As a new mom in 2019, I have learned more from the experience itself versus the tons of books or online resources I have read. It is true when they say that there is NOTHING that will ever prepare you well enough for motherhood. There are also far too many debates on what is right/wrong that can be extremely overwhelming for a new mom. In the end, the best advice that anyone can give you is “do what is right for YOU and YOUR BABY!”. Here are a few tips from my experience that I hope you may find helpful.
#1 Download the app “BabyCenter” from your app store
While pregnant, this app made it easy to visualize the little human growing inside of me. It provided weekly updates of how he was forming and what to expect. The day it told me that I might feel the first movement, I felt it! There were so many things I did not think about yet; this app kept me on track and helped me to feel more prepared for the coming of my baby. After giving birth, it still continues to send updates on what to expect with my baby and his milestones each week/month. I love it!
#2 Join a moms group on Facebook
There are several moms group out there. Personally, I joined Brownroots Baby Mama, The Cleavage Club: Breastfeeding Support Group and Montessori at Home (0 to 3 years). These are by no means the BEST groups out there, but they worked for me. You can check them out or do your own research and pick one or a few groups. I joined them while pregnant and it was good to read about other mom’s birth stories – the good and the bad! I have also found them helpful for recommending things to do when baby is fussy, teething, etc. You can get feedback on various products you might be considering to purchase for your baby. Best of all is that you can connect with other moms going through the same challenges/feelings and it is reassuring to know that you are not alone. I really learned a lot from these groups.
#3 Set expectations with your partner regarding sex
If you are in your second trimester and feeling energized, I strongly suggest that you take advantage of this feeling and have sex regularly! If you made it to the third trimester with no complications so far, then “hop on” and enjoy too. Keep in mind however that sex can trigger labour as you get closer to your due date. Now, you may have read that your body will need approximately 6 weeks to recover after giving birth – so no sex for the first 6 weeks. Your partner might also be informed of this and think “no problem, I can wait 6 weeks”. But here’s the truth: you both may need to wait a few MONTHS! Assuming that you did not tear “down there”, 6 weeks MAY be fine for you. However, the majority of women that I know (with a tear and no tear) can all relate to that initial pain they feel when they TRY to have sex between 6-8 weeks later. This also applies to women who may have gone through a c-section. Sex becomes incredibly painful for a few months – you will need to go slow and use A LOT of lube! For many it begins to feel “normal” again 5-6 months later. The luckier ones are good to go by 3 months!
#4 Aim to do most of your labouring at home
You may have heard about the 5-1-1 rule: you are most likely in “active” labour if your contractions are 5 minutes apart, lasting approximately 1 minute each consistently for 1 hour. This is the point when it is recommended that you go to the hospital. Hopefully from there, your labour should not last much longer. My goal was to commit to this rule because I knew I would be more comfortable at home and I wanted to get to the hospital with just enough time to push. Needless to say, this rule failed for me! What no one ever told me was that it is possible for your contractions to start coming that frequently and then slow down later on. Between 8am – 9am, I had the 5-1-1 contractions. I got to the hospital by 9:30am and all of a sudden they were 10-15 mins apart. I was clearly not in active labour yet. I strongly recommend that if you plan to use this rule as well, consider waiting until the pain is so intense that you cannot talk through it – that is when you should head to the hospital. If the contraction ends and you are able to have a conversation or even take a bite of food, chances are that you aren’t there yet…trust me, that pain is some next level $h!t!
#5 Consider the epidural if your labour is long
I was all for having an “all natural birth”. I told my nurses “NO DRUGS WHATSOEVER!” I even told my husband to stop me if I ever decided to cave. But after being in labour for more than 12 hours already and only 7cm dilated, with no food, no sleep and the pain getting stronger, I was hungry, tired and weak. The only thought on my mind was “How will I ever be able to push when I get to 10cm?”. My biggest fear at that point was a c-section; I did not want one! So I begged for the epidural and to date, I think it was the best decision I made for myself in that moment. I did not feel a single contraction from that point on and I slept until it was almost time to push – which gave me the energy I needed to push for TWO HOURS! Don’t beat yourself up if you decide to go that route too. Labour is hard and you are amazing either way for having made it that far with a complete human being inside of you! Similarly, if you have a c-section, you are still just as awesome!
#6 Download the app “Glow Baby” from your app store
I wish I knew about this app before I went to the hospital. The first day after giving birth, I had to log each time my baby pooped, peed, fed and slept (as per the hospital requirement). It was time consuming and sometimes I simply just forgot to look at the time, so I guessed a lot. This app simplifies that. It has all the categories of things you would want to log, shows the trending and also provides great feedback the more you log. I still use it today with my baby being 7 months. I highly recommend it!
#7 Find a paediatric dentist in your area that can do “lip or tongue tie” revision in babies
One of the common stories I heard while pregnant was that many moms never had the opportunity to breastfeed because “their baby would not latch”. As a result, they felt forced to introduce their baby to formula. That is not a bad thing! But if you truly have your heart set on breastfeeding, it is possible for you! Many doctors, nurses and paediatricians are not trained in identifying lip or tongue ties in babies and therefore do not usually advise moms on getting this issue resolved to help their baby breastfeed. If your baby does not latch on day 1 or you find breastfeeding consistently painful (after several weeks), I encourage you to get your baby checked for a lip or tongue tie and have it revised, then your breastfeeding journey can begin pain free! Do your research on this if you want to learn more. I LOVE breastfeeding and would encourage you to not give up if your only issue is that “your baby will not latch” or “it is too painful”.
#8 Do not pump before 6 weeks
Assuming that you have chosen to breastfeed, it is highly recommended that you do not start pumping before 6 weeks. You need to give your body time to adjust to your baby’s demand. Pumping may confuse your body and cause it to produce more milk than is needed, resulting in an oversupply which can further lead to clogged ducts, mastitis and other breast issues. I received bad advice on day 3 after giving birth (a story for another post) and I pumped a few times before the 6 weeks – it was horrible! My boobs were always very full and painful; my son would choke almost every time he fed due to the strong “letdown” causing him to unlatch and make a mess. Over time we got the hang of it and my body is more regulated to his needs, but I still have a bit of an oversupply.
#9 Get a bathroom scale at home
Most people probably have a scale, but I did not. When I realized that a key measurement for my baby was his weight, we got one! It is important to know that your baby is consistently gaining weight. If you ever notice a decrease, you can act quickly. Knowing your baby’s weight is also useful in selecting the correct diaper size as well as for purchasing baby clothes online. To use the scale – weigh yourself with baby then record that, weigh yourself alone and subtract the two numbers to get the baby’s weight. Do not forget to strip the baby down to nothing – those diapers can add a few pounds!
#10 Visit a baby chiropractor
Did you know that such a thing existed? I didn’t! Luckily, we have insurance that covers chiropractic visits and we decided to try it (based on recommendations from other moms). Chiropractors examine the bones and joints of the spines to detect any abnormalities that may interfere with the communication within the nervous system resulting in some abnormal function of the body. Labour can cause some misalignments in our babies (especially long labours) and these can result in gas/colic/sleep issues. If you feel like you have tried EVERYTHING and your baby still seems to be suffering from gas pains or sleepless nights in those early months, I encourage you to see a chiropractor that specializes in babies if you can! You may be surprised at the difference it can make.
If you made it this far, thank you for reading. I hope it has been or will be helpful for you, your partner or someone you know that is about to be a new mom. Feel free to share this post with anyone you think that needs these tips.