Here are my top "7 tips for Heaven" for new moms!
1. Trust your gut!
You were picked to be this baby's mother and you have exactly what it needs. Try not to listen to everyone else about what YOUR baby needs when your gut tells you different. Although well meaning, many seasoned mothers and grandmothers give out unsolicited advice and although it may have worked for their child, it may not necessarily be right for yours.
2. Give breastfeeding a fair shot.
Alot of new moms are intimidated by breastfeeding or they're scared to try it because they are worried they can't measure how much volume the baby is getting. With breastfeeding it's hard to overfeed. As long as your baby is hungry, you can nurse. If your baby is gaining weight, you know they're getting enough. Breastfeeding promotes bonding & creates secure attachment, reduces allergies and asthma, decreases SIDS risk, strengthens immune system, improves sleep, digestion, and overall development. It also reduces the risk of post partum depression for the mother AND helps mom regain her pre-baby figure bu burning upwards of 500 extra calories day! Breastmilk has the precise amount of nutrients, fat, protein, carbohydrates, and water that your baby needs and it's composition adapts as baby gets older to continue to provide the right amounts of everything baby needs. Formula's benfits don't even compare! Hire a lactation consultant if necessary and give it a fair shot for your baby.
3. Take the "4th Trimester" seriously.
The first 3 months of your baby's life is known as the "4th trimester" because your baby still needs time to adjust to the real world. In the womb it was dark, warm, snug, and there was constant motion and white noise. Then baby is born to a loud environment with tons of external stimuli, bright lights, and way too much space. When their arms and legs are free it feels as if they're falling and they startle. Keep lights low, white noise such as a fan on, and keep baby swaddled very tight. The only time a newborn-3month old should be unswaddled is for bath, skin-to-skin, tummy time, or diaper changing. Otherwise-wrap 'em tight. Swinging side to side or light jiggles (hold head tight) are soothing and remind baby of the womb. I highly reccomend all new parents watch and read "The Happiest Baby on the Block" by Dr. Harvey Karp.
4. Avoid Toxins
An American baby is born with over 200 toxic chemicals found in it's umbilical cord! We must help prevent further exposure to environmental toxins by taking precaution and educating ourselves about foods, cleansers, and baby proucts (one of the most toxic items consumers purchase). Use glass bottles, toxin-free diapers, and air out all swings, carseats, and furniture before placing baby near them. Anything that comes in plastic or is covered in fabric off-gasses toxic chemicals that cause repiratory issues in infants. Glass bottles prevent exposure to BPA. One might argue, "But I bought bottes that say BPA free?" Well, unfortunately manufacturers have started marketing BPA free, but they're actually using another chemical (brand new) that has not been proven safe either. Glass is the only safe bet. BPA mimicks estrogen causing endocrine disruptions, future infertility, and hormone imbalances causing behavioral disorders. Mainstream diapers are made with dioxins, chlorine, and another chemical that was banned from tampons in the 80s for causing toxic-shock syndrome. It's still used in diapers! Use cloth diapers or buy disposable diaper brands like Earth Best, the Honest Co., or Seventh Generation. They're all organic and toxin-free.
5. Make Yourself a Priority
Many mothers have bought into the idea that once you're a mother you should sacrifice everything for your baby. Unfortunately, that causes issues such as postpartum depression, unhealthy attachment with the baby, marital stress, and dissatisfaction with motherhood in the long run. The best thing for your baby is for you to model self-care and maintain your individual identity. Journal or blog, take walks, meet friends for lunch, and continue doing the things you enjoyed pre-baby. It may look and feel different now, but you're still YOU! Don't feel guilty about having a life outside of motherhood.
6. Nighttime is business time.
When you have to get up to feed or change baby in the middle of the night- it's strictly business. It may be hard, but fight the urge to talk to baby or smile and coo. Baby needs to learn that nighttime is a different time and it's a time for sleep. Go to your baby, change, feed, burp, put down.
7. Communicate with dad
Husbands often get forgotten during these early days. They struggle with identifying their role and sometimes they pull back because they're not sure how to interact with or care for their new baby. Let your husband try things out on his own and trust him to figure them out. The diaper might be on backwards, but let him figure it out for himself. If he wants guidance he'll likely ask for it, but be sensitive that caring for an infant is not natural to most men so tread lightly when giving feedback. Also, let him know what you need from him. Maybe you pump breastmilk occassionally so he can do a bottle feed in the evening, let him take the baby for a walk while you take a bubble bath, or ask him to cook dinner those nights you're really exhausted. Men want to know how to support you.
I hope these tips help. If you're pregnant now or you're a new mom consider yourself very blessed and treasure each and every moment. Try not to get caught up in worrying about doing everything "right". It's YOUR baby.