The number one thing I can tell you from my personal experience is above all else:
Follow your heart and gut instinct when it comes to your baby
In terms of finding information that both new and seasoned Moms are so often seeking, especially in this online age, remember for everything you hear about or find you can find contradictory information out there too. It can leave you really confused, going in circles and feeling more stressed out than when you started. Feeling this way is completely normal. The best thing you can do is know when to quit. If you are feeling this way, it isn’t helping you and you may now be worrying about more things than when you started. Recognise when things are making you feel more stressed out and do your best to minimize them.
Embrace a unique path
What is right for your friends and family is not always going to be right for you. I don’t think any of us do everything the same as those we know and love. Your child is your own unique special miracle, and your relationship with your baby is just as unique. Respecting that knowledge and knowing that doing things differently doesn’t make you any less of a parent is important. Sometimes it may cause resistance or strong feelings from family and friends. We can all be pretty passionate when it comes to our children. You can keep compassion in mind when you see it from their perspective, they are human too and they may feel like you are rejecting their way of doing things. That doesn’t mean your way of doing things isn’t the best for your family and it doesn’t matter how much you look up to those giving you advice, everything that works for them is not going to work for you. Be ok with that and embrace it. Truly there are millions of ways to raise healthy, loving children. You can expect to have your own path.
Feeling very overwhelmed, and waves of sadness are completely normal when bringing home baby. Most of us wonder at times how do other people manage, this is so hard! You are going through probably the biggest change in your life thus far. Give yourself extra TLC. Not sleeping makes everything worse, and there is a big lack of sleep with a new born. If you feel like you are not being yourself or you are short with those you love, know that many other women have felt that way too. Forgive yourself and love yourself. That is the best thing you can do for you and your baby. Even though it may appear easy for others, having a new born is NOT easy for most of us whether or not it seems that way on the outside. The more confidence and love you have for yourself the better off you will be. Not everything is going to go smoothly but you will learn from it and become better at it in the process.
Moms, believe in yourself, even through moments of doubt.
What those who love Mom can do
When it comes down to it most of the work of having a new born is going to fall on Mom. Babies need their Moms. There is not a lot you can do to alleviate that, but what you can do is focus on Mom. As much as you can pick up on her ques. She may not always tell you what she needs although that would make helping easier; most of us struggle with that. There are things you can do without being asked that most new Moms would appreciate.
Worry less about brining every perfect thing they would want. Do your best to guess but take initiative and shop for common items. New parents need food in the house but they don’t have a lot of time to make lists, if any! You can ask for special requests but taking initiative to get things you think they would want will mean a lot. I think I can speak for many new Moms when I say they will be very grateful just to have groceries in the house. In addition, Dads consider feeding Mom while she is feeding baby. She may need a little spoon feeding herself with feeding baby around the clock.
Finding time to clean with a new born is tough. On top of that when bringing home a new baby many of us care MORE about the cleanliness of our home because of baby. Clean common things most people clean regularly around the house. Vacuuming, mopping the floor, cleaning the bathrooms, folding laundry, taking out garbage, emptying the dish washer, mowing the lawn. These are things you can do without being too invasive because most of us do many of these things weekly if not daily. I think you’ll find many new parents would appreciate it.
Friends Keep Visits Short
New parents love that you care about them and their new baby. It is great you are excited! However, they need a lot of time to adjust and entertaining a lot is exhausting. Even if you are taking care of most things, bringing food etcetera, remember when it is at your home it still feels like entertaining.
A great gift those closest to Mom can give is patience. Mom may inevitably take out some of her exhaustion and frustration on you even though you are just trying to help. Give them extra patience and try not to take it to heart. Remember how challenging of a time it is for Mom, and that her body is recovering.
Dads Take Time Off
Dads especially keep the patience thing in mind! You will probably experience the brunt of Moms frustration and challenges.
If possible take time off! From my experience the #1 person a new Mom wants help from is her partner. In many cases the Dad is the one Mom has the highest comfort level with. Dads are the ones that can truly make Mom feel she is not going it alone. It can be hard for Dads because often they are pressured to work all the time. Taking time off is sometimes looked down on, and they can be made to feel bad about it from co-workers.
Dads remember no matter the pressure you cannot get this time back, and Mom does need you. With my first it was not really an option for my husband to take much time off having just started a new job, only few days. When we had our second he took 2 weeks off. I can’t stress enough how much that made a HUGE difference! 2 weeks was really helpful in giving me more time to adjust! Even just for recovering from the ever common baby blues. When Mom’s mindset is stronger and her body is more recovered she will be better able to do it by herself for longer periods of time. It takes more than 1 week to recover from the birthing process and the gigantic change of bringing another person home that you are completely responsible for.
I don’t say this to make Dads who can’t take time off feel bad. Working is part of taking care of your family, so if time off is not an option don’t get down on yourself. This is more for Dads who can take time off, but feel the pressure not to. Setting the precedent that there is nothing more important than your family is a good step forward when becoming a new parent.
Lastly, but very importantly if you have the opportunity to give Mom a chance to nap, or simply lie down if she can’t fall asleep, that is one of the biggest things someone can do to help restore Mom both physically and mentally.
Moms, Dads, Grandparents, Family, Friends, Everyone –
The best thing we can all do for one another is approach each person with love and compassion. Expect each life to be uniquely, beautifully different.
What ideas do you have to help out a new Mom?