Bringing baby home? Read. This. First.
I have no doubt that every mother will agree with me when I say, during pregnancy the only thing you get more of than stretch marks and bad gas, is parenting advice. Between the always ready to share been-there-done-that mothers, parenting books and online resources, the information available today for new mothers is overwhelming. What’s more, you never know what to believe since one book will contradict the next, and what one mother swears by, another mother will insist did not work for her baby. Weeding through all of the advice can be daunting to say the least.
Looking back, I wish I was given more advice on how to deal with becoming a mother, and less on the three million different ways to rock a baby to sleep. I needed to know about the self-doubt and the failures that came along with motherhood, or that having a baby would take a huge toll on my marriage and personal life if I let it. After talking with numerous other mothers, I realized we all struggled with the same issues; things it seemed no one bothered to warn us about in between lessons on feeding, changing and rocking our newborn to sleep. I’ve put together a list of the top six things we all agree are so important for new mothers to know. Things we wish we didn’t have to learn the hard way.
1. Listen to your instincts, not Dr. Google. With so many online parenting resources and "how-to" books available today, most contradicting the next, don't get caught up thinking these resources know better than you do.
For example: If you know your baby is hungry feed him. Who cares if it has only been two hours and the book says wait for three. Screw that! Feed your baby. There is no reason to let your baby get hysterical trying to follow the guidelines.
I cannot stress this enough, trust what your gut and heart are telling you, because 9.5 times out of 10, they are spot on right. Every minute you second-guess yourself you and your baby will suffer. Go with your gut first. Always.
2. The decision between nursing or formula feeding should not become bigger than World War III. First of all, Breastfeeding is NOT "Plug and Chug!" Nursing is hard. Extremely hard. There is no plug in and feed feature to it. It takes time, a fair amount of discomfort and practice for both you and your baby to get the hang of it. (I mean weeks, not days) Ask for help. Find a lactation consultant. Be prepared for a possible battle that will take all of your inner strength to make it through...
Second, BREASTFEEDING MAY NOT BE FOR YOU. THAT IS OK! You, or your baby, may have a medical condition keeping you from being able to nurse. You may hate it. It may just not be right for you. This is VERY common, do not think you are a failure.
Plain and simple-You will either nurse or you will not. Regardless of what you do, your baby will be beautiful and wonderful and smart and articulate. Do what is best for you and your child. Do not let anyone make you feel otherwise. You are NOT! a failure. DO NOT LET THIS RUIN YOU!
3. Listen to your baby's cues. While babies can only communicate through body language and crying, within the first week you will begin to notice behaviors and different tones of crying that are clearly trying to tell you something. For example: Babies will give you cues for hunger WAY before crying, including things like REM, finger sucking and reaching with arms and legs. When you notice any or all of those cues feed your baby pronto, or the blood curdling screaming will be next! If your baby is tired some of his cues might be pulling at his ears, yawning and or quick jerky movements.