We can always ask other mothers, read books, and watch videos about motherhood. But the truth is, you will only learn more and adjust to this life change if you are already experiencing it yourself. However, this doesn’t lessen the difficulty and worries that first-time moms feel after giving birth.
Before my first daughter was born, my husband and I have already planned and prepared for everything. From the hospital, baby-proofing our car and house, and even every baby needs she’ll need; we got them covered. We spend days reading useful guides for choosing the proper newborn stroller and talking to our parents on what to expect in the first months.
Still, I can’t get the overwhelming emotions out of my system. After we went home from the hospital, it’s taken me some weeks to adjust to motherhood fully. So if you’re a first-time parent, here are some things that I wish I had known back then.
Be Kind to Yourself
The first one is as simple as being kind to yourself. You might be thinking that it’s something that you never overlook, but when I was a new mom, I thought it’s normal to be a bit harsh to myself. And looking back, it wasn’t just a “bit” harsh; I was actually criticizing myself unhealthily without noticing it because I’m used to it.
I remember how the worries rushed into me the moment we strapped our little one in her newborn stroller on the way home. I start to think so much about what-ifs, and I immediately doubt myself if I can actually do everything. It’s funny to look back now because even if it’s so scary, the truth is that my husband and I are perfectly capable of being parents.
The first day when you realize that you already have your baby at home with you, you’ll immediately feel the wave of “woah I am really in charge of this another human being.” And besides the anxiety, you might feel a bit of sadness, also known as baby blues. But don’t worry because this is normal due to the changes in your hormones. Once they get to their balanced levels, you will feel much better.
While I am aware of what to expect, it still hasn’t stopped me from being too critical towards myself. Every time my daughter cries or even sneezes, I immediately think that I’m doing something wrong. I even go as far as saying, “Look at you, you’re already messing this up, and it has only been a few weeks.”
However, such things shouldn’t cause that much alarm. And they also shouldn’t cause you to feel disappointed with yourself. Just because your newborn cries a lot doesn’t mean that you are a failed parent. But to put yourself at ease, you can always call your pediatrician.
Stop Chasing Perfections
Ah, the good old setting of expectations. And once you fail to meet them, you are going to be harder to yourself. However, stop right there and listen to me. To adjust well into motherhood, you have to remember three words; stop chasing perfections.
There is no such thing as a perfect mother. Along the way, you’ll grow as you learn. And most of the time, you have to experience difficulties and use what you’ve learned to be better tomorrow. But if you beat yourself up for not being a textbook mother or failing to match what you’ve idealized beforehand, you will not move forward and grow.
Before giving birth, I can’t help but create a mother that I’ll be in my head. She has all these traits, and she can do all these things. But motherhood is unique to everyone, and what you see from books or other people may not apply to you. For example, there might be days where you can have difficulty breastfeeding. And because you have ingrained in your mind that you will never bottle-feed your baby, you feel that you have failed to do so.
You might be putting too much pressure on yourself to do things that are not applicable at the moment. But if you take a step back, you’ll realize that you are still a “good” mom because you’re making sure your baby is well-fed, even though you can’t physically produce a lot of milk.
Maintain Open Communication with Your Partner and Be Open for Help From Others
Another thing that you might forget upon entering motherhood is that you are not alone in this. Yes, it may feel like you are being incapable and selfish if you think of sharing the responsibilities and thoughts that bother you with other people. However, your partner, friends, and family are all supportive and willing to help you in this lifestyle change.
Your partner is probably just as excited or nervous as you with this dependent human in the house. However, he/she might have a hard time knowing how to be helpful in the situation. Therefore, maintaining healthy and open communication with him/her is the best way for both of you.
You can’t be mad with your partner if he/she fails to do something that you failed to communicate with. And this will just lead to arguments and miscommunication that can put a strain on your relationship. What works for us personally is that I get to take care of the baby during the day, and then he takes the shift at night.
This schedule works for both of us, and we didn’t feel too overwhelmed with all the work. You can also divide the tasks between the two of you throughout the day. This way, you and your partner can do what you have to do separately and then focus on the baby duties more efficiently.
Set a Time-Out for You
The last tip that I can give you is to set a time-out or me-time for yourself. It can also be an us-time with your partner once a week, where both of you can just bond alone. Don’t feel bad needing to get a nanny or help from friends or family. After all, you will only be effective parents if both of you feel great mentally, physically, and emotionally.
It doesn’t even have to be a whole day as well. When you do shifts with your partner, you can use your free time just to relax and practice self-love and care. It’s not that you’re neglecting motherhood, but everyone needs a recharge to be better when your little one needs you.
I remember when I’m getting too stressed and angry easily, I cool down by screaming in the pillow in our room. It seems ridiculous and it might look like I’m failing to suppress my emotions. But it’s actually the opposite since I’m acknowledging my frustration. Instead of making rash decisions, I had the time to take out my anger on something else much more healthily.