I kind of hate to be cliché and write about 5 things I wish I’d known before my baby was born, but it’s a post I would have appreciated reading while pregnant and I hope it helps someone else out! These are all things I really do wish I’d understood so I could have been better mentally prepared, not the “you’ve never loved someone else so much” kind of stuff. I truly hope that these things I wish I’d known before my baby was born help someone else out and look forward to readers sharing their advice in the comments!
“Sleep while your baby sleeps” is the most frustrating advice ever. Based on how much this advice is handed out, I thought it was actually a legitimate possibility. Hahahahaha. That’s before I realized a few important things. For starters, your baby may not want to nap unless she’s being held or worn. Society and advertising would have you believe that your newborn will be blissfully snoozing away in her own crib for like 90% of the day but chances are really good that just won’t be the case for you. I know some babies are naturally ‘good’ sleepers and take naps with no problems, but I’ve talked to so many friends who’ve confessed that they basically held their baby for the first (4/6/8/10/etc.) months at nap time. Just think about it – if babies were naturally so good as sleeping on their own, why would there be a gazillion products to ‘help your baby sleep’ on the market? 🤔 Also, as it turns out, at least a third of parents fessed up in a study that they lie about how much sleep their babies actually get! (you can read more about that here) And, let’s be real, even if your baby does nap independently and even if you’re exhausted, chances are really good you’ll want to use the time to do shower or brush your teeth or maybe even just sit there doing nothing for a minute without a tiny human on you!
All babies are different. Really, truly. It’s amazing how incredibly different babies are from one another. Before having a baby, I just kind of saw all babies as generically babyish, but now I’ve realized that they are all totally their own little people! I know several babies who are with a month or two of LG in age and they all have likes and dislikes (that are frequently completely opposite from another baby’s likes and dislikes!) Try to get to know your baby without worrying about what other people tell you to expect or what your baby “should” like/do. Unless you notice something that is a major developmental red flag or your pediatrician says to worry, try not to stress about what you baby seemingly is or isn’t doing because babies are their own little human beings who do things their own way at their own time. Stressing and Googling every little thing will just lead you down a rabbit hole of lost sleep and wondering why babies on the internet seem to be doing X before your baby!
The problem isn’t the problem. The problem is how society has made you think things should be. Newborn babies are totally unaccustomed to the outside world and have very limited ways of coping with it. Babies cry and increase the amount of crying each week for the first couple months of life. If you’re not familiar with the Period of Purple Crying, I highly recommend you do some reading and look at charts about how much babies tend to cry. A high crying baby may cry 5-6 hours a day (or more!) during their peak period of crying. This crying may be inconsolable and for absolutely no apparent reason. It’s hard for everyone, but please take heart in knowing that it’s only a phase. Additionally, if your baby only wants to nap in your arms, you’re not a bad parent who did something wrong. You’re not a bad parent if your baby fights going to sleep. You’re not a bad parent if your young baby wakes up every 2 hours at night. You’re not a bad parent for wanting some “me” time or for any of the other zillion reasons you’ll probably question yourself over at 2 am.
“You’ll bounce right back” is kind of a lie. I exercised throughout pregnancy and I’m very glad I did. I also exclusively breastfed until we began introducing complementary solids (LG is currently eating some solids and still getting most of her nutrition from breastmilk, which is the way it should be for her current age.) People will tell you if you stayed active and/or are breastfeeding that you’ll “bounce right back” or “get your body back” in no time. Harhar. I’m sure it’s true for some minority of people, but it wasn’t for me! I think people say things like that to be encouraging, but, in my experience, it just ends up being discouraging and makes you wonder what you’re doing wrong when it isn’t true. I didn’t reach my pre-pregnancy weight until LG was 6 months old, even though I worked out until I gave birth and got back to it as soon as I could after her birthday. (At 9 months pp, I’m several pounds below my pre-pregnancy weight.) Even so, my lower abs and pelvic floor are not where I’d like them to be. It’s okay – I’m working on it. I’ve also realized that a bit of my linea nigra is probably here to stay and I’ve accepted that. Take care of yourself physically, but also care for yourself mentally. Be kind to yourself.
Trust your mom instinct. Just because something “works” for someone else doesn’t mean it will work for your baby or you. Don’t force something just because someone tells you that you “should.” For example, our baby hated swaddling pretty much from day one! You know your baby better than anyone else. By the same token, if something doesn’t feel right to you, then take action, even if someone else thinks you’re silly. If you’re concerned about something, go ahead and call your pediatrician’s office, even if your husband/mom/mother-in-law thinks you don’t need to. Official recommendations for what to do or not do with babies have changed a lot in recent years. Don’t let well-intentioned, but outdated, advice from friends and family members make you doubt yourself! Look up the latest official recommendations in your country and stay strong (even if you’re totally sick of explaining to your mother-in-law for the millionth time that you shouldn’t try to force feed your newborn rice cereal). Trust yourself, mama!
And, speaking of trusting yourself, please start doing it long before your baby arrives! I spent several months practicing Hypnobabies every day and it really programed my mind to expect to be able to handle my birthing time confidently, calmly, and without pain. Long story short – it worked! (You can read all about our amazing Hypnobabies birth in this post if you’re interested in knowing more.) People will try to tell you labor horror stories. Please don’t let this fear get into your mind. Trust yourself and trust your body. Even before I started Hypnobabies I was using these lovely pregnancy affirmation cards – they’re a great place to start. The majority of the time, your expectations shape your reality. Trust in yourself, mama!
So there you have it – my list of 5 things I wish I’d known before my baby was born! I think that really knowing and believing these things prior to LG’s birth would have saved me a lot of worrying, late night Googling, and even disappointment. What do you wish you’d known before having kids?