8 honest truths about life with a newborn

June 23, 2023 | by Edward-Elmhurst Health
Categories: Healthy Driven Moms

Calling all new moms-to-be. You can do the prep work and read all the “what to expect” books, but nothing can quite prepare you for what it’s like to have a newborn until you bring your baby home.

The truth is, you’re about to enter uncharted territory. You’ll have to master new skills on little sleep, and probably after an exhausting labor. At some point it will hit you that you now have the awesome responsibility of a new life. That’s a lot of pressure.

Some parents handle the newborn phase with more ease than others. Here are 8 honest truths about what it’s like to have a newborn:

  1. You will need help. You know what they say – it takes a village to raise a child. This is not the time to be a martyr. If family or friends offer to help, say yes! You’ll want to enlist help with laundry, cooking, cleaning, shopping, even just someone to hold the baby while you shower or nap. Have a babysitter (or two or three) in mind so you can get out for quality time with your partner or take a break for yourself.

  2. You will be sleep deprived. You’ll probably start out exhausted from childbirth; and newborns wake up all night long because they need to be fed. The obvious advice is to sleep when the baby sleeps, but some new moms don’t do sporadic naps very well. Arrange to have a trusted family member or friend stay with you after you bring your baby home. Take turns with your partner to cover the night shift. Hire a nighttime nurse if you can. Whatever you need to do to get some sleep, do it.

  3. Babies cry A LOT. Hearing your baby cry is the worst, but it will happen a lot. Is she hungry, gassy, sick, does she need a diaper change, or just want to be held? It will get easier to decipher as you get to know your baby. In the meantime, keep in mind the five S’s: swaddle, side, shush, swing, suck. Dim the lights, turn on white noise, go for a ride in the car, or try singing to your baby. Just know that babies cry all the time and it’s okay. If you have any concerns, that’s what your pediatrician is there for.

  4. Breastfeeding can be really difficult. If you think breastfeeding happens naturally, think again! If you decide to breastfeed, get help from a lactation expert from the beginning. She can help with latching, positioning and milk supply. You may want to have a breast pump on hand when you get home. Many new moms give up on breastfeeding. Try to remember, the first few weeks are the most challenging but it gets better. And if you can’t breastfeed, let go of the guilt; you’re a great mom.

  5. Get your partner involved from the start. Or you’ll regret it later. Encourage your partner to dive right in and spend as much time with the baby as possible. If you’re breastfeeding, let your partner do the bathing and diaper changes, or consider pumping your breast milk for nighttime bottles. When your partner is tending to the baby, leave the room so he’ll be forced to figure things out for himself. And please, keep comments to yourself if he doesn’t do things exactly as you would.

  6. You should expect nothing. You’ve probably tried to imagine what it will be like. You may have even idealized it a bit. The more expectations you have (for both you and your baby) going in to this, the more you are setting yourself up for upset. Babies are demanding – very demanding. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that when you’re home with your baby, you’ll have all this “free time” to organize the closets or try out new recipes. And try not fret over missed or delayed milestones, like rolling, crawling, etc.

  7. You will look and feel different. Having a baby brings physical and emotional changes. You just brought new life into the world! Recovery from labor and childbirth is hard enough; but you’ll also be adjusting to motherhood. It’s normal to cry for no reason and you may even get the “baby blues.” (Perinatal mood and anxiety disorders affect as many as 80 percent of women). Just know that it will get better with time. Your body will heal, your hormones will return to normal, and you’ll be able to sleep again.

  8. You can’t do it all. This is not the time to keep a perfect home. It’s not the end of the world if the house gets a little dirty or routines fall by the wayside. Instead of trying to keep up with your old way of life, just focus on the basics and let the rest go for now. And take care of yourself! Stay hydrated. Go outside each day to get fresh air. A healthy baby needs a healthy mom.

The newborn phase may feel unending, but it doesn’t last forever – the good or the bad. Eventually, your baby will start sleeping for longer stretches and the busy feeding schedule will slow down. Eventually, you will look back and realize you miss those tiny hands gripping yours and the sweetness of it all.

Because the truth is, you never thought you could love anything this much. 

Learn more about pregnancy and childbirth at Edward-Elmhurst Health.

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