When you’re pregnant, all you can think about is getting through the big day: birth, and meeting your little love. Once you’ve survived that experience, and gotten over the initial shock and joy of finally holding your baby in your arms, a new feeling starts to sink in… I don’t know WTF I’m doing (don’t worry, no one does).
To answer the next questions you’ll definitely ask yourself: yes, they will just let you leave the hospital with your tiny human, and no, your midwife will not move in with you for the next three months while you sort your new life out.
Not to fear! We promise, even if it doesn’t feel like it right now, you’ve totally got this.
But in case you find yourself in the fog of early motherhood, feeling sleep-deprived, overwhelmed, and in need of some reassurance, we asked some seasoned mums for the one piece of advice they’d give to a new mum (i.e. you). Get a pen and paper ready:
It will fill you with more love than you know, but the exhaustion will make you question every aspect of your whole being. Be kind to yourself and trust the process – Claire
Your hormones will do stupid things. Ask for help when you need it and be honest. You’re not alone. – Sarah
Just do anything at all to keep yourself rested and sane. Leave the house a mess. Don’t worry about what people think. Cherish this time – as hard as it is. Listen to all advice but only practice what your instincts tell you. – Nicky
Use Depends adult nappies so you can just rip them off. Don’t try to get baby into any routines in the first 3 months, they’re too little for those kinds of expectations. – Kellie
Don’t expect too much of yourself. You’ll have good days and bad days physically and emotionally. Try to just go with the flow and follow your baby’s lead – Anne
Accept help (pre-cooked meals, cleaning, etc) but don’t feel it obliges you to listen to the advice that often accompanies help. Keep your own council. – Zoe
I’m still in the thick of it but don’t doubt yourself during intense cluster feeding. You will and do have enough milk, your baby is communicating with your body. It is mentally and physically grueling. – Caitlin
You don’t need to be superwoman. The newborn stage is so fleeting, just focus on you and bub. Let them sleep on you and take all the photos. – Becky
Be prepared for many weeks of recovery. Look after yourself. Know that you may be sad and cry at times and that’s ok – Sherry
Don’t be afraid to ask for support or to tell visitors to leave. Find your voice. You’re not a failure if you can’t do things the way someone else could. Sleeping is a challenge. Breastfeeding is a challenge. It’s all worth it though. – Melanie
No one will know your baby like you do. Try not to doubt yourself when you need to make a decision for/about your baby, and remember you’re learning (even if it’s not your first, because all babies are different) so don’t be so hard on yourself. – Rose
Talk about your emotions, write down your needs, and share them with your support team at home. – Anita
Get as much help as you can. Order a delivery meal service/rely on friends and family to cook you meals/clean house/do laundry. Focus on you and sleep and the baby. – Teresa
Go online to the postnatal depression questionnaire every so often to self-check where you are. Postnatal depression is sneaky and can creep in at any stage. – Lily
Be easy on yourself. You’re doing great! Accept help and rest as much as possible. – Peta
For c-sections mamas, don’t push yourself to jump up and run around at record time! You’ve just had major surgery. Give yourself some time to recover and don’t feel guilty about needing rest. Your partner or a grandparent will chip in to look after the newborn. Recover at your own pace because there are no medals for the mama who bounces back the fastest. – Ida
Organise your village in advance. Who can do what and when. – Jennifer
Be kind to yourself, your body is now a completely new thing, take time to learn it all over again. – Carly
Let people help you. If you’re alone hire a person to help you with baby twice a week. – Liv
Give yourself time and space. That means saying no to visitors if that’s what you need. – Dani
Breastfeeding is not supposed to hurt, get help. Get a lactation consultant to assist you. Make sure that latch is correct right off the bat – or you will end up with bleeding cracked nipples which can be prone to infection, thrush, and mastitis. Not fun! – Katie
Just sleep whenever you have a chance, and keep snacks handy for all times of the day/night. – Elissa
Be gentle on yourself and ask for help without feeling guilty. – Liz
Don’t be afraid to ask your partner to hold the baby and take an extra 5 minutes in the shower or go for a walk on your own and listen to a podcast. It’s ok to put your screaming baby down in a safe place (like the bassinet) and go outside to take a breath. If you aren’t coping, you won’t be able to help your baby. – Emma
Get as many people to come and care for the baby for a few hours or so at a time so you can sleep. Preferably far enough away so you can’t hear anything. – Nikki
Phew! That was a lot to write down. Now, besides having a mini panic attack about how many adult diapers you might need, did you pick up the recurring themes?… Let’s recap:
Ask for allll the help, rest whenever you can, and above all else BE KIND TO YOURSELF. We cannot stress enough that what you have just done is incredible – you birthed a human being! On top of that, the early postpartum period is a minefield of hormone fluctuations and a steep learning curve as you get to know your baby, and settle into your new identity.
Got some advice for a new mama? Let us know in the comments.