10 Things All New Moms Need to Know

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Motherhood is crazy.

When we brought Jack home from the hospital, I realized that I was completely in over my head.  As it turned out, all the pregnancy magazines and baby books in the world couldn’t begin to prepare me for the adventure we were embarking on as new parents.

There are some really tough and surprising curve balls that motherhood’s going to throw your way – that I can promise you.  You can read all the books, ask all the questions, babysit all the kids…and you’ll still find yourself falling short every now and then.

Parenting is awesome.  It really is.

But, WOW…it can be really freaking hard, too.

Although the only way to really learn it is to jump in and do it, I’m going to share a few experiences that I learned the hard way…in hopes that new moms out there can be a little bit better prepared for motherhood.

10 Things All New Moms Need to Know (like, HANG IN THERE!)

1. Sleep deprivation ain’t no joke.  Oh, sure…at your baby shower, your friends all laughed and joked about how “tired” you would be after the baby was born, and you’ve heard the advice “Sleep when the baby sleeps!” a million times.  But until you’ve been there…until you’ve been up all.night.long.AGAIN, pouring every last drop of energy you have into a fussy baby who for the love of God and all that is holy WILL NOT SLEEP – it’s really hard to understand.  Prepare yourself by keeping your energy up with healthy snacks, drinking lots of water, and be ready to (you guessed it!) sleep when the baby sleeps.  OH!  And good news…it does get better!

2. Sleep isn’t linear.  I always assumed that baby would be born, maybe take a few days to get settled, and then gradually start sleeping longer stretches at night until, somewhere around eight weeks or so, they’d be sleeping through the night.  HA!  Ha HA HA!!  It doesn’t work like that.  If you have one of those magical babies who sleep through the night, count your lucky stars and sleep when that child is sleeping.  Because you never know when this will change.  Babies sleep patterns can be interrupted by anything, it seems.  Teething, a stuffy nose, a growth spurt, learning a new skill…all of these things mess with your kid’s sleep.

3. Postpartum recovery is…weird.  There are so many things going on with your body, so many hormones getting all crazy up in there, so many places that hurt.  There will be blood, and rock-hard boobs, and spontaneous crying (and I’m not talking about the baby here, ladies).  You’ll feel overwhelmed, scared, and sore.  Don’t worry.  This is all temporary and you will be back to “normal” (a new normal, but still) within a few months.

4. Breastfeeding hurts.  But only for a little while.  It’s totally normal for breastfeeding to hurt the first few weeks.  But after that, it shouldn’t hurt at all (if it’s still hurting after two weeks, see a lactation consultant).  So if you are breastfeeding, hang in there – never quit on your worst day.

5. It’s going to be hard to eat for awhile.  Get used to eating one-handed, because SURPRISE – newborns like to be held, and they aren’t particularly concerned about whether or not you’re hungry.  In the newborn haze, I also found it was easy to forget to eat…and you really need to eat to keep up your energy levels (remember that thing about how they don’t sleep?).  When Jack was a newborn, we would practically beg people to bring us food.  When Claire was born, I was prepared – we stocked the freezer with our favorite meals (made by our mothers, of course).  A freezer full of healthy meals and snacks will save your sanity.

6. There will be a lot of bodily fluids.  Each baby is different.  But mine?  They pooped almost every few hours – for the first several MONTHS of their lives.  That’s a lot of poopy diapers!  And little boys?  They pee on you.  Frequently.  And some babies spit up every time they eat, for no reason whatsoever.  All of these fluids require a lot of diapers (I used cloth diapers, which meant more laundry…but no late-night runs to the store for diapers!), a lot of laundry, and a lot of changing clothes (for baby, and for you…projectile spit-up is craaaazy).  And this doesn’t even take into account your own bodily fluids (leaky boobies and post-partum bleeding, ladies!).

7. Babies get super fussy around 6-7 weeks.  When they are just 6 weeks old or so, they gear up for some intense fussing.  With Jack, that meant inconsolable crying and/or fussing all.day.long for several weeks.  With Claire, it simply meant she’d cry in the evenings for no apparent reason.  This is temporary!  Your sweet baby will return shortly.

8. You’re going to feel like a different person for awhile.  After both of my kids were born, I experienced this weird alter-reality in which I just stopped feeling like myself.  I was another person entirely, a mom…and little else.  I remember heading out to Starbucks by myself when Claire was about 4 weeks old thinking, “Here I am, again!”  Things will get back to normal, and you’ll find yourself again.

9. It’s okay to need a break.  When you’re caring for a little being 24/7, things can get intense!  It’s okay – essential, even – to have some time to yourself.  You will be a better parent for it, I promise.

10. They really do grow up fast.  There will be a time, when you’re so sick and tired of poop and pee and leaky boobs and fussy children, that you find yourself thinking, “Oh, if only she were a few months older…”. And in your heart, you know that they grow up so fast and you should be cherishing these early days…but it’s so hard when all they do is cry and eat.  The thing is…all those grandmas and moms out there who like to tell you how fast these days fly by are telling the truth.  They do grow up quickly.  Claire is 18 months old and those early baby days are just a vague memory.  Just keep this in mind – they grow up so fast! – on those days you feel like will never end.

Hang in there!

What would you add?  When it comes to parenting, what did you learn the hard way?

Be sure to check out my list of resources for breastfeeding moms here.

Like cloth diapers – or thinking about using them? I have lots of cloth diapering info here!

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      • Jamie says

        I think she was referring to how you can go into severe hormonal mood swings when you stop breastfeeding. I have not experienced this yet (my son is 11 weeks old so we are far from done) but I have heard about it. You can become very depressed and sometimes don’t realize what the trigger is. But then when you get your period again everything levels out and you feel like yourself again. I’m sure it’s very different for different people, but that was the account I heard.

        These tips are great and now that I have an 11 week old, I can say they are pretty much true! We’re lucky and he sleeps through the night now, and hopefully that will not change. The lack of sleep never got to me because I have always had horrible sleep patterns, from long before I was pregnant, so I am used to waking up a couple times a night, sometimes never going back to sleep, and still functioning normally the next day. My husband on the other hand… he couldn’t handle it! And he wasn’t doing anything during those late night feedings b/c I am breastfeeding so there was nothing for him to do. But just the fact that his usual solid 8 hours of sleep was interrupted was enough to mess up his whole day lol. Poor guy! Also, I have to say, my son pees on himself (usually in his own face LOL) more than he pees on me. It’s funny every time haha!

        • carrie says

          My husband can’t hang without sleep, either! I’m convinced men and woman are wired differently in that respect…for me, I don’t mind doing nighttime duty but I need help in the mornings, so it worked out that I’d be up at night with the baby and hubby would take over after 6:00 so I could get some sleep.

  1. says

    Great advice! The only thing I would add, well two things, is go easy on yourself. No one expects you to be perfect for you. We all screw up. Daily. And second, learn to go with the flow. It doesn’t matter how well you’ve planned and mapped and dreamed, you just gave birth to an actual PERSON and surprise! They have their own thoughts on how things should be. Yep, even when they are newborns. So cut yourself some slack and enjoy the ride. It is over in a flash.
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    • carrie says

      That is so true! It’s easy to beat yourself up. I remember seeing pictures of a friend out and about with her two-week-old baby and here I was, barely able to function, let alone leave the house. I thought, “what is wrong with me that I can barely find time to get dressed and this mom is wearing makeup and out in PUBLIC?!” The second time around I realized it didn’t really matter so much what other moms were doing, and to just take care of myself and my baby. Also, OMG you are right about newborns having their own opinions. I don’t know why I just assumed all babies were the same…they are *so* their own little people, from birth.

      Those are great points you make.

  2. says

    Excellent post!! I remember that bone numbing tiredness that I just couldn’t have imagined until I was smack in the middle of it!! The thing I would add kind of goes with your point of taking time for yourself – to not be afraid to ask for help. It is so hard to have to ask for help – almost as though you are afraid you are admitting you are failing as a mom. That is SO not true! People want to help, so take it when they offer. And ask when you need it!

    And yes – I remember everyone telling me to enjoy it because the grow so fast. At the time I couldn’t believe it because I was just SO tired. Now, my oldest turns 10 in a few weeks, and my youngest will be 8. And I feel like I can barely remember anything from them being babies already. It just flew by.
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    • carrie says

      “Bone-numbing” is a great way to explain it…I remember telling my husband I was “tired to my bones” more than once.

      And, GREAT ADVICE about taking help when you can get it.

  3. says

    Yep, all those things are true. You will be tired (still am at 6 months), you wont have time for yourself (specially with more than one), and there will be a lot of bodily fluids-no doubt. But you become a great problem solver and you get to raise one (or more) of the most important people in this world, So, when my day starts at 1 AM, I remember how happy I am to have them, then my heart is filled. It makes the sleep deprivation worth it!
    Lisa Nelson (@Squishablebaby) recently posted…Happiness is___________(Week 6)My Profile

    • carrie says

      Definitely worth it. And that’s a great attitude…they are, indeed, the most important people in the world and we are lucky to have them. Sometimes that’s hard to remember at 4 AM (for me, anyway), but it’s the truth.

    • carrie says

      The light at the end of the tunnel…that’s what helped keep things easier with my second, for sure. It DOES get easier!

    • carrie says

      YES! The first 4-6 weeks are tough. For me, it was the first 8 weeks and then one day magically everything changed and it was super easy. My daughter nursed like a champ from day one, though…so I guess we all have different experiences with each baby!

  4. says

    I actually was one of the lucky ones. I didn’t breastfeed do to meds I was on, so DH and I teemed up, so he took the late night shift and I took the early morning shift. Then, and don’t hate me here, Nick would sleep from 11 until 5 by 5 weeks. Yep, I was lucky. That being said my healing was not easy. Also, we didn’t have too much bodily fluid problems (the few times pee came out it always seemed to hit the wall), but I got spit up on A LOT!

    • carrie says

      Agreed. I never expected there to be pain involved…I think they told me the first couple of weeks might hurt at the hospital “birthing” class I took, but that was it…I was not at all prepared for the pain of a bad latch!

  5. Kate says

    I would have to add that breast feeding can hurt for a lot longer than a couple weeks. I saw an LC multiple times too, and it wasn’t anything either of us were doing wrong, but I was VERY sore for at least a month, and uncomfortable for about 4 months…but we made it thru and nursed for a year! I’ve talked to several people since that had a similar experience and I wish I would have known beforehand how hard it CAN be- just to be prepared and not be constantly thinking it was something I was doing wrong!

    • carrie says

      Way to go on nursing for a year!! I agree…it can last way longer than it “should” – I had similar issues with my first. I wish there was an easy way to be honest and not scare people off at the same time! But that’s a great point, it doesn’t mean you’re doing anything wrong or failing somehow because it hurts…I wish everyone could have an LC in their back pocket.

  6. says

    Thank you for this post!! I’m due in August with our first and I’m scared to death! I get really cranky when I am tired, so I’m afraid I’ll turn into some sort of sleep deprived monster! My poor Hubs!
    Laura A recently posted…The Positive TestMy Profile

    • carrie says

      Oooooh, congratulations! Don’t be scared, you will be fine! The sleep thing is tough, though…at all costs, you must get some sleep whenever you can. Seriously…let your hubby take the baby while you nap whenever you can. I really think getting lots (or as much as you can, anyway) of rest helps speed the recovery process up, too.

  7. Amie says

    Someone else may have mentioned it, so sorry if this is repeat advice. I remember that breastfeeding made me extremely thirsty. It’s always good to have something to drink nearby when nursing the baby.

    • carrie says

      Ahhh, that’s a good one! I forgot about that. I always had a bottle of water next to me when I was nursing in the beginning.

    • carrie says

      Thank you Heather!

      Yeah…boobs will hurt! And I guess that’s the case even if you don’t breastfeed because you’ll still have to experience the engorgement before the milk dries up. :-/

  8. Alison says

    This is a wonderful post! No one ever told me that there was going to be 6 weeks of postpartum bleeding! I also foolishly thought that since I was going to have a c-section, I wouldn’t experience contractions. I started having contractions and went into labor at 32 weeks with my twins. The hospital was able to suspend labor and the boys were born at 34 weeks.
    One of the things I find most challenging is being a working mom. It’s hard to leave my kids every day, but I wasn’t meant to be a SAH mom even if we were rich, so it’s not the work. Sometime my kids are cranky and challenging and we’re all tired and I spend what little time I have with them angry, frustrated and/or aggravated. It’s not how I want to spend precious time with my 1 year old sons, so a lot of time I have to give myself a time out. And that’s okay.

    • carrie says

      Yeah, the bleeding totally threw me for a loop, too…crazy!

      I’ve been a working mom, a part-time-working-mostly-from-home mom, a full-time SAHM – and none of it is easy, that’s for sure. I totally get how you feel about being frustrated/angry while the kids are cranky – it’s a recipe for disaster. You’ve *got* to take care of yourself first!

      Also, WOW…twins at 34 weeks! I imagine that brings an entirely different set of concerns to the table. It’s hard enough as it is with one full-term baby…you’re a Super Mom! :)

      • Alison says

        Awww! Thanks, but it takes a village to keep my sanity, I do not do this alone! I have an amazing husband who is the best daddy ever and wonderful parents and in laws!!

        • carrie says

          It does take a village – with my first I thought I wanted to do it all alone (which was not a good choice), but when the second was born I was practically begging people to help!

  9. Bree says

    Great post! Lots of good advice. One other thing that I’ve learned from my first experience of being a new mom is to not let your baby get used to you holding him while he sleeps. We’re trying to break this habit now and have been for a couple of months. It’s hard because I love cuddling with him but it has made crib training a terrible experience. It’s hard to hear him crying himself to sleep. I will definitely be putting my second baby in the crib right away for naps and bed time. Hopefully he’ll start to be ok with not sleeping on Momma soon. This part sucks,

    • carrie says

      That part does suck…I was TOTALLY not prepared for that when my son was born. I tried to make sure my daughter spent more time in her co-sleeper/crib, but in the end…I sucked at putting them down, lol. The good news is that at some point, this will definitely pass – it’s just so hard when you’re going through it!

  10. says

    Spot on! These are the things that no one tells you, but you end up learning VERY quickly! Also I would add what worked for everyone else MAY not work for your baby… and baby #1 is not necessarily an indication of what baby #2 (or 3, or 4) will be like. Solid tips.
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    • says

      Ohmygoodness, that is SO TRUE. My kids were polar opposites as babies! I was prepared for the worst with baby #2, but she ended up being so much easier than the first!

  11. says

    Great list! I wish I would have known even half this stuff when I started popping out babies!! I never took breaks with my first, now I try to more often….and it is life saving…or mind saving I should say. Hopping over here from the Pin it party…I pinned this for you. :) I have a parenting blog hop on Mondays. I would love if you joined in some time.
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    • says

      The internet was definitely a parenting “tool” I leaned on in those early months…I loved just being able to know that I was not alone in my exhaustion and concerns! Parenting is amazing, though…sometimes it’s hard to see through the fatigue and self-doubt, but it really is incredible.

  12. says

    (Hi! Stopping by from Beauty in the mess’s babies & beyond link up)

    As the mother of an 8 month old, these are SO TRUE. My little bundle of joy was sleeping 11 hours straight by 3 months. Then he decided that was about enough of that. Two nights ago he was up every 1.5 – 2 hours! But he’s so cute, its worth it!
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  13. says

    This post is sooo true! I am getting ready to have my 4th child, and I think after each one you forget what those beginning weeks are like. But, they are worth it, and so are the memories. Sleep deprivation is something that I don’t look forward to, but the beautiful coos that will come from my baby will make it all worthwhile. Thanks for sharting the post.

  14. aprila says

    such a great post and so true. Thanks for linking up at Tell Me About It Tuesday. We hope you hop over and share with us again next week.

  15. says

    This is such a great post and reminder even for those who don’t have babies anymore. I had actually already forgotten about enduring those long nights that were also very bonding moments for Zeva and me. She is only 2 so it wasn’t so long ago.
    Remember each kid is different. Also, that we all feel like we are a failure as a parent from time to time, but we were the ones God entrusted with the little ones we have.
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  16. says

    This is such a great post. It can be hard to explain what goes on after you have a baby but you wrote it perfectly! My first night home, I remember thinking that I couldn’t believe they trusted me to send me home with this baby – I felt clueless! One of the things that surprised me the most was the emotions I had for my baby. The intensity of love the moment I met her is indescribable.
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  17. says

    Hi Carrie – what a great post and I’m sure it will be such a help to new moms! Having raised two children to young adults, I can totally attest to the absolute fact that they grow up so fast it almost makes your head spin! There are so many stages of raising children and so many emotions along the way! Thanks so much for joining us and sharing at Best of the Weekend – pinned! Hope you are having a happy Saturday and enjoy your weekend!
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    • says

      I completely, absolutely, 100 million% agree with you. I’ve been to baby showers where they ask everyone to write down their favorite parenting advice for new moms, and both times it was this: Parent from the heart.

      Your instincts are right!! I wish we could all wrap our heads around that.

  18. says

    Good morning! Your post is among this week’s featured, will be shared across social media, and pinned to pinterest. Thanks for linking up at A Mama’s Story, and help yourself to a featured button. :)

  19. says

    You are so right, reading all the books, watching all the programs will not, does not prepare for motherhood. I have three, and all were different, one wanted to be held 24/7, one didn’t like to be held at all, and the third could care less either way. Mine our grown now 22, 17 and 15, yes they do grow fast, but I have enjoyed/enjoy every aspect of their lives, and motherhood, it’s a true blessing. Thanks so much for sharing on Tuesdays With A Twist.
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    • says

      You’re right – they are SOOO different! My son was super high-maintenance, and I assumed my daughter would be the same. Turned out, she was a laid-back baby who could entertain herself. I never expected them to be such little individuals at such young ages, but they had different temperaments from birth.

  20. says

    My second will be here any day now and I’ve been gearing up and trying to prepare in all the ways I didn’t know to do with my first. I know I will not sleep, and be leaky, and weepy, and overwhelmed. Not sure how I will handle 2 but what I learned with my first is I can’t be so hard on myself. No Mom is perfect, I need to do my best, ask for help, and love my girls. It won’t be perfect but at least I won’t be sobbing over feeding her the wrong way or something crazy like that. Thanks for sharing this!
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  21. says

    I as a mom of three I would say that this is a great list to be reminded of even after subsequent children. Every child and every pregnancy (even with the same person) that sometimes I feel like there is a sort of amnesia about what is possible within a range of normal. So that said I say breathe, relax, and allow yourself some grace.
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  22. says

    These are really true,I am a first time mom with a 4 months old baby now.I experienced all these and agree with no.8,I couldn’t adjust to the new life suddenly.The first month was all messy around me,ah and they grow fast.Cant believe my baby is already 4 months now and I am more organized than before…. :)
    Found this post from Friday Flash Blog linky….
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  23. Heidi says

    I agree, but would add, everything is going to take waaaaaaaaaay longer than it did before – schedule accordingly. And keeping your baby alive, fed, clothed, and diapered, are more important than having a super clean house, no matter what anyone thinks.

    • says

      Oh man, you’re not kidding!! The first time I tried to join my hubby for lunch – with the baby – we ended up being two hours late! Between all the nursing, and spitting up, and pooping, and nursing again, and spitting up again…it took FOREVVVVVVER to get out of the house.

  24. Diana says

    so spot on for all 10!!! I am sleep deprived, i forget to eat, i got peed on by my little 3 week old boy, poopy diapers, fussy nights, my weird body and emotions, begging people who visit to bring food with them… Everything! Gah! When will it get better??

    • says

      I promise it does get better!! I remmeber feeling a shift (for the better) when my son was three months old. And then another when he was six months old. From there, we just had a new “normal” and things kind of fell into place eventuually. It’s still not easy, but it has never been as intense as those early weeks! Hand in there!

  25. Krista says

    I love these. I was so shocked by the pain and recovery. One thing I would add is to have a plan for feeding and sleeping for that new babe! It might only work 1 nap a day, or 1 day a week, but soon enough, if you try to stick with it, the consistency will work. We used Baby Wise by Gary Ezzo and I tell you, it saved our lives. Baby #1 was sleeping 8 hrs at 12 wks and baby #2 was sleeping 8 hrs at 8 wks! I’m pregnant with #3 and the thought of starting over is mildly horrifying!

  26. Haley says

    I remember when my daughter was about 3 months old, this night came when she did not.go.to.sleep. It was about 3 am, hubby and I had been rotating who was up with her. He had to be at work at 7, and I had to be at school by 8 (with her in tow, mind you). We had tried everything known to man to get her to sleep, but nothing was working. I finally got to the point where I had put her in the carseat, and I was going to drive around the block until she fell asleep. I went to go tell my husband I was leaving, and lo and behold, by the time I got back to the living room she was passed out. Absolutely sound asleep. I am pretty sure I cried, I was so happy.

    My point is, in those first few months, just when you think you can’t do this anymore, those little tender mercies keep you going. I got just enough sleep to function the next morning, and (no surprise) she slept through all my morning classes. God has special angels watching over new mommies and daddies, of that I am sure.

    • says

      YES. I remember those little mercies, too. I was exhausted for the first few months of my son’s life. Arund 6-7 weeks, it was SO HARD. And that’s right when he started smiling, and I thought, “There’s a reason they start smiling at this age!” Those baby smiles put the wind in my sails and was all that kept me going on some days!

  27. says

    I have nothing to add, I agree with them all! Especially sleep when you can! Both of mine had colic, they would not sleep, I would hold them in a chair all night, which amounted to about 3 hours in a stretch. So sleep!!! Thankfully our brains forget how painful it is, how bad it is…if not everyone would be an only child!
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  28. says

    I’m not a mom yet, but this was a great article! The husband and I are thinking about trying for kids in a year or so, so it’s good to be prepared as I can (though I hear you’re never really prepared haha)!
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