51 Tips on Pregnancy, Child Birth, Postpartum, & Being a New Mommy
1. Let people touch your belly. Sure, every now and again it can be a little awkward, but really, it's not that big of a deal. People get curious and excited (and sometimes carried away) that you're bringing a new life into the world. What's weird is when they touch your belly after you have the baby. Now that's awkward.
2. Stay active, but know when to take it easy. I found that if I did too much one day, I was a pile of cement the next. Sore and tired and pretty much miserable and useless.
3. Take (weekly) belly bump pictures. They're fun to look back on. And if you want to post them to Facebook or your blog? Do it. It's your life. I guarantee people secretly (and not so secretly) love to look at them. Same goes for maternity pictures.
4. However, if you choose to post belly pics to social media, don't get offended when someone makes the comment, "Oh you look so tiny for eight months--are you sure there's a baby in there?" or, "You're huge! Are you sure there's not two in there?" Because it's inevitable. Just let it roll off your shoulder and remember their comment for when they're pregnant so you can make an equally offensive one back. Just kidding. Don't do that.
5. Don't compare yourself to other mommies-to-be. Especially those who are right around your due date. The second you read on Facebook they felt their baby moving, and you haven't yet, you'll start freaking out and calling your doctor every five minutes. Every woman experiences pregnancy differently. Remember that.
6. To continue along those lines, stay far away from places like BabyCenter[dot]com where women are notorious for comparing themselves to other women. And don't even get me started on the competition! I was always afraid WWIII would break out on those message boards. Yipes! It's brutal out there. No need to add that kind of stress to your life.
7. Consider keeping your unborn child's name a secret. We did this with our first. We didn't want anyone 'hating' on her name before she was even born. Because guess what? Who is going to say to your face and the face of your new plump bundle of joy that they really dislike his/her name? No one. They'll save that kind of talk for behind your back...
8. There's no need to buy the fancy, expensive Pottery Barn matchy-matchy nursery bedding set. It's overpriced and the baby will never use the quilt. In fact, s/he cannot use the quilt in the crib because it's illegal. Okay, it's not illegal, but it's completely not safe.
9. With the latter being said, I know you'll still order the fancy PB set because you're saying to yourself, "She doesn't know what she's talking about." or, "I MUST HAVE IT! It's soooo perfect!" Yep. I said the same thing. People told me the same thing. I didn't listen just like you won't either. & then regretted it. It must be a right-of-passage into motherhood or something.
10. Don't take the tags off of anything, and keep your receipts. After my baby shower I got so overly excited that I ripped off the tags and washed everything and put it neatly in the nursery in preparation for the baby. I think that's called nesting. It turns out Emmalyn didn't need ALL of those onesies and socks and receiving blankets.
11. Research, but don't over-research information about childbirth. Personally I felt much more relaxed throughout the whole process because I had read (and watched) about it.
12. Savor all the baby flutters and kicks. You'll miss them terribly.
13. If this is your second pregnancy and you have a toddler running around at home, please don't feel bad about the amount of television you let him/her watch--especially in the first trimester. You're nauseous and tired, and there will not be life-long-lasting side-affects on your toddler because you let them watch seven hours of TV in a row. Just make sure you feed them something edible in between.
*On Child Birth
14. Make a Birth Plan. Review it with your spouse and communicate your concerns and feelings with him.
15. Take that birth plan and THROW IT AWAY. Seriously. I never even took mine out of the bag. There are so many things going on that as long as you talk to your nurse, doctor, and hubby, you'll be just fine. Honestly, I never gave my birth plan a second thought in the hospital, and laughed when I remembered it was in my bag after I came home from the hospital.
16. Book mark the page in the baby book where you want the baby's footprints. It'll make the nurse's job easier and you won't forget to have it done either. As an extra 'happy' we laid out a scrub shirt to have the baby's footprints stamped on. My dad did it with me, and since the hubs is a doctor, we wanted to continue the tradition. Super adorable, if you ask me ;)
17. Epidural or no epidural, give yourself a break. I went in determined not to have an epidural, but was paralyzed with pain after a few hours. I made the decision to have an epidural (after talking with my husband) and never looked back. No regrets. Don't feel guilty! And if you choose to do it au natural, please don't go all Rosie the Riveter on the rest of us. You make us feel bad about ourselves. I applaud you, really, but guess what?? We both got the same end result--a happy and healthy baby.
18. Your spouse is your advocate. Make sure he can read your mind. Or at least talk, talk, talk about everything and anything. That way, when you're in mid-contraction and everything seems to be moving a mile a minute and you physically cannot open your mouth to speak, he can do so for you... with confidence and trust.
19. Pack chap-stick.
20. The "Going Home" outfit is pretty pointless because you put the baby in the car seat to go straight home anyway, but with that being said, buy the most ridiculous outfit you want because YOU DESERVE IT! You just had a baby for goodness sake. You can do whatever the hell you want!
21. You will bleed. A lot. A lot. A lot. Holy cow! I thought I was going to die of blood loss. Put raggedy old towels on the bathroom floor after taking a shower, or strip the rugs off the floor. Or both.
22. "Tucks" and hydrocortisone are your BFFs. Them, plus newborn diapers in the freezer instead of regular pads. Greatest concoction ever. The nurses will tell you what's up in the hospital.
23. Take lots of pictures in the hospital. You never get those moments and memories back.
24. Steal--I mean, take everything in the hospital home with you. Even if they tell you to leave them behind, like the thick hospital bed pads. You'll use them for things like tummy time, stomach viruses, and potty training later on down the road. Take all the baby blankets, too. They won't miss them.
25. You're not going crazy. I swear.
26. There will be times you feel like throwing your baby against the wall when s/he won't stop crying. That's normal. You are not alone.
27. There will be times your spouse feels like throwing the baby against the wall. That's normal, too.
28. You won't throw your baby against the wall. Or down the hall. Or out the window. I promise.
29. Walk away. Your baby will be 100% safe if you put him/her in the crib and shut the door to the bathroom, read a trashy gossip magazine, cry your eyes out, and eat a piece of chocolate. The same technique works when your child is one, and two, and three...
30. If breast-feeding isn't for you and your family, then it isn't for you and your family, and don't let anyone--I repeat, anyone, make you feel bad about that. Sometimes it's just not in the cards. If mommy's not happy, baby's not happy. I know plenty of breast-fed babies who are sick wayyy more often than my little girl who was only breast-fed for two weeks. Everyone survives.
31. Get out of the house as soon as possible. Throw away the old "rule" of waiting a month before taking your baby out in public. The longer you wait, the more anxious you'll become. In the very beginning, I made a quick and simple trip to Target and refused to let my husband help me so I could get the "complete experience". Just a quick trip is all you need. Then go home and pat yourself on the back.
32. MOST IMPORTANTLY: If you're feeling depressed or overly-anxious, please talk to your doctor and seek help immediately! If you are new to my blog and don't already know, I developed a severe case of postpartum depression after the birth of my first daughter. Worst and best thing to ever happen to me! [You can read more about it here.]
*On Being a New Mommy
33. The first 3-4 months are hands-down the hardest of your life. Everyone kept telling me to "hang in there" until the baby was three months, and honestly it took me closer to four before I didn't feel so stressed Every!Single!Day! There was more of a routine established and I had gotten used to the fact that I could run on little-to-no sleep.
34. Drink lots of water! Fill up a tumbler with a straw and drink, drink, drink. Your body will thank me. Oh yeah, eat, too.
35. I have kept a journal (almost) every single day of Emmalyn's life since Day One. I used this amazing journal. It made it so simple for me to jot down 1-2+ things about what she did during the day. I highly recommend it. I've made my own variation of the journal through Microsoft Word and Office Max for each year of Emmalyn's life. I leave it open on the counter and write something down whenever I can remember to. From first words and foods to play dates to ridiculous temper tantrum scenarios. With that being said, if journaling ain't yo thang, don't sweat it! Which leads me to...
36. Every mom has "their thing". Mine happens to be documenting/journaling my daughter's life. It's something I've basically done since I was kid anyway, therefore it comes naturally to me. Your "thing" might be making pretty hair bows or bow ties. Or, taking really creative pictures. (I wish that was "my thing" but it's not.) My point is, don't feel bad if "your thing" isn't "her thing" or "this-really-hip-and-cool-mom's thing". Cut yourself some slack. If it stresses you out too much to do the latest Pinterest-new-baby-trend, then don't do it. It's not worth it.
37. Don't worry about the appearance of your house. No one truly cares, and everyone totally understands. Because trust me, your house won't be "back to normal" until... until... well if it ever gets back to normal, someone please tell me when.
38. No matter how many years of babysitting and nannying experience you have, you'll almost entirely forget everything you know. She just pooped all over me! What the hell do I do? Go to the sink. That's what you do. Needless to say, you'll inevitably forget that's the most practical solution and simply freeze with poop in your hands instead.
39. It will take you at least three days to do one load of laundry. Day one to wash, day two to dry, and day three to fold. Oh wait--make that four days. Day four to put them away. This is just for one load, mind you.
40. Making freezer meals totally saves your butt. Granted, you won't feel like cooking at all in the beginning (that's what moms and mother-in-laws are for), but eventually you'll ease back into it. My life was dramatically easier for the week I made freezer (Crock-pot) meals. Yes. One week. I really should take my own advice.
41. Let them get a little dirty. One of my favorite new-mommy memories was when I let Emmalyn loose at the strawberry patch. It had just rained the night before and she couldn't walk yet. It was so muddy, but I let her crawl through the fields and she had the most fun ever. I did too. I didn't even care that I ended up having to throw away the outfit she wore.
42. Always over-prepare. Stock up on wipes, diapers, paper towels, regular towels, and extra clothes. Keep them in your car at all times. You never know when you'll need them and you'll always be relieved to have them. On that note, pack an extra pair of clothes for yourself. 'Ya never know...
43. Don't ever let anyone convince you to do something you don't want to do, or convince you to stop doing something you want to do. Case in point, I had many people deter me from cloth diapering Emmalyn before she was born. They told me it was disgusting and I wouldn't be allowed to use their washing machine. I gave in and didn't cloth diaper. I completely regret not standing my ground.
44. Never underestimate how long it takes to get out of the house. Your normal fifteen minutes can easily turn into thirty (or more) when you realize Little One has a messy diaper just as you're putting him/her into the car.
45. You probably won't feel like you have the whole "motherhood thing" under control until your baby turns a year old. It's almost as if a light switch goes off and your shoulders become more relaxed and you exhale, ahhh....
46. Your belly button CAN go back to normal! I've read all these blog posts about how women's bodies stayed squishy after baby, and I'm here to say it doesn't have to be that way. Personally, my hips are a little curvier, but I happen to like it better that way. I feel more womanly. I easily fit back into my skinny jeans within six months postpartum. And my abs totally returned--maybe even better than pre-pregnancy. All it takes is a little determination and hard work, but you can do it!
47. Get involved in Mom's groups and outings as quickly as possible. You'll feel less insane.
48. Don't be afraid to ask other moms for their phone number. Sure, you'll feel silly at first, but then you'll come home to your spouse, jumping up and down, feeling like a giddy teenager who's crush just circled "Yes". Trust me when I say the other mom was too scared to do what you had the guts to do. After all, we're all in the same boat--desperate for other mommy-friends.
49. Ask for help. People really do want to help when they offer. Take it. Trust me.
50. Do something for yourself, and for you and your spouse. Don't ever forget about the man who helped give you the most beautiful gift you've ever been given.
51. Never forget the most important piece of advice I could ever give to any new mommy: No one ever has it all together. If they tell you they do, they're lying.
P.S. What tips would you share with mommies-to-be and new mommies out there? Or if you're anxiously awaiting the arrival of your newest one, do you have any questions?
If you think this post was helpful, please feel free to share with other prego/new mommies!!
Professional pictures by: Marissa Poulter