieticians and pediatric dieticians – they can help you out when baby’s starting solids. Trouble breastfeeding? Seek the advice of a lactation consultant or go to a breastfeeding clinic. Call your local health agency, usually you can see someone for free. Having a hard time emotionally? Talk to your doctor about seeing a counselor. Asking other moms or friends can be useful, but ultimately, seeking the help of a professional might be better.
- Your body will have a mind of its own.
Pregnancy hormones are crazy, changes in your body post delivery are crazy, breastfeeding does insane things to your body, the return of your period could hit you hard. All of this is frustrating and exhausting so once again, give yourself a break. It’ll take a looooong time for you to feel “normal” again, and that’s okay. You’ll get there eventually.