a guide for the first time mommy

i am highlighting the fact that i am not an expert. i am just a first time mother who has a free time writing this while my baby is sleeping. *fake laugh*

as a FTM (first time mom), there are a lot of unknown things that we would face, but i promise you, eventually you will know that things and become an expert within days. but, in the early days, we are blur, we are dumb, and we are clueless. almost 7 months postpartum, several times i bumped into thoughts of "i should've known this" or "if only i knew this" or "i wish i knew this", and etc. this is my view, it is not a valid guide, just personal opinions based on my experience.



1. you need a hand (a lot of hands if possible), but you don't need people to tell you what to do without being asked first.
this is important, that's why i am putting it as #1.
once you are discharged from hospital, you are home, and bang!, there you go. people are become so nice to you; asking you every hour on what you need, or sending you a glass of water when they see you don't drink for quite a while. but, at the same time, they start to tell you what to do and what not to do; because they think they are experienced. it is helpful to have experienced people around, to whom you can ask questions to; but it is frustrating when they are telling you what to do without you asking questions.
i believe mother nowadays are smart; we read, we google, we join classes, and we ask questions before going into labor. so, the knowledge should be enough to prepare you to become a mother. and once your baby popped out, we are ready to apply all the knowledge we gathered before.
be clear to people who are trying to tell you what to do that you know you are doing. ask them nicely to try your own way first, and when it doesn't work out, you would ask for help and try their ways. be firm and confident on what you want to do on your babies; if you only want to bathe them once a day, do it. if you don't want powder, then no powder. if you prefer wet tissue rather than water to clean their poop, then be it. it's your baby, you will be the one whom taking care of him/her most of the time, so it's your way.

2. ask your husband to take one week leave (or more if possible).
having your partner to be around in the first days is priceless. husbands will have your back 100%, and they should be the one who understand what you have been going through, so a hug or two is very comforting.
during their off-week, they can help as much as they do, especially during night time. if you bottle-feed, your husband can help to feed your baby, or wash and sterilize the bottles while you rock your baby. if you are breastfeed, they can help massage your back or just wake up to accompany you.

3. eat whatever you want and drink a lot water.
note that! do not limit yourself on what you are gonna eat, because it is stressful enough of not able to eat something you want during that 40 weeks of pregnancy. so, this is the time! if eating makes you happy, go for it! it's good for your health, for your sanity.. and also your milk production!

4. babies are different.
if you are happen to give birth within the same period with your friend, you can't help yourself to compare. it's not quite right, but it is not wrong either. comparing is good, in a way, you can share the good things you know and you can learn on what other people do to their babies. but, when it comes to comparing and being distressed because your baby is not like other babies, well.. something is definitely wrong.

babies are different, and so are the parents. you are not like other parents, so stop comparing your babies. the milestone written in books and articles are just guidelines, there are always time range that you could see and time limit that you should aware. so, if your baby is not able to lift up her head at 4 weeks while other babies are able to, do not worry. just wait and embrace the time, be patient and watch your baby's development day by day.

5. if you are determined to breastfeed your baby, don't stress out if the breastmilk hasn't came out in the first days of postpartum.
relax, mummies! there will not be so much milk in the beginning, only few drops of thick yellowish liquid, called colostrum. if your baby can't latch well, keep trying. if you are clueless, pump it out and let baby drink it from a cup. a newborn could survive for days without drinking, that's what people say.

hand massage helps a lot! or if you feel weird to massage your breasts, set the massage mode in your breastpump and do it regularly (i.e. every 2 hour). eventually, the milk will kick in some days, you just have to wait. and it is not sinful to give formula milk in the beginning, if your baby is really really hungry and there is not much you can do. don't feel guilty, you are trying to feed your hungry baby ;)

6. breastmilk or formula milk, it doesn't matter, as long as you are comfortable with it. don't listen to other people's opinion, it's your call.
some older generations are more comfortable with formula milk and claiming that formula milk is much better than breastmilk.
while, some groups in nowadays generation are too purist that they are anti-formula milk-to death.

my suggestion is, stand by your choice. if you think formula is better and so much easier, close your ears and carry on. some people are just too mean on commenting on other people's business, especially on how other people raising their kids (i don't know why). some pro-breastfeeding groups just don't know on how difficult and messy it is to be on formula milk-parents; washing, sterilizing, mixing powder and water with the correct measurement, and etc. there is no easy way with newborns, to be honest. 

and if you think you can breastfeed your baby, then do it! be stubborn on it and latch on. bear with the cracking nipples, bleeding, and engorgement. on my early days, i couldn't towel my nipple for almost a month, it was just too painful.. every time my baby latch on, i try not to scream due to the sharp pain on the nipple. all the labor pain has already transferred to the breast. but, it will pass and there will be better days after that.

7. co-sleeping or not, it's your preference.
co-sleeping is easier for new mother, as you don't have to wake up and lift up your baby to feed (if you breastfeed). but it's also dangerous because you don't know what will happen when you are asleep, you may squeeze the fragile newborn in your deep sleep, because - you know - you are so tired and else.

baby cot is much safer, but it's troublesome to wake up and lift your baby up every 1 or 2 hours. but, i read from somewhere, it's good to put your baby in the cot as they will learn that they have their own personal space. and in the future it's actually easier to sleep weaning your baby.

8. babies like routines.
try to set a schedule since early days, it's easier to manage a baby with schedule. it's not necessary to set the exact hour for every single activities, but at least you set the timing for their wake up time, their bathing time, and their night sleeping time. also, set a routines that lead to each activity, for example: feeding before bathing, or light off before night sleeping time, etc.

9. start tummy time as early as possible (check with your PD, if you are not sure).
i always regret that i didn't start my baby's tummy time earlier. turns out it's really helpful to reach other milestones, if the tummy time has been established earlier. it helps to strengthen the neck muscle, helps to improve baby's lung, helps to improve baby's backbone, and many other reasons.

even if baby hates tummy time, it's okay to let them do it only for a minute or two each day. they will get used to it and somehow they will be able to enjoy tummy time at one point.

10. swaddling helps.
in the beginning, i did swaddled my baby. and gradually, i ignored the swaddle because she seemed not comfortable being swaddled, i just wrapped her chest down and let her hands free. it was a not-so-right approach, because babies are easy being startled and swaddling is actually really helpful to calm them in their sleep.

a sharing story from a friend; she swaddle her baby up to 6 months old, her baby is able to sleep from 10pm to 5am since very young. the baby is not easy to wake up because of a single click sound, because she feels safe in the swaddle.

and since that day, i swaddled my baby again until she was about 5.5 months old.

11. imo - newborn is easier to handle, rather than a 4 months old baby.
well, you know, it's just my opinion! sometimes i miss the days when i just breastfed her, she fell asleep, then i had my 2 hours free time. 

the older babies are, the more waking time they are having.. and as a mother, you have to entertain them. you have no time to take a bath, to cook, to read, or to clean your house. when you leave them in their box, they will cry because nobody is accompanying them, then you have to get back to them and be with them the whole time until they sleep again. and guess what, they only sleep for an hour! so, say hello to the mess in the house! be thankful if you have a helper, be really thankful.

12. accept the fact that this is your new job. with no annual leave.
yes, that's right! accept the fact (especially for stay at home mother) that this is your brand new 'exciting' job, congrats!

honestly, some days, i am just a lazy person with no mood. so my goal that day is just to go through the day and fast forward to night time. the only priority on those days is fulfilling the needs of my baby (that's all); the rest.. i close my eyes to the house chores, i throw all the dirty plates and mugs in the kitchen sink, forget the fact that i need to fold the dry clothes, let the dining table full of craps, and do not care if i leave the banana skin on the side table.

although i have no 14 days annual leave, i have my own version of the "off" day. for the days like that, my husband is forbidden to comment on whatever i do. period.

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enjoy motherhood, mama! and feel free to add in if you have your own "guide", will be happy to hear it ;)

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