Something’s in the water right now: Several of my friends are experiencing pregnancy and having a baby for the first time, and it’s so fun to see them go on this journey I’ve already traveled. However, there is one problem.
My husband LOVES to tell people I am the best person to ask about newborns. He is a performer by nature, so he loves attention and stages and crowds of people flocking to him for wisdom. I am absolutely not that. I deflect attention. Shove it away. Even on my wedding day: “Why are all of these people staring at me?”
For the record, my husband really, genuinely thinks I’m amazing, and he firmly believes I should share all of my “wisdom” with the world. When we were first married, he would brag about my cooking skills. Then, he would urge me to explain how I made tacos. Yep. You brown the meat, add seasoning, grate cheese, put the meat and cheese on shells with other toppings. I’m a genius!
So, whenever he learned about our friends’ pregnancies, he immediately started telling them, “You should really talk to Kelly. She knows everything.” Then, he would look to me as if to say, “Go on. Tell them everything.” (So awkward.)
Anyway, I know that the internet can be a daunting place for a new mom, so I thought I might offer some help.
Here are 5 things I have learned through trial by fire:
1. “Don’t Listen to Unsolicited Advice.” I know, right? Like you even asked me to write this blog post. Let’s make a deal: If you don’t trust me, then don’t read the rest of the article. But oh my gosh, you will hear advice from everyone. Everywhere. They can’t help it. “Yes, the Butcher at Kroger, I will consider your tips about breast engorgement.” Seriously, everywhere. Don’t pay attention to all you hear about raising babies and taking care of newborns. If you are a first time mom, you need to find a select few people you admire and ask them for advice. Find a doctor you trust and who supports your decisions as a mom. Everyone else? Nod and smile but don’t listen.
2. “A Baby Doesn’t Need a Whole Lot of Stuff.” Yet, the culture around you would like to convince you otherwise. There are entire department stores going to the bank based on new parents having no idea what a baby needs. A newborn really only needs a place to sleep, a few clothes, diapers, food to eat (via bottle or momma), and a car seat (you can’t leave the hospital without one). Anything after that is gravy. A baby doesn’t need her own room fully decorated with all new furniture the moment she arrives home. A baby doesn’t need every gadget known to man. Don’t let people convince you otherwise, and don’t let your perfect idea of a home and nursery stress you out and put you in debt.
3. “Nurse if you Can.” If you can do it, nursing is awesome. If you can’t, don’t worry about it and don’t feel guilty. Nursing is cheap, portable, easy to clean up and prepare (no bottle washing). Nursing works as the all-in-one package: food, pacifier, and tranquilizer. Babies love to be close to their mommas. She wants to nurse often? Let her. Enlist help from lactation consultants and other close (very close) friends who nursed their babies.
4. “Babies Come from a Place where There is No Time.” I learned this phrase from a lactation consultant with my first baby. She was kooky as all get out, but she taught me how I can’t have unrealistic expectations from a newborn. Allow yourself to get lost in the world of your baby without regards to time. Work on establishing a routine, not a schedule. Don’t get frustrated when baby just nursed for 30 minutes and an hour later wants to do it again. Yes, you get tired, and yes, you get cranky. It will pass. You hear me? It will. Enlist family members and friends for help with food, laundry, cleaning, and upkeep of the house. You just focus on your sweet baby.
5. “You Can’t Spoil a Newborn.” I read this in Dr. Harvey Karp’s The Happiest Baby on the Block (a great read by the way with some wonderful techniques – even if the title is ridiculous. It’s the only book I highly recommend with regards to the care and training of newborns). You want to hold her all day long? Do it. You want to kiss on her and snuggle with her? By all means. You can hold her and kiss her and love her all you want. You can give her anything she asks for. You know why? She will only ask for food, a new diaper, or some snuggles. That’s all newborns want.
So there you go. Newborns 101. Feel free to add some practical advice in the comments!