The joy. The pain. The love.
Get the inside scoop on what it’s like to be a new mom.
You see the pink line and your heart jumps inside. “I’m pregnant!” No matter how you hear the news, with the declaration of pregnancy comes a flutter of emotions. Excitement. Joy. Fear. Shock. And the questions, oh the questions! Today we’re going to answer some of the questions you may be asking: tips for how to have a healthy pregnancy, prepare for birth, what it’s like to be a new mom, and how to recover well.
Because I don’t have kids of my own yet I had the wonderful privilege of interviewing my sister-in-law Darlene who is a first time mom and is doing an awesome job of it. She is such a sweet woman, faithful wife, and caring friend. She loves the Lord and is always doing her best to work diligently, to love her little one, and is just having a blast being a mom. I just know she has some great insights to share with you! So if you’re pregnant for the first time and wondering what it’s like to be a new mom, keep reading. We’re going to answer some of your questions on what it’s like to be a new mom.
At the time of the interview Darlene’s baby Ashlyn is 13 1/2 months old, and she’s expecting again!
What was it like when your baby was first born? Were you busy? Tired? Stressed? Emotional? (First 4-6 weeks after birth)
For Darlene, she said “It was easier than expected. I’m the type of person who will stress ahead of time and when it’s actually happening then it’s not as bad as I thought it’d be.” As far as busyness goes, Darlene didn’t have any big committments on her plate. She gave herself time and space to relax, recover, and enjoy her new baby! “I had all day to hold my baby. What’s hard about that?”
One thing Darlene said that really helped her have an easier adjustment after birth was that she had a fairly easy labour. “See, if you give birth, that alone is very straining emotionally. It’s so many adjustments. But on top of that if you have a hard labour, that can really bring you down.”
However, no matter how well you labour, birth will take something out of you, physically, emotionally, mentally, and even spiritually. Don’t let this discourage you! There’s a lot you can do the help your recovery and adjustment right after giving birth.
Darlene says, “It’s true, when you’re so weak, like in the first six weeks, you need to take care of yourself. Let daddy take over, as much as he is willing. That is very important. Use your community. Use your support and welcome it.” Let people come over and help. Besides, I’m sure you have family and friends who would be just waiting see you and to faun over your new baby!
A few other things on what it’s like to be a new mom:
- Shopping will be way different! Darlene says, “Shopping trips were twice as hard. You wonder when you’re quickly running in to pick up the mail, ‘Do I leave baby in the car, or do I take baby with?”
- Random emotional struggles. After birth Darlene says, “There’s definitely emotions I had that I didn’t realize I ever struggled with. Anger was one thing. I had no reason to be angry! Like, you don’t want to be angry with your baby, my goodness, it’s an innocent little baby!”
- Easyily tired. You’ve probably heard this before and it’s still worth saying again! “Take naps, even after your baby is a year old. That way you can be there for your husband.” Resting is not a waste. It’s truly the most effective way for you to get strong and actually be there for your family.
How did you prepare for your baby? What would you do next time to be more prepared?
Preparing for a baby is extremely important, especially to make your postpartum adjustment smooth! Specifically for preparing for birth there are two main things you should focus on. 1. Nutrition, 2. Exercise.
“Take care of your nutrition side before the baby comes and it should prevent a lot of depression or lowness after.” says Darlene, “I don’t know how I would have been if I had a 24 hour intense labour —I only had a 4 hour labour and only a half hour of that was unbearable — things could have been different, but I know what I did: in my third trimester I drank a lot of pregnancy tea. Two quarts a day!”
“Pregnancy tea” is an herbal tea of raspberry leaves, alfalfa, and stinging nettle. Each plant targets a part of the body that you need for labour. “I was preparing for the easiest labour I knew how to prepare for and I’ve often wondered if that made me stronger after birth too.” Another thing Darlene used was “Gentle Birth Formula” (check that out here) an herbal medicine used in the last 5 weeks of pregnancy. On top of that, making meals ahead and having food in the freezer will really help keep stress low while recovering.
When looking back Darlene says, “Stressing about it (having a baby) isn’t worth it!” So as she’s preparing for her next baby she says, “I stressed so much last time, but this time I’m not even stressing about it much. I’m very happy go lucky about it now, but I’m definitely getting the preg tea. I will not face labour without that! The other thing is exercise. Exercise is a big thing too to get ready for the baby.”
How was breastfeeding?
“Breastfeeding, that’s probably one of the biggest hurdles a new mom has.” says Darlene, “But for me I was so blessed, Ashlyn lastched on instantly, so I never had a struggle with that. One thing I highly recommend is to definitely let the nurse help you.” When everything is so new and neither you nor your baby know the “teqhnique” of breastfeeding, the nurse is there to help you and your baby connect as soon as possible.
Darlene started breastfeeding well, but after three months her milk supply dried up after a very busy, very stressful couple of days. “My milk supply was suddenly gone. Stress takes your milk level away, so within a week she was completely on formula.” But looking ahead Darlene has a plan. “I definitely want to see if I can breast feed my next baby longer and I’m hoping next time I can drink more alfalfa. I know that helps with milk production.”
If you want to breastfeed successfully then watch your stress. There’s nothing wrong with saying no to committemtns after giving birth. And the other thing you can do to help with milk supply is to get a special massage to open your milk ducts. Darlene went to one such lady after her milk supply stopped and found that her milk ducts were blocked up. Next time around she wants to make sure they’re open. “Get the massage just a few weeks before the baby comes, that way your milk flow can come when it needs to come.”
What do you say the mom who’s not sure about breastfeeding?
“It is worth the fight.” Darlene said emphatically. “There’s just nothing like physical touch, but then the nutritional value from your milk is also beyond anything you can get from formula. Especially for the first few months.” then she laughed and said, “But I don’t know if I’d have the patience to go for an entire year!”
“For me that was… I can’t… it was the most surreal feeling I had, the first time Ashlyn sucked. I can’t explain it. I don’t know how else you could bond better with your baby than breastfeeding. So if for no other reason, do it to bond with your baby.”
To recap, four things Darlene recommends for prepare for birth are:
- 2 quarts of pregnancy tea a day in third trimester**
- Gentle Birth Formula (find it here) last 5 weeks
- Very gentle exercises
- Massage milk ducts to open blockages
- 2 quarts of pregnancy tea a day in third trimester.
**A simple recipe for preg tea is:
- Combine 2 oz raspberry leaf, 2 oz nettle, 1 oz alfalfa into an even mix and store in a jar out of the sun.
- Boil about a quart of water and add a heaping 1/4 cup if the preg tea mix
- Turn off the oven, cover the pot, and let it steep overnight.
- Strain out the herbs and enjoy! For more on the pregnancy tea recipe go here.
I know there are challenges and fears that you’re facing right now wondering what it’s like to be a new mom. Don’t be overwhelmed. Now you’ve gotten a taste of what it can be like, and simply knowing that is a huge help. You’re going to be an amazing mom and I know you’re going to love and nurture that little baby with all your heart, so Darlene’s final tips for you are this:
- Be positive
- Work on your relationship with God
- Be scheduled
With a new baby life can feel out of control, that’s why it’s even more important to intentionally make the most out of it. You’ll have more fun as a new mom that way! Make time with God a priority, and when you’re feeling down, cast your cares upon Him, because He cares for you. Be positive and thank God for the gift you’ve received! All this will make your adjustment that much easier and faster, so you can have a blast being a new mom.
In part 2 of the interview with Darlene on what it’s like to be a new mom we’ll talk specifically about how a new baby can effect your marriage and how to keep the spark in that relationship.
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