Did you know that most new moms have moments where they wonder if they have what it takes to pull off motherhood? It is true. Ask any mom you know. If she is honest, she will admit that this precious, loved baby has almost done her in on certain days. This does not mean moms are not completely dedicated to their babies. They are!
Becoming a mom is life-changing on all levels. It affects your body, mind, soul, schedule, home, car, and relationships. Motherhood will make your heart grow to a new size and cause you to love like you have never loved before. It will also cause you to question your very own sanity. And that is totally okay!
Babies, especially newborns, require round-the-clock attention and care. They eat every two to three hours and if you are breastfeeding, then you are likely the caregiver who covers that role most of the time.
Consider what motherhood requires. Your body is pushed to the most extreme limit. You are completely sleep-deprived. You are slowly healing from delivery or a cesarean section. You are producing breast milk and likely have pain associated with breastfeeding initially. Do not forget you will need to pump to increase your milk supply.
You will question every choice you make for your baby. Is she too hot? Did he eat enough? Why is he crying this much? What am I doing wrong?
You will doubt yourself. You will think other moms do it better. You might even call your own mom in the middle of the night and thank her for doing all of this for you. You had no idea before!
For a time, your entire life goes from a robust schedule of work, friends, marriage, nights out, hobbies, church, athletics, showers, and sleep to BABY. Just baby!
Is it worth it? ABSOLUTELY!
Is it forever? NO!
So, adjusting to motherhood may take longer than you think, and that is okay! You are not alone, and you will get the hang of it.
There are some things you can do to help you adjust to this brand-new title as “mom”.
When a friend or family member offers to help with food, house cleaning, keeping the baby, helping with siblings, or mowing your yard, your answer is always, “Yes!” Some people may not know exactly what to offer and may just ask you what you need. Do not be too proud or shy to give a real answer.
When my son was sick in the hospital, I was so embarrassed that I needed help to get our house back in order. A lovely and generous church group asked how they could help. I hesitated but finally told them my real need. Our house was sparkling when we walked in the door. Maybe you need a nap. Accept your friend’s offer to come and sit and listen for the baby so you can sleep deeply knowing your baby is being looked after.
Ask for Help
Sometimes people may offer to help you when you are actually doing well and you decline.
But what do you do when a few months later, you feel like you are drowning but no one is offering to help? You have been home a few months, and the newness isn’t so new anymore, but you still need help! Well, once again, suck up your pride and simply ask for help.
Reach out to a mom friend who knows how consuming motherhood truly is. Ask for your friend or family to help you in a specific way. Be flexible and respectful of their personal obligations, but make your need known. You are super mom, but you are also human, and you will need help!
Do Not Be a Hero
There is something that happens in us when we become mothers. It is as though we believe that we must be the ones to save the day and that everything must be done by mom and done mom’s way.
We want to kiss every boo-boo, wipe every tear, and do every bedtime. We do not want to miss any of it. Many will say that the days are long, but the years are short. This is true, and we should soak up every moment with our kids. We only have 18 summers with them at home.
Soak it up but know you do not have to be a hero and win every single moment. Others can pitch in. You can make mistakes. You can ask for forgiveness. Go put the superhero cape away, and just be mom!
Do Not Sweat the Small Stuff
A newborn can make you panicky. Every single noise they make can cause you to question if they are okay. You hear a sound in the night, and you jump up thinking it is the baby. Your baby has a blowout at church. Your baby is not doing exactly what another baby is able to do, and they are the same age. Dinner was burned because you were nursing. You owe several people phone calls and texts. You are not sure what day it is.
Remember that you are okay and your baby is okay. Things will happen. It will be annoying and even frustrating. But do not sweat the small stuff. Even the worst days where every little thing goes wrong will have an ending. You can start over tomorrow. There are new mercies every single morning!
Take Care of Yourself
Your body has changed since having a baby. You have gone through pregnancy, delivery or cesarean section, and your hormones are up and down. It is even affecting your hair and skin! Who knew?
Your newborn will require more than you can give. That is just the reality of little ones. But take a few moments each day to take care of yourself. A five-minute shower can change how you feel the rest of the day.
Listening to your favorite song or going for a drive can lighten your mood. A power nap may be just what you need to keep pushing through long sleepless nights. A conversation with a friend or listening to a sermon or attending church could lift your spirits and remind you of who you really are! Think of just one thing that might help you look after yourself a little more in these early months of motherhood.
Keep in mind that your body is healing and to take it slowly. Also know that many women experience postpartum depression. Seek out professional help if you are feeling the baby blues or just do not feel like yourself. It is completely normal! Do not put it off! If you do not know who to contact, start by reaching out to your OBGYN.
Breathe (Especially in Public)
Make a promise to yourself. Breathe! Take a deep breath when your baby starts to lose it. Babies feed off their mom’s energy. If you are frazzled, your baby will feel this from you. Pause for one second and breathe deeply.
It is particularly intense when your little one is crying in public. If you are in a store, at church, or on a plane, and your baby is crying, every single second can feel like ten minutes. Breathe in and out and soothe your baby with a calming tone. Do not sweat what others are thinking about you. Just center your attention on your little one and breathe.
When my son was eight weeks old, we flew to visit my in-laws. It was time to meet the grandparents! Normally I could calm my precious baby boy in just a few moments, but on the plane he was losing his little mind. I could not get him to nurse or take a bottle. He was so upset, and he cried and cried. At first, I felt embarrassed that he was causing such a disturbance.
After a few moments, I realized that I did not need to be concerned with the other passengers. I could not do anything for them anyway. I just needed to stay calm and focus on my son.
So, remember, breathe and do not worry about everyone else and their opinions!
Do Not Compare Yourself
No matter what you do as a mom, it is easy to feel as though you are missing the mark. Nothing is perfect and you cannot even meet the standards you set for yourself. There just are not enough hours in the day. This internal feeling of failure can cause us to look around and see how others are doing this thing called ‘motherhood’.
Recently, I was watching a mom on a YouTube vlog channel. She is a mom of 8 children. She wrote a book, creates and edits three to four videos a week, homeschools her children, runs a homeschool network, and is in the middle of moving to another state.
As I sat on my couch folding clothes while my one-year-old unfolded them, I felt inferior. I had not showered in two days. My house was a mess, and my kids needed to eat. Her hair and makeup were perfect. She was dressed for the day and I was still in pjs. We had not quite started homeschooling for the day for my first grader.
Everywhere I looked I saw my shortcomings. Why can this mom with five more children than me do so much more than I can? Goodness. I could not even get a shower, and she is writing books!
It does not help me in any way to compare myself to other moms. We do not have the whole story anyway. Perhaps this mom has someone caring for her children part of the day. What if yesterday she was the one with no shower and in pjs?
What you see on social media, and even in the lives of your mom friends, never gives you the entire picture. Things may seem as though these other moms have figured everything out, but the reality is that most moms feel like they are not reaching some unspoken ideal goal for motherhood.
Think about your own personal goals for you and your baby. To keep your stress lower, keep your eyes on that and not on others.
Another way to adjust to motherhood more easily is to think ahead about what you might need when you leave the house. It can be so stressful if you are trying to make an appointment and you reach for a diaper and your diaper bag is empty. Now you have to go home or stop at a store.
Here is an example of what not to do! Several years ago, I was flying home after a visit with my parents. I packed the diaper bag and my purse with my baby in mind. I had thought of everything including extra bottles, a nursing cover, diapers, wipes, extra outfits for my son, and little toys.
What was I missing? After my baby spit up all the way down my shirt, I realized that although I had thought about my baby, I had not considered myself. So, I spent this long travel day with a wet, smelly, spit up shirt. Yuck!
There will be things you cannot possibly think of when it comes to little ones but keep the basics in mind and take the time to bring what you need. It will minimize some of the stresses new mommies face.
Create a Schedule (But Do Not Hold It Too Tightly)
A well-rested baby makes for a more peaceful day for everyone. Honoring a sleep, play, and eating schedule will help you and your baby learn each other and help prevent meltdowns for the both of you!
You cannot force your baby to do what you want at any given moment, but babies do respond to routine. Their little bodies and minds anticipate what is to come next.
When I worked for a large church in New York, I would help out in the nursery sometimes. Like clockwork, those infants knew when it was about five minutes before their parents were to arrive. They could sense how long they had been there and remembered from week to week how long they typically stayed.
Your baby will be more relaxed if he or she knows that they will eat when they need to eat. If you can lull your baby to sleep before they are overly tired at around the same times each day, you both will be better off. For more information about building a schedule for your baby, see what La Leche has to say.
Do not be too rigid because babies are often unpredictable and go through big changes every few weeks, including teething and sleep regression. Build a general routine but hold it with an open hand.
Learn Your Baby
Knowing your baby will help you with the big adjustment that comes with motherhood. All babies need to be loved and to eat, sleep, and play. But each baby is different and has preferences that will help with fussiness. Learning your specific baby will be so helpful!
If you have been a mom for a few months, you may already have noticed that that your baby is talking to you. That is right! Your infant can talk. Well, he or she is trying to let you know exactly what they need.
I know it might sound crazy, but your baby’s cry tells you what he or she needs. It might take a bit of time to learn what the different cries mean but it will help you tremendously with adjusting to new motherhood. Check out this article on decoding your baby’s cry.
Paying attention to your baby’s patterns is important. My one-year-old is so busy. He is walking all over the place and so very curious. He gets into everything. But I have noticed that right when he wakes up, he always wants to sit on my lap for a few minutes.
I think this is the only time he actually sits still all day. I can easily be in the midst of something and not remember he prefers this. He will get so fussy. If I just stop and soak up those precious, slow moments with him, he is so much more at peace. He just needs mama to pause what she is doing and hold him. It is a sweet, treasured time that I have learned helps him feel secure and loved.
Your baby may want to wake up alone in the crib and not be held. My older son preferred this. This is where paying attention to your baby’s patterns and triggers for extra fussing will be so helpful to you and your baby.
What preferences have you already noticed about your precious baby?
Accept This as a Season (Do Not Try To Do Everything Right Now)
I always have a running to-do list in my brain. I have new ideas and goals that I want to pursue. I have dreams for my family, our home, and my career. I see that my house needs to be cleaned and phone calls need to be made. There is not enough time in the day to accomplish all that is pulling at me in my heart and mind.
I have to remind myself regularly that this is a season. My boys are young. They need me to do nearly everything right now. I can already see my first grader doing so much more. He gets dressed and can get his own snacks.
I can feel frustrated at moments that I cannot complete my agenda. I can feel like I have lost my old self in so many ways. I simply cannot do everything I used to do on any given day.
Hear me, new mama! This is a season. You will go to the bathroom alone again one day. I will let you know when I get to. But I know this day will come. Right now, you are making dinner with one hand and fitting your entire life into nap time. I get it and I am the first to be overwhelmed by my desires to do things I simply cannot do right this moment.
This season with little ones will not last forever. They will not always need to be held around the clock. As my dad tells me, one day you are hanging on my leg and the next day, you put your suitcase in the car and left for college.
The days are long. The hours are long. The nights are so long.
But the years are so short. Deep breath. You are still you!
Give Yourself Lots of Grace
This one is so important. Guess what? You will make mistakes. You will not be prepared with the right clothes. You will forget formula. You will get spit up without another shirt. Your child will hit their head and scrape a knee. You will raise your voice and then apologize for it.
What does it look like to give yourself grace? It means you give yourself permission to mess up. You understand that you are not superhuman. You are a mom! You do not have to get it all right all the time.
You will need time to adjust to being a mom. Then you will seem to get a hold of it and even have some semblance of a routine. Then your child will change and you will need to adjust again.
Motherhood is about always growing and changing with your child. You learn how to do one season and then another comes. Give yourself the space and time to learn and change with your child.
Give yourself grace!
Remember that your baby does not need a perfect mom. Your baby just needs you. You do not have to know everything the day you become a mom. You will learn and grow each day just as your baby is learning and growing. Love you baby and love yourself.
If another mom says there was no adjustment period to motherhood, she is not telling the whole truth. You can do it, and you can do it at your very own pace, mistakes and all!
How has your adjustment to motherhood gone? Any tips for all the new mommies out there?