6 Tips for transitioning into mommyhood

Sep 15, 2011 at 10:41 a.m. ET

No amount of books and articles can fully prepare you for motherhood. The best thing you can do is take it slow, be good to yourself, and consider the following tips for getting through the first months of mommyhood.

Mom resting with newborn

1Sleep when you can

You've heard it before, but it's worth repeating: Get sleep when you can. Sleepless nights are temporary, but they are real. For the first six to 12 months of your baby's life, a series of naps will replace a good night's sleep. Sleep whenever you can, and don't feel a bit bad about it. The dishes can wait. You need to be rested.

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2Call a professional when in doubt

Questions about everything from feeding and crying to sleeping and dirty diapers are bound to come up. If you are concerned about any potential health issue related to your baby, call a doctor. Do not rely on advice from family, friends or information found online for a diagnosis. Your child's pediatrician knows you and your baby, and is most likely up-to-date on the latest and greatest health studies.

3Take care of yourself

To be at your mommy-ing best, you must feel well and take good care of yourself. Exercise, eat right and find the time and support to do something each day that makes you happy.

4Take care of your relationships

A new family member creates a whole new dynamic in your relationships with the people who make up your support system. Be proactive and schedule a little quality time on a consistent basis with a close friend or family member. Plan a date night with your spouse, starting small with a little time away for dinner or a walk in the park together. Making an effort to balance your relationships as you adjust to life with baby will help lay the groundwork for a well-balanced household as your family grows.

5Ask for help

Don't wait for friends and family to offer help. If you need someone to help make dinner or clean the house while you rest, just ask. Often, people wait for you to make the request because they don't want to intrude during this special time for your family. On the flip side, don't be afraid to tell your more involved family members if you need a break and a little alone time with the baby.

6Don't worry about perfection

Doing the best that you can and just being there for baby is what really counts. Don't get so wound into parenting techniques, rules and guidelines that they actually stand in the way of you getting to know your baby. Listen to your baby's cues and signals, pay attention to your instincts, and enjoy your time together.

More tips for new moms

10 Newborn tips for new moms
New mom survival guide
5 Things every new mom needs