Every new mama wants to do things the ‘right’ way.
We buy the parenting books, go to classes and listen to never-ending parenting advice from well meaning relatives – and even strangers.
But what if I told you, you don’t need to do everything you hear.
8 Secrets Every Mama Of A Newborn Needs To Know
You see, your baby didn’t read the books.
As mamas, we are incredibly capable of making good decisions for our newborns and for ourselves.
There are very few ‘black and white’ issues in parenting. You’re a good mama, and you get to choose what works for you and your baby.
Here are the 8 secrets you need to know:
Secret #1: You Don’t Need To Stress About Feeding Your Baby
Sure, there are some mothers who need to log feeds, do weight checks, etc. but they are the exceptions, not the rule.
Yes, breastfeeding can take time to get down pat. And yes, it’s a learning curve for both mama and baby. However, breastfeeding is our biological norm. Because it’s the norm, we should expect it to work out, rather than stressing in case it doesn’t.
And should you run into problems, you can see an IBCLC lactation consultant to help you navigate feeding troubles. IBCLCs can also help you learn about all of your feeding options, such as human donor milk or choosing a formula, should you be in the small percentage of mother-baby pairs unable to exclusively breastfeed.
“I bottle-fed, and I breastfed, and before I knew it, they were all eating stale fries off the floor of the minivan, and I was like whatever, thanks for cleaning” – Joslyn Gray
We should make informed decisions to help our babies have the best start in life, but we needn’t stress. Make wise choices, use all the support you can, and trust your mama intuition.
Preparing to breastfeed? Be sure to check out BellyBelly’s breastfeeding page for benefits, problem solving and advice.
Secret #2: Ignore Schedules And Sleep Training Advice For Newborns
Newborns have spent nine months never feeling hungry, hot or cold, overstimulated or overtired.
Then they make the transition to using energy to eat, feeling a variety of sensations, and needing to be soothed. It’s quite a big adjustment.
You don’t need schedules and you definitely don’t need to sleep train a newborn. Trying to schedule a baby who is still transitioning during the ‘fourth trimester’ can create unnecessary stress for both of you.
Rest, go with the flow, and heal from pregnancy while your little one adjusts to life outside the womb. There’s plenty of time to work on healthy routines.
Be sure to read The Fourth Trimester – 8 Ways To Create A Great One For Your Baby to learn about avoiding stressful schedules and enjoying your new baby.
Secret #3: Never Worry About Spoiling Your Newborn
“You need to put her down sometimes! She’s going to get too spoiled. She’ll never learn to soothe herself”.
You might hear this from your great aunt Sally, cousin Jane, a well-meaning grandparent, or even a random stranger at the grocery store. After a while you might even start to imagine your dog saying it.
For whatever reason, somewhere along the way, some people decided a baby’s genuine need for affection and close contact was manipulation. Parents were told to limit contact so as not to spoil their children.
This goes against every feeling new mothers have, but the pressure can be strong.
But what does science say? Evidence shows you cannot spoil your newborn. In fact, much of what we associate with ‘spoiling’ is actually vital to proper brain growth and development.
Read Want To Raise A Productive Adult? Study Says Pick Up Your Baby Whenever She Cries to learn more about helping your baby’s growth and development.
Secret #4: You Don’t Need To Become A Germaphobe
Nothing is scarier than the thought of a sick newborn. As the mama of a premature baby, I definitely relate to this fear.
It’s tempting to lather yourself head to toe in hand sanitiser, sterilise anything and everything that might come into contact with your baby, and stress if the house isn’t spotless.
Of course it’s important to practise good hygiene, like proper hand washing – especially during the cold and flu season. Unless your baby’s physician specifically recommends it, however, sterilising everything isn’t necessary.
In fact, some evidence shows overdoing the sanitisation could be harmful. Use good hygiene, avoid anyone who’s currently ill, and use some common sense when deciding where to take your baby, and when. But most mamas don’t need to stress about keeping baby’s environment sterile.
Be sure to read Are Our Kids Too Clean? 6 Facts About Kids And Dirt to learn what evidence shows is the best way to help most kids be their healthiest.
Secret #5: Don’t Run Yourself Empty – Practise Self-Care
“We believe that the longer we tough it out, the tougher we are, and therefore the more successful we will be. However, this entire conception is scientifically inaccurate. The very lack of a recovery period is dramatically holding back our collective ability to be resilient and successful” – Harvard researchers Shawn Achor and Michelle Gielan
Motherhood certainly takes some selflessness and sacrifice, but we shouldn’t ignore our own needs. We can't pour from an empty cup.
Sure, you won’t get eight solid, uninterrupted hours of sleep, but you can (and should) find time to nap and rest without any guilt.
You can say no to an extra outing because you need more rest. You should readjust your priorities so you’re not overworked. And it’s okay to find time to do things that bring you joy, relaxation, etc.
Check out What Is The Secret To Resilient Mamas? to learn more about taking care of yourself.
Secret #6: It’s Okay If You Aren’t Elated All The Time
You’ve waited nine long months to meet your baby. Perhaps you were even trying to conceive for a long time. Surely this new baby will bring nothing but joy, right?
Certainly, welcoming a new baby into the home is a time of joy and excitement. However, it’s also a lot of work. A lot.
You now have another human being who is fully dependent on you. You’ve probably had less sleep in a full week than you used to get in just a night or two. Not to mention you need to heal from the birth, after you grew an entire human being.
Yes, newborns are magical little creatures. And yes, the miracle of life is beautiful. But it’s completely normal, and predictable, for you not to enjoy every second of early motherhood.
It’s okay to say it’s hard. And it’s okay to say you’re tired. It’s even okay to question whether you’re really cut out for this whole parenthood thing. Don’t worry, you are! But it’s normal to wonder, especially on the fifth overnight feeding.
Feeling new mama stress today? Be sure to read Dear Mama Just Surviving, This Won’t Last Forever for some perspective on just how well you’re doing.
Secret #7: You Are Under No Obligation To Play Host
It’s normal for everyone to want to see the baby. After all, aren’t newborns just irresistible? But you and baby’s wellbeing are of the utmost importance.
If guests require even the smallest amount of hosting, if they expect a meal or tea to be served, or if they insist on holding a baby who is clearly ready for a feed, then they’re not the guests you need in the early weeks.
Truthfully, no guests in the early weeks should be there purely for their ‘baby fix’. They should be there to help support you, and your baby, during this massive transition.
Not sure how to manage guests in the early weeks? Slyly sharing 16 Things To Avoid When Visiting A Newborn Baby on your personal pages might send the right hints!
Secret #8: You’ve Got This!
Mamas are incredibly capable! Trust your instincts, be confident and know you are rocking motherhood.
It’s normal to be fatigued. And it’s normal to struggle with understanding your baby’s cues. It’s also normal to have a bad day here and there.
Motherhood isn’t easy, but you are strong!
Surround yourself with supportive people who will build your confidence, rather than make you question it. Remind yourself motherhood isn’t a journey we’re meant to travel alone; we all need support and help. And most importantly, know that ‘supermama’ is a myth!
No mama is perfect. No mama juggles everything with 100% accuracy. And no mama with a newborn, whether it’s her first or her fifth, gets through the fourth trimester without a few bumps along the way.
Need a reminder? Be sure to read Exhausted Mothers, You Are Enough.