Being a new mom is an amazing experience, but the adjustment can also be very difficult.
From the sleepless nights to wondering when you are going to look and feel like your old self again it can all be very confusing. I became a first-time mom April 21st of last year. My daughter, Elin, entered the world at 8 pounds, 20 inches long with a very large head. Here are ten of the most difficult things that I found about being a new mom – some of them I expected, some of them I did not.
The first few weeks were a blur. I hardly slept, but not because of my daughter. I was one of the lucky ones as my daughter slept through the night as soon as I discovered the amazing combination of the SwaddleMe® Pod (the one that zips up) and the Rock n Play®. She seriously slept from 8 P.M. until 6 A.M. It was glorious.
Meanwhile, I was paranoid and woke up at least every hour to check on her. Is she OK? Is she still breathing? Some nights I would just stare at her. Eventually, I learned to relax and we were all able to sleep peacefully through the night.
2. You Will Still Look Pregnant
You will still look pregnant after you give birth. This came as a total shock to me. Your uterus doesn’t just magically shrink down now that your baby is outside of your body. I remember taking our dog for a short walk about a week after giving birth. I thought I looked great, and then my 25-year-old neighbor quickly brought me back to reality when she asked, “When is your baby due?”
I didn’t know if I wanted to laugh or cry. Thankfully, I laughed and explained to her that it takes a while for your uterus to go back to its pre-baby size. Now there is one less future mom who will be shocked by her post-baby appearance.
Everyone will have advice for you. Seriously, even people who have never had children. It can be overwhelming. What works for your friend/sister/cousin and their child or pet may or may not work for you – and that’s OK!
4. Dealing with Mom-Shamers
Mom-shamers are what the mean girls from high school grow up to be. You may think that you’re posting a cute photo of your little one looking at the (unplugged) Christmas tree, but there will inevitably be a mom-shamer lurking in your social media circle who will try to tell you that you’re being irresponsible. My real friends reassured me that I’m a great mom, did nothing wrong, and that the mom-shamer needed to get a life.
Two weeks after we welcomed our daughter, my husband and I were eager to be intimate with each other again. We found new ways to be intimate with each other – cuddling, massages, etc. When we had sex for the first time, it was very different. First, it is awkward – you may be interrupted by your crying newborn. Secondly, your body is different. It will feel different. Go slow. Use lots of lube. Don’t stress if it feels strange. It will take time for intimacy to resume to pre-baby levels and intensity.
Once you have a baby it seems like everyone wants to come and visit. Do not be afraid to turn people down. Set guidelines for visiting. Do not ever feel guilty for turning a visit down or asking someone to reschedule a visit. Newborns are on their own schedule and are very fragile.
It is a totally normal feeling. I felt so guilty the first time I left my daughter – and I only went to the grocery store. Our daughter was safe with my husband while I had my first solo public outing. My husband encouraged me to do small mini-outings. This really helped to alleviate some of the feelings of guilt that I had, and helped me to deal with separation anxiety.
8. You will be sore
Giving birth is hard. It will take some time to recover. C-section and vaginal births each have their unique sets of recovery challenges. Listen to your body (and your doctor). While it may feel like you’ll never feel like yourself again, you will – just give yourself some time and follow doctor’s orders.
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9. Getting back in shape
This can take a while. We lived in Florida when I gave birth, so I was fortunate to be able to take our daughter for walks. I started off with a short 5-minute walk the day after I returned from the hospital. I added a few minutes each day. It was a great way for us to bond, and I found that I was gradually getting back to my pre-baby size.
10. Figuring out if/when you’re going back to work
I planned on going back to work after my maternity leave ended. However, I had a career where I traveled weekly. My feelings started to change once I held our daughter for the first time. Make sure that you and your partner have several realistic discussions about your post-baby plans. Set a budget. I took all 12 weeks of maternity leave and I did return to work for a month. It was incredibly difficult for me being away from my daughter.
I also noticed that I started to feel tired again and that my nipples were darker in color. Yes, I returned from maternity leave pregnant! We are expecting our second child, a son, later this month. Having two children under one changes everything and I am now a stay-at-home-mom.
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Jessica resides in Ohio with her husband, 10-month old daughter and dog Leelee. She enjoys spending time with her family and friends, travel, cooking and meeting new people. She will give birth to a son later this month. Bring on the #IrishTwins! Her Instagram handle is @irish_twin_mom.