When I found out I was pregnant with my son and it started to sink in that I was going to be a mother, I thought to myself, "I have all the support I need." As true as that statement was, I had no idea what types of physical and mental support I would need to get through the process.
Now that my son is five months old, I can look back on the newborn experience and decipher what I needed most as a new mom: ways to make sure that I was the best version of myself. I’m still a newbie, but here’s what I’ve learned so far…
With the body overflowing with hormones and the new responsibility of taking care of a baby, new mothers may begin to feel rundown and swamped. I was warned of potential breakdowns and feelings of stress, but I never truly believed I would experience it. Until I did.
Luckily for me, I’m one of the last people in my circle of friends to have a baby. So, I had friends at my disposal to offer me advice on how to deal with those times. My friends understood because they went through it themselves. Having an inner circle that can relate to you will help to ease the stress that accompanies mom life.
The ability to be understanding… that doesn’t just fall on the shoulders of others. New moms have to take some responsibility, too. Not everyone will know what’s going on in your head – understanding this will avoid potential feelings of frustration. Surround yourself with loved ones who are patient with you as you learn the ins and outs of motherhood. At the end of the day, you want to create a safe and happy environment not only for your baby, but for the entire family.
Find A Positive Inner Circle (Safety Net)
Your inner circle is not like high school. Remember those girls who claimed to be your friends while talking about you at the drop of a dime? We all know those groups! If your inner circle is not a positive one, it defeats the entire purpose! Seek out co-workers, family or friends to create a group that understands and sympathizes with what you’re going through. This can alleviate a tremendous amount of stress. That’s why you will consider this group your safety net!
If you don’t know where to begin, step outside the box to create or find your own circle. Mommy groups, support groups for new moms or even reconnecting with an old friend are all excellent options for creating the inner circle that works best for you. Keep in mind that some people will be able to offer a different type of support in comparison to others.
For example, I met the most helpful mom when I was pregnant. She overheard me speaking to a sales associate as my husband and I were shopping for strollers. After the associate walked away, she came over to us and said she couldn’t help but overhear that we were confused about this major purchase. She’d had a baby less than a year ago and was happy to give stroller recommendations. We exchanged information, became friends and we remain in contact to this day! Be open – you never know who can offer you help and guidance.
That said, another thing to consider is the type of energy you allow into your life. I’m a huge believer in positive vibes only! Avoiding negativity is important and fellow moms tend to share their negative experiences with their own children more than their positive ones. As mothers, not only are we hard on ourselves, but we can be hard on other moms. Girl power does not cease after you’ve had a baby. In fact, it should be even stronger. So stay positive… together.
Whether you’re forgiving yourself or seeking forgiveness from others, this is an important skill for new moms. The way you raise your baby may not mirror the advice friends and family will offer. Don’t beat yourself up for not taking in all suggestions. It’s okay to want to figure things out on your own and opt for practices that work best for your child. It really is true that you learn as you go along. Some things just can’t be taught. They have to be experienced.
Motherhood is filled with ups and downs. You’ll eventually start to realize which methods blend well with your family’s lifestyle. Allowing yourself to learn the process instead of beating yourself up for not knowing everything isn’t just better for you, it’s better for your baby. So don’t get wrapped up in “he said, she said.” Avoid negative talk towards yourself and from others. This will help you forgive yourself and learn from each scenario, whether it’s good or bad.
Give the Gift of Time
When you’re a new mom, there never seems to be enough time in the day. I completely sympathize with moms who are on their own. This isn’t an easy task.
I learned that I need to give myself time in three different ways – time to get things done, time to learn and time for myself.
In the early stages when my son’s sleep pattern wasn’t set, I found that days and nights morphed together. Fortunately, I had planned ahead in my third trimester and outsourced some additional business needs so that I would have more time to deal with this new schedule.
Even so, I often found myself thinking of everything that needed to get done, all at once. That’s when I’d go into panic mode! Eventually, I created ways to make and prioritize my to-do lists so they were manageable. I found that the perfect time to create a list is when the baby is down. Whether it’s on your phone, a notepad or a dry erase board (actually a great option), writing the list is half the battle. If you know what needs to be handled immediately and what can be placed on the back burner, you’ll feel less overwhelmed.
Giving myself time to learn was an entirely different mindset. I knew I wasn’t going to be a super mom right off the bat and I always felt guilty after realizing I might have done something incorrectly. For example, I didn’t always stick to my pumping schedule and sometimes I didn’t produce enough breast milk (that‘s an entirely different conversation). With experience – from learning and understanding my newborn, to learning when it made sense to think about my pre-baby body weight again – I finally realized that it just takes time. If you remind yourself regularly to give yourself time to learn, you’ll be able to live in the moment and enjoy the experience of being a new mom.
Enjoying the moment also means taking time for yourself. This was very hard for me in the beginning, particularly while breastfeeding. I found myself feeling guilty. I would make excuses. I’d say, “it’s too cold,” or “the baby isn’t ready for me to leave.” Ha! In reality, I just wasn’t ready! When I spoke to friends about this, they gave me support and assured me that I needed that precious “me time.” They gave me the confidence to take it!
I remember the day perfectly. I scheduled a blowout. I got a manicure and a pedicure. I was ecstatic and grateful to have the opportunity to enjoy the little things that I once took for granted.
Taking time away from your little one may leave you feeling guilty or scared, but trust me – it will make you a better mom. When I got home from my beauty day, the crying and fussiness didn’t worry me as much as it did before my mini break. Sometimes you need that time away to recharge and focus on you. I learned that when I’m the best version of myself, I can be the mom I want to be!