Being a new parent can be exhilarating, beautiful and intimidating all at the same time. You are in new uncharted territory and therefore may not have a clue as to what to expect and what may actually be your reality as a new parent. You may have read every book, website and listened to knowledgeable and opinionated fellow parents and family along the way, but ultimately, you know that when you’re alone with this wondrous new life, it may just be you and your instincts that will make the decisions in caring for your bundle of joy.
First, it is best to prepare ahead of time to make things as comfortable as possible for when you arrive home. Be sure that your home is ready to receive you and the new baby. If you are fortunate, you can get help in cleaning and organizing your home. No matter how much or how little space you have to share among your growing family, you have to find ways to de-clutter, and make your dwelling as baby friendly as possible. This may require you to shed some household items that are no longer useful to you. You may choose to recycle or donate those items. Remember, as your baby grows, so will your collection of “stuff”, so it’s best to start off with a clean slate at home. There’s so much more to come…
Second, be sure to understand that you’re not going to do everything perfectly, but it will likely work out perfectly – for you. What I mean by that is, you must trust your inner spirit. If something feels right – most likely it is. If it feels wrong, and your instincts are sending you signals that question your judgement, then you may want to reevaluate and/or seek advice. There is nothing wrong with asking for help. In fact, it can make you feel more at peace in knowing that you sought out answers and thwarted any potential mishaps along the way.
Third, you want to remember that babies do cry – a lot. And no baby has ever been injured from crying. Even though many a parent may say their ears have suffered injury from their little one crying their little head off. So, you have to understand that when you need to walk away and take a break if your baby is super fussy – DO IT! Place them in a safe space like a crib, swing, or playpen with no suffocation or choking hazards like blankets, or toys, and walk away for a few moments of quiet and sanity. You have to do this sometimes so that you don’t wear yourself down. You want to certainly avoid a situation that could place your baby in danger of being hurt. Unfortunately, some frustrated parents have regrettably injured their children in these situations, and there’s no turning back from this. I hate to mention it, but it is a reality that Shaken Baby Syndrome has negatively impacted families and you want to be sure to protect your child from preventable injury. If you feel yourself reaching a breaking point, reach out for help by calling on the other parent, a family member, neighbor or friend when you are feeling overwhelmed. And remember, a few moments alone for you to regroup is good for both you and baby. Mommy has to have time for herself too. Getting pampered, visiting a friend, taking a walk, or just going on a shopping trip alone can help to renew your spirit and give you a mommy time out.
As you know, breastfeeding is the best choice for both baby and you. The health, emotional, and financial benefits are countless. So, if you are having challenges breastfeeding seek help from your care providers. Your obstetrician, midwife or a lactation professional can provide you with valuable information and support to keep you on track and help you troubleshoot any breastfeeding issues you may have. As well, be sure to have your care provider request your FREE breast pump from your insurance company. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act (affectionately called Obamacare) you are eligible for a high quality, electric breast pump as a part of your health insurance benefit. Once it arrives, you should test out your breast pump at least one month before returning to work or school. When you unpack your pump, it can be very intimidating. There are several different parts to connect, and there is a learning curve to successfully using it. The good news is that once you hit your sweet spot, you can express your milk within about 10 to 15 minutes on average. Sometimes, you can even pump one breast while nursing your little one on the other breast if you want to be efficient. But please don’t obsess about pumping, and how much milk you produce in the beginning. You’ll eventually get the hang of it. You may get two ounces from one breast and four from the other. That’s normal. Sometimes you may get less than that. That’s normal too. Be sure to stay hydrated by drinking your water, keep taking your prenatal vitamins, and please eat a nutritious, well-balanced organic and non-GMO diet. This can help you stay healthy, and up for the excitement and physical challenges of motherhood.
Another important breastfeeding tip to keep you on track is to be sure not to solely depend on the breast pump to feed your baby. Be sure to put your baby to the breast frequently. The closeness of your baby; skin-to-skin and their suckling will keep your milk supply up. The breast pump can never compare to the natural stimulation that you receive from your baby. If you have to return to work or school be sure to nurse your little one when you are home. Many moms breastfeed in the morning and then in evening when they return home. This is your special time to reconnect after a long day away from one another. If you are having difficulty with breastfeeding, a common issue is sore nipples, which may be prompting you to pump instead of putting the baby to the breast. If this is happening, a simple adjustment of the baby’s latch could resolve the issue. Be sure the baby”s mouth is wide open. By touching your nipple to the baby’s nose, you can force them to open up nice and wide, where then you can pop the nipple and some of the surrounding areola in their mouth. This technique can nip nipple pain in the bud and give you a good latch. If breast or nipple pain is persistent, you may have an underlying health issue like thrush, nipple damage, or swollen milk ducts which is an infection called mastitis. These all require medical attention. Don’t hesitate to give your clinician a call when in doubt.
Lastly, it’s important to think about your future, and the future plans of your family. Do you want more children? Would you like to change careers soon? Advance in your current profession? Become an entrepreneur? A stay-at-home mom? These are things that should certainly be on your radar as a woman and mother, because they can impact the decisions you will make in the coming months and years. It is vital that you are always evaluating your life’s path, and how your family life and structure will be impacted by your decisions. You want to strategize how all aspects of your full rich life can all flow together in harmony.
Creating synergy among these important facets of your life, and your life goals are essential to helping you feel more focused, and confident. As a result, you to be more proactive, and less reactive as things happen in your life. Now of course no one can predict the future. And we don’t know what the Creator has in store for us, but if we stay positive, grateful and do our best to make sound decisions for us and our family, we can improve the odds that we will have positive outcomes and a more balanced life.
It’s wise to spend time discussing your life plan, desires and aspirations with those people you care about, and trust. They may provide you with good advice and loving guidance. And seek out professional mentors for career advice.
When it comes to parenting, surround yourself with smart, seasoned parents who can help you to gain perspective, and give you the support you need and deserve. Remember that you don’t have to go it alone, as it takes a village to raise a child, and raise them well.
Good luck future Magnificent Mommies!
Stay Healthy and Wise,
Ericka L. Abrams, Public Health Practitioner
A special thank you to Angela; a future Magnificent Mommy for inspiring me to write this article.
*This article is for educational purposes only and does not replace the advice or treatment from a licensed medical practitioner.
Edited by Darryl J. Abrams