This is a part of a series of guest posts for first time moms that I have put together from a variety of moms with a variety of perspectives. This one is written by Liz of A Belle, A Bean & A Chicago Dog. Please stop by her blog to read more of her posts. You can also follow A Belle, A Bean & A Chicago Dog on Facebook & Twitter.
I'm so happy to be here today, taking part in Cameron's New Moms Tips Week! I'm Liz, a 32 yr old mom of 2 girls, and my tips below are what I learned following the birth of my first daughter, four and a half years ago.
I firmly believe in the power of numbers, and the saying, "It takes a village." Motherhood is like nothing else imaginable, and surrounding yourself with as many Mommy Friends as possible will be beneficial to you.
This story is mine, just like yours will be uniquely you. I hope you can take away a thing or two that will help in your New Mom Journey...
Take a baby care class along with your child birth class - This would be my first tip for first-time moms-to-be. So much of the emphasis and focus during your pregnancy is on your labor and delivery. But during labor and delivery, you are surrounded by seasoned, trained professionals that guide you through the process.
A short 2 days later (or 96 hrs if a C-section), you are sent home with this tiny, new creature and left to survive the wilds that is parenthood all.on.your.own.
I promise - a baby care class will be worth your while!
Don't assume breastfeeding will be easy - Sure, it's "natural" and what Mother Nature intended, but don't expect that the first (or even twentieth) time you put your newborn to your breast, that your baby will perfectly latch on and happily suck away.
Trust your mama instincts - The moment your child enters the world, you are a mom. And along with that single, defining moment comes your mama instincts.
If something doesn't seem right, just ask. Your intuition is more insightful than you realize.
Don't hesitate to call your pediatrician's office you have questions - I really wasn't aware of all the services offered by most every pediatrician. During office hours, you can call in and just ask to speak to a nurse who will either answer your questions or let you know if you are better off bringing in your baby to be seen by your doc.
Also, most ped's offices have after-hours lines. Typically, you call your ped's office, which is forwarded to an answering service, and you leave a message with them. A nurse will call you back shortly.
Your baby will be seen by someone from your ped's office while still in the hospital, so your baby is a patient from that point in time. Even if you haven't been into the office yet to see your ped for a well-baby visit, don't hesitate to call if you have a question!
=The 4 points above all factor in to my first-time mom newborn story=
When I was pregnant with my first child, I desperately wanted to breastfeed.
Kate was born full-term, weighing in at 6 lbs 9 ozs., and we were discharged without as much as a peep that our teeny baby was jaundiced.
As a breastfeeding mom, you are repeatedly told that it can take 3-5 days for your milk to come in, and that your baby is getting what they need until then.
We got home from the hospital, and after one night and the following morning, Kate had not had a wet diaper. I did not take a baby care class, but remembered reading somewhere about the maximum number of hours a newborn could safely go without having a wet diaper.
Kate was absolutely beyond that point.
Craig first called back to the hospital, and the nurse again reiterated that it takes a while for a mom's milk to come in. But it just didn't sit right with me.
A few hours later, I called the after-hours line at my ped's office, and spoke to a nurse. I will never forget hearing her words, "Oh honey, you need to get that baby to a hospital!"
At that point, I handed the phone to Craig, tears streaming down my face.
He finished up with the nurse and we headed to the children's hospital.
Long story, short - Kate was jaundiced and severely dehydrated.
I won't get into the hell that was our time there...just that we spent 4 days in the kids' hospital before going home for good.
*Also, I want to add that my experience is far from the norm. Most new parents take their baby home and there are no complications whatsoever. Just make sure to ask questions and go with your gut if you feel uneasy.
"Baby Blues" are very real, and in my case, so is P.P.D. - After you deliver your baby, your hormones level drop quickly and drastically, thus the source of the Baby Blues. I had read all about the Baby Blues, what the symptoms were, and how they can last for 3 weeks after delivery.
What I don't remember is exactly when I told Craig that I was concerned it was more than just the Baby Blues, but it turned out that I was suffering from Post-Partum Depression.
Until I was diagnosed with PPD and began telling others about it, I was unaware with how - dare I say - "common" it is. I think too many people still feel like it isn't a topic that is OK to talk about. However, I found that someone in every circle of my life either experienced it themselves or had a close friend or family member who did.
When I started Zoloft, I was still breastfeeding (although I had to supplement, too, due to her jaundice and dehydration). I was hellbent on nursing my baby. I was also pumping after each feeding in order to increase my milk supply.
Unfortunately, it wasn't enough.
Between nursing, followed by pumping and adding in my anxiety caused by the PPD, I wasn't eating or drinking. I dropped all my baby weight in 2 weeks, and my milk dried up.
I had obviously been supplementing with formula, but I still had been hoping to eventually breastfeed exclusively. However, it just wasn't going to happen for me.
There is a lot of emphasis placed on breastfeeding today. And while I do believe it is natural and has more benefits than even the top formula, it simply is NOT for everybody. Further, women who choose to move to formula should not feel guilty about it.
Another point to consider would be that my generation is primarily formula fed because breastfeeding wasn't "in vogue" in the 70's. And my mom, who is a child of the 50's, has joked with me, "God only KNOWS what was in OUR formula back then!"
The fact of the matter is this: Babies have been raised on formula for GENERATIONS, and have thrived and grown into healthy, intelligent, productive adults. So if breastfeeding isn't for you, don't beat yourself up! Happy moms make for happy babies!
I guess if I had to sum it up in 1 overall tip it would be: DON'T have any expectations. There is no way to know what life's going to be like once that tiny human is placed in your arms, so don't put more pressure on yourself by thinking things have to be a certain way. Just take it day by day, and do what feels right.
Best of luck on your new journey called mommyhood!