Becoming a Mom

“What we usually hear is that motherhood is ‘the best thing that ever happened to me,’ or
‘I’ve never been so stressed out in my life.’ But for most of us, it’s usually somewhere in between.” –New Mom

Becoming a Mom

“What we usually hear is that motherhood is ‘the best thing that ever happened to me,’ or
‘I’ve never been so stressed out in my life.’ But for most of us, it’s usually somewhere in between.” –New Mom

Motherhood: Your Biggest Game Changer

“You have this idea of how you think things will be and then the baby’s born and you realize it’s a whole new world…every single day you’re learning and figuring it all out.”   — New Mom

The transformation a woman goes through when she becomes a mom might be the most incredible of all life experiences. No one is more committed to another human than a mother is to her child, and the courage and strength women bring to motherhood deserves the ultimate respect. But it’s easy to forget all this once the baby is born, because motherhood can be tough…especially for new moms.

We're here to tell you that becoming a mom is the biggest game-changer, and it's natural to go through up and downs. Becoming a mom will change your relationship with your partner, your body, your feelings, your goals, and the focus of your life.

The intensity of those first few months with a newborn won't last forever. Slowly but surely, you and your baby will get to know each other better, you’ll build routines, find a rhythm, and grow in confidence.

And luckily, it will be the best thing you’ve ever done.

READ! The Real Joys of Being a Mom

Making Peace with MommyLand

MommyLand is what we call the giant world of health care, books, magazines, websites, podcasts, TV shows, baby stores, and more. Its mission is to support mothers and babies and it does that well, but it can also make you crazy. The constant stream of flawless looking moms, babies, and families on social media fools us into thinking that’s the norm: it's not.

The overload of info out there is fueled by the fact that moms have 85% consumer purchasing power, and marketers know how to push your hormonally supercharged buttons. The result is moms can feel pressured to be “perfect” and deal with guilt when they think they’ve gotten it wrong. Plus, so much advice is conflicting, which just leads to unnecessary confusion and stress.

So the key to navigating MommyLand is to keep it in perspective and create boundaries when needed: If it’s stressing you out or making you question yourself, step away. And if you end up down a research rabbit hole, cut yourself some slack. Seldom do the decisions we make have the huge, emotionally charged impact on our baby that we attach to them at the time.

Second-time parents will tell you they learned from their first go-round to be more relaxed about things. They’re also better at ignoring critics and letting go of unrealistic expectations, which makes for a much less stressed out mom, dad, and baby—a VERY good thing.

When in doubt, trust your gut and don’t second-guess: You may not be a baby expert, but you ARE your baby’s expert.

“I was so proud of all the books I read to get prepared. And it’s great to have some idea, but I thought the books probably knew better than me because they were written by experts. In retrospect, I should have given myself more credit.” 

–New Mom

Amanda: Be Gentle with Yourself - Everything Changes (2:07)

"My doctor and her pediatrician told me not to read too many books, because you kind of overload your brain. And if you get too much information and too many other opinions, then you get confused overall. So just go with it and you'll figure it out."   

–New Mom

"You get on Pinterest, Facebook, etc. and you get shamed—none of it felt good to me and I was so confused. So I found my own small group and we support each other. I try the advice that makes sense to me, and I have a really chill pediatrician that I go to with the hard stuff. All the 'shoulds' are really hard."

–New Mom

Milestones for New Moms

With all the challenges motherhood brings, it helps to know when you’re making headway. So here are some progress markers to let you know you’re growing more confident each day…

GETTING LATCHED

For brand new moms, learning to breastfeed a sleepy infant can be really frustrating, so the first time your baby “latches” on and starts feeding: YES!

“The first couple of weeks were the most painful, because the baby’s learning to latch, and I thought I was going to give up, but my husband was so supportive and things get easier. Now she can eat in five minutes: everything gets easier.” – New Mom

MAKING A NEW-MOM FRIEND

If you’ve already made a new friend in your birth class or mommy group, fantastic! Having a fellow traveler on the mom journey to hang out with and share your ups and downs, is definitely great progress.

“I wanted to hang out with other moms I could talk to and who knew what I was going through…I made friends and we put our kids together, so we have the same milestones.”

– New Mom

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REGULAR SHOWERS

Nothing says “There’s a new baby in the house!” like not showering for two or three days at a time. Even though you know it will help you feel better (and human), sometimes, it just won’t happen. And that’s okay. Eventually, you’ll get back to daily showers and when you do, you’ll know you’ve passed another (clean!) hurdle.

"If you’re at home with the baby, get out. Take them out for walks, even just around the neighborhood. It makes you get dressed, it makes you take a shower." – New Mom

GETTING MORE SLEEPING 

For the first couple of months, sleep is usually a major challenge: You’ll never love your bed as much as you do after having a baby. And getting solid stretches of sleep becomes the Holy Grail. But as your baby grows, he’ll start dozing for longer spurts and then one day—boom—he’ll sleep right through the night and you’ll do a big happy dance: Winning!

“At the beginning, you’re so tired and your body just deals with it...That’s where teamwork really comes into play, and you kind of just figure it out with your partner.” – New Mom

UNDERSTANDING YOUR BABY'S CUES

Like meeting anyone, it takes time to get to know this new little person in your life. Slowly but surely, you’ll start to recognize your baby’s cues for sleepy, hungry, over-stimulated, or “Mommy, I need a walk!”

“In the beginning, you’re just kind of guessing what your baby needs—going through a mental checklist of things. But then, one day, you realize you can tell by a certain sign that your baby’s getting tired or needs some fresh air. It’s really subtle, but it definitely happens, and it’s such a relief!”  – New Mom

FIRST TIME OUT: JUST YOU AND BABY

It’s hard to believe running an errand with your baby will feel like a big deal but it does...What if she cries? What if my milk leaks? What if the stroller won’t open? Having someone with you that first time will take the edge off and give you a sense of security. Pack diapers, wipes, a blanket, a change of clothes, and food (that may be you!) and keep it short but sweet. Once you’ve got the first outing under your belt, the second one is much easier and soon you’ll both love getting out of the house.

“It's so important to get OUT. It will do so much good for you, and it's a good thing to do with your spouse or partner, just getting out with the stroller.”

– New Mom

(SECOND!) FIRST DATE WITH DAD

With a new baby on board, it’s easy to put your relationship on the backburner. Before the birth, get a date with Dad scheduled (you can always move it if need be). And don’t plan a long evening for this first one; just getting out of the house together is a big win. Leaving the baby with someone else, you’ll likely feel a mix of things—excited and anxious—and may end up checking your phone a lot—everyone does. The second time out, you’ll know what to expect and it will get easier and easier.

“I kept making excuses, because I was so nervous about leaving the baby, but we finally just did it and went out to dinner. It wasn’t exactly the most relaxing evening, but it was good to have that time together and to re-connect.”

– New Mom

GETTING SOME OF YOUR PRE-BABY LIFE BACK

This one’s tough. We put so much guilt on ourselves that we hesitate to take time off from the baby, even when we know it’s important. Eventually, you’ll get back to doing things you enjoy—an exercise class, working on a hobby or degree, or having time to yourself or with friends while Dad’s with the baby.

“When my son was about three months, I decided to go back to work part time, just ten hours a week, because it was something I loved. It made me happy and it made me a better mom, having that time for myself.”

– New Mom

So What Can I Do to Prepare?

The fact that you’re here, reading these words, means preparation is under way!

In terms of readying yourself emotionally, one of the greatest things you can do is embrace motherhood as a journey, not a destination. Go easy on yourself, and know that it’s an ongoing learning curve. At every age and stage your baby goes through, there will be new challenges and joys. 

A study commissioned by English brand Munchkin found that it takes a new mom four months and 23 days to get her “mommy legs.”

57% admit that those first few months after the birth passed by ‘in a bit of a blur’ because they were so worried about getting everything right.

6 in 10 say they wish they hadn’t worried as much as they did at the time.

47% were surprised at the amount of time it took for them to properly get the hang of being a mom.

1/3 felt so worried at some point they told a friend or family member they didn’t think they were a good parent.

1/3 didn’t talk to anyone about their worries, because they didn’t want to be thought of as failing or struggling in their new role.

These numbers prove that whatever your experience, there are other moms right there with you. Finding your tribe—people you can share the journey with and who make you feel supported—makes all the difference when it comes to thriving. And throughout this Field Guide, you’ll find tons of information and resources to help you prep for all areas of motherhood.

GETTING ORGANIZED

When it comes to organizing your life for the Big Arrival, clearing the deck and freeing yourself up to focus on settling in as a family is The Goal. Now is not the time to start remodeling or taking on major obligations...

“It’s helpful to plan ahead in general. One thing is to have a lot of frozen food. When you’re sleep-deprived and getting up every two hours, you probably won’t feel like cooking or even getting take out. So it’s good to have a supply on hand of canned food and frozen food to heat up and eat.”

– New Mom

“I honestly got good advice, and that was to let others help you. That was really what kept me sane when I wasn’t getting much sleep. Your mother-in-law, well at least mine, became my best friend. Your mother and older woman in your family are full of wisdom and they want to help. Even just letting me sleep, and letting go so I could nap. We agreed that we would let people help.”

– New Mom 

 

"I feel like I’ve learned a hundred things. I’m kind of a type-A and plan every minute of every day, and I was really worried about anything to do with babies—picking the best diaper and the best way and the best cream—and everyone told me, 'You’ll get over that.' And I thought. 'You don’t know me; I will not get over that.'  But you really do. All that anxiety when that baby pops out, it will all go away and there’s something inside of you that will just know, so have confidence in that."   

- New Mom

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