Being a new mom can be a real bitch sometimes. With all the love and excitement and cuddles, come other, less warm-fuzzy things. But general enjoying of the newborn experience is possible if you can focus on what’s important, and forget about fussy details and silly societal standards. To maintain sanity, avoid these top 7 new-mom mistakes.
- Trying too hard. You aim for cute and coordinated baby outfits, complete with accessories. You plan to breastfeed like a beast. And the books you read give you complete instructions for every conceivable situation. Unfortunately, shit happens. Literally, and figuratively. Here’s the thing new moms…if your baby is fed regularly, changed regularly and loved continuously, you’re doing an amazing job. Your bundle of joy might just be unbearably grouchy or blowing out diapers like a boss, and there’s no real one-size fits all solution to picture perfect infant parenting. Don’t try so damn hard to fit into a set of standards and ideals created by other people in other situations, because nobody gets it “right”.
- Catering to every cry. Obviously, new babies express their needs in one way; crying. Having said that, they are adapting to a new environment, growing at a rapid rate and quickly training you to comfort them, so their cries can feel continuous. There is no way to know what a baby is thinking and feeling, but it tugs at our heartstrings to hear a anything from a soft sob, to a curdling cry. Just know that if you’ve exhausted all possible comforts, it is ok to let them ride out a couple shrieks without your undivided attention.
- Holding it in. Your hormones are raging, your body is tired and your psyche is probably less than solid. There is a lot that goes on with a new baby in the mix and holding it together can take a great deal of effort. So don’t. Have a good cry or step into another room to scream. It’s ok. Expressing frustration or feeling overwhelmed doesn’t make you less of a mother so no need to manage your emotions. Let it out.
- Bouncing back too fast. Growing babies is hard work and takes a toll on the bod. Whether it’s weight and stretch marks or a tear from here to there, give it a minute. There is a reason most doctors don’t clear you for unrestricted activity the moment you step out of the hospital. Focus on what feels right…like your baby, sleep, and sanity. Once you tackle those three things, ease into achieving your pre-baby activities and body. And know that even if it never gets back to what it was, it’s totally badass that you grew a human in there and then somehow got it out. Embrace your new body.
- Letting daddy dip out. New babies sometimes freak new dads out. The mom often has this sense of connection for months before birth. They understand there is a human about to be a tiny dependent human in the world. In my experience, dads are subjected to a much more shocking experience. One day, there is a wife with a tummy that sometimes moves like a scene from alien, and the next there is a little ball of responsibility. At times, new dads can try to escape the stress, in part because they lack confidence in their abilities to care for a newborn like a mom can. But don’t let them dip out. Coax them with compliments and boost their confidence so they own their new dad role from the get-go, and give you a break from time to time.
- Having control-freak fantasies. Moms (and women in general) tend to be overbearing nurturers. If there is a plan (and a back-up plan), a list and a schedule, life will go like clock word. Except it won’t. There are far too many variables outside your control (and this applies to life, in general). Open yourself to adapting and don’t sweat the small stuff. Trying to control things is really what strips us of our freedom to be present. Be free and enjoy moments by rolling with the punches, and know that the fantasies of control (especially with a new baby) are exactly that…fantasies.
- Neglecting numero uno. A new baby requires continuous commitment to care. So priorities change accordingly. Your sex life is lackluster, showers are a second thought to just about everything else and any focus on self seems selfish. But to be the best mother and caregiver you can be, it’s important to offer your best self. During this time period, your best self might be a modified version of what it once was, but it is possible to produce. Although the baby is the new kid on the block, you still have to look out for numero uno (YOU) because nobody else will. Take a walk, enjoy a bubble bath, get your nails done, read a few chapters of a book in a quiet place…whatever it is your soul needs to secrete loving mommy-ness, feed it.
Moms…you are amazing, even in moments of panic. You are wonderful, even in moments of frustration. You are beautiful, even in moments of self-deprivation. You are strong, even in moments of need. You are capable, even in moments of chaos. You got this.