Life as a new mom can be challenging. You feel exhausted; your body aches from childbirth, and you find breastfeeding a tedious task that you’re yet to master. You are still figuring out your baby’s eating and sleeping pattern and you constantly feel overwhelmed. And the guilt of not doing your best wears you down. You are almost always on the verge of breaking down.
When I gave birth the first time, I wish motherhood came with a rulebook. I went through a roller coaster of emotions and had no clue how to navigate through it all. Whenever I turned to fellow moms, they reassured me that everything would be worth it in the end. I wish I had someone who told me that my feelings were valid, that it’s okay to prioritize yourself every once in a while, and it’s normal to feel sad about all the changes in my body that pregnancy has brought upon.
Since I had no one guiding me through the experience of being a new mom, I have listed down five things I would do over as a first-time mom. Scroll down to find out what they are.
1. I Would Have Showered More
Most moms are torn between new-mom responsibilities and taking care of themselves. The first few weeks of motherhood can be tough, and with postpartum bleeding, it’s ideal to take a shower every day. But it’s not an easy choice since you would rather spend that time tending to your baby’s needs or trying to keep your house clean.
I wish I didn’t skip a shower during those days, especially because getting those 15-20 minutes to myself would definitely have been refreshing. It’s such a small thing, but having those 20 minutes and staying clean would have been relaxing and a lot better than staying in a breast milk soaked shirt for the entire day smelling like a disaster.
2. I Wish I Had Done More Skin-To-Skin Contact With My Baby
Despite having a normal delivery, I missed the opportunity to have skin to skin contact with my son. If I had a chance to do-over, I would discuss my wish to have skin to skin contact with my baby soon after birth with my doctor and hospital staff. And because I wasn’t aware of its benefits and how much it helps strengthen the bond between a mother and child, the closest I did to skin to skin contact was hugging my child while breastfeeding. Oh, how I wish I could go back in time and enjoy time with my newborn in the most intimate way.
3. I Would Have Prioritized Sleep Over Everything Else
Sleep takes a backseat when you’re a mom with a newborn to take care of. Your little one takes up all your time and energy throughout the day. Since your newborn is yet to settle into a sleep schedule, you will find yourself waking up at odd hours throughout the night to feed or change your baby’s diaper.
During the first six months after my baby’s birth, I hit a new level of exhaustion caused by sleep deprivation. But despite feeling tired all the time, I would struggle to take naps during the day even when an opportunity presented itself. Instead, I would do the laundry, clean the dishes, or find myself engaging in other chores. This made me tired and cranky. I wish I had prioritized sleep over everything else and slept when my baby slept. It definitely would have given me more energy and helped me carry out the tasks as a new mum more efficiently.
4. I Would Have Used A Breast Pump Sooner
It wasn’t until my baby was almost seven months old, and I was ready to go back to work, that I thought of using a breast pump. Pumping breast milk was definitely a lifesaver as I didn’t have enough time to breastfeed my baby. But oh, how I wish I had started pumping sooner. I realize now that I could have had a lot more sleep by sharing the late-night feeding duties with my husband had I started pumping sooner.
5. I Would Have Introduced A Pacifier Sooner
Using a pacifier has several pros and cons, but I have learned that the pros far outweigh the cons. Whether it is to soothe a fussy baby, help your baby fall asleep faster, offer temporary distraction, or even reduce the risk of SIDS, a pacifier can be your go-to accessory (1). Had I chosen the pacifier route sooner, I would have slept better at night and wouldn’t have found myself in helpless and awkward situations whenever my baby refused to calm down and went on a crying spree.
When it comes to motherhood, there are no do-overs. But you can always learn from your past experience and build a better future. And I hope this post serves you as a guide on how to make the most of the first few months of being a new mom.