The Best of the Best
New mama alert: from the moment you conceive, you’ll no doubt be bombarded with well-meaning motherhood advice on what you need and how to raise this new baby of yours. We’ve weeded through the know-it-all nonsense and compiled a list of honest insights, directly from a few of our most trusted friends and confidantes who’ve been where you are—and survived. Here’s what they had to say:
What was indispensable for you in the months following your child’s birth?
The most overwhelming response was a support system of people you trust, whether from a partner, friends or family, or even a network of other moms. “My significant other and I shared our parental leave and spent more than the first 3 months of our baby’s life together,” says Manola, mother to a 20-month-old baby boy. “His help, support, love and care was everything I needed to be the happiest first-time mom—who could sleep whenever she wanted!” The important thing to remember is not to be afraid to ask for help, and to give yourself a break from time to time. Of course, there are certain items that could also make this post-birth period a little bit easier: keep your nipple creams close, witch hazel compresses, breastfeeding pillow, and receiving blankets.
What do people not tell you about having a baby that you wish you would’ve known?
People tend to focus on all the beautiful, positive aspects of having a newborn—and it’s quite normal, after all it’s the miracle of life. But every new mom deserves to know the bad, the tough and the ugly, too. “You will feel like a truck ran you over and you may feel overwhelmed often,” says Wendy. Also, “you will never sleep as much as you did prior to having kids,” says Patricia, mother of two girls, 9 and 2. Having a baby won’t just change your life, it will also change the dynamic of your relationship with your partner. Remember, “you don’t have to listen to everybody’s advice,” says Alysia, mother to two little girls. It’s important to find what works for you and your partner and how you want to tackle the challenges of being new parents together. The other thing that’s often difficult to accept, is that it’s not always unconditional love at first sight with your baby, according to Manola. “It’s even more beautiful: it’s a growing love that will never cease to grow the more you get to know each other.”
What has most surprised you?
Most parents don’t realize how much they will grow with their children. “I’m most surprised by how much I learn from my baby,” says Nancy, whose daughter is almost three. “I learn a lot from them,” agrees Alison, mother of two boys. “I didn’t think I could love someone that much,” says Zakya about her 5-year-old girl.
What would you say to your pregnant self today?
Of course, hindsight is 20/20, so take it from these moms who’ve been there, done that: Relax, and enjoy the ride. “Don’t worry too much,” says Patricia, “with time everything changes. Everything is just a phase and it will pass.” One thing is for sure, it all works out, and you and your baby will be just fine.