Marissa is the writer of ThePracticalMommy and the blog Mommy Knows What's Best. She is a stay-at-home mom to four and was a teacher.
Tips for New Mothers
Advice for New Mothers
Becoming a new mom is a unique experience for a woman. Not only does she give up nine months of her life carrying her baby, she also dedicates the rest of her life caring for and loving her child. While doing this, she strives to be a good mom, one who is successful in every parenting endeavor she encounters.
Being a good mom is not a race, nor is it a competition. It takes time, energy, and love. Learn about ten great goals and objectives to set for yourself when you're a new mom and how to accomplish your goals.
Why is My Baby Crying?
Are You Nervous?
Trust Your Instincts
One of the hardest things about being a new mom is always wondering if you're doing everything right. You begin to second guess yourself when things with the baby don't go smoothly, and you question your decision to have a baby.
1. Learn to Trust Your Instincts
Believe it or not, you have motherly instincts ingrained in your being. From the time you became pregnant, these instincts were at work making sure you did everything necessary to have a healthy pregnancy and to protect your growing baby.
It doesn't change once the baby is born. When your baby arrives, you may find that your urges to protect and support your newborn soar. You become more aware of your surroundings, all of the newborn baby movements, all of the newborn sounds, and all of the newborn responses. You'll want to feed the baby, keep the baby clean, dress the baby warmly, cuddle the baby, and console the baby when he or she cries.
As the days go by, you'll know everything there is to know about your baby: what the cries mean, when it's time to eat, how long he or she sleeps, or when he or she just wants to be held. These are your motherly instincts, ones that you will learn from experience. Because of this new knowledge, you'll know what to do in most situations throughout your baby's life.
You're going to receive a ton of advice from well-wishers, from family and friends, from books, and from online forums. Does that mean you need to follow all of it or even some of it? No; if something doesn't seem to apply to your baby who you know so well, you can conveniently forget it.
These instincts that you'll sharpen while spending time with your baby can be very handy, especially when your baby isn't feeling well or may have an illness. For instance, you may hear from a doctor that your baby is okay despite having a fever, but you in your heart and mind know that there may be something more to the fever since the baby just hasn't been acting right. Trust your instincts and ask for more to be done.
When the time comes for your baby to be born, trust your instincts. Experience will teach you what you need to know about your baby, and you'll find that you know more about caring for a baby than you think you did.
Parents Helping Parents
Your Parents and Other Experienced Parents
Your parents could be your most valuable help, or they could be your worst fear. When you have your baby, it could be nice to have Mom and Dad help out for a bit, but don't be afraid to remind them about how you want them to care for your baby. For example, it was old-school belief to allow a baby to sleep on his or her stomach, which we now know is not good for a newborn. If you notice Mom or Dad doing something like this, gently remind them of how it should be done.
Despite the differences in child care, your parents may still have some invaluable advice when it comes to taking care of a baby. Watch how they hold your baby or interact with your baby. There could be some tricks they have to help calm a crying baby or soothe a baby with a gassy tummy. You never know!
Another thing to consider is establishing boundaries of your parents' stay in your home. If they are from out of town, you may want to discuss with them the length of their stay. Too long of a stay could be more of a burden on you and your new role as a mom.
On the other hand, hearing advice from other experienced parents could be a help to you. Don't be afraid to ask some of your friends who are parents about their experiences with newborns. Some of the best advice about baby gear and supplies may be from these friends, so listen carefully!
Ask for Help
The baby is awake all night, and you get no sleep. To make up for it, you sleep during the day when you could be doing laundry or the dishes or cleaning the bathroom. You feel so overwhelmed taking care of the baby and completing everyday tasks, plus you're just plain old exhausted.
2. Learn to Ask for Help
It is okay to ask for help. You do not need to prove to anyone that you are superwoman and can do it all. You're only human, and now with taking care of another little demanding human, you feel utterly exhausted and ready to snap.
Family and friends love to help new moms. For one, they love you and want to see you recuperate to your old self in good time. For another, they love being around new babies any chance they get. They won't feel as if you're being selfish if you were to ask them for help.
Here are some ways friends and family can help:
- Let you get some sleep or take a shower as they watch the baby.
- Make some meals for you to keep in the fridge or freeze.
- Clean up around the house (helpful for those who can't do much after a c-section).
- Run some errands.
Of course, there may be some who want to help too much. Guess what; you can ask them to give you some time to spend just with your baby so you can bond with him or her. That could be a big help to your sanity in some cases!
Just remember: it is definitely okay to ask for help once the baby arrives. Don't feel guilty about needing others to assist you in the first few weeks of your child's life.
Get Enough Sleep
I have two kids and a third on the way. Trust me when I say that I have kissed sleep goodbye! By sleep I mean the full night's rest you may have been used to before getting pregnant and having a baby. Sleep is so important though for survival, especially with a newborn!
3. Get Enough Sleep
As a new mom, you'll find that a good sound sleep eludes you on a nightly basis. The goal as a mom isn't to get a full night's rest, like the one you were used to. It is to get enough sleep to get you through the day and night.
How do you do that? One of the best pieces of advice you'll here from other moms is to sleep when the baby sleeps. A newborn can sleep up to 16 hours a day, so there are plenty of opportunities, especially during the daylight hours!
Even if you get to rest with your eyes closed for 15-20 minutes, you'll feel much better. Let the laundry, the dishes, and other chores go; you won't be able to do them well plus take care of a newborn if you're exhausted!
Here's another tip: when the baby sleeps, put down the electronics. It can be so tempting to catch up with what's going on via all of the social apps or websites, but once again, it's more important that you get some sleep.
If you just can't seem to rest when the baby sleeps, ask your spouse, partner, family member, or friend to care for the baby so you can get some rest. Remember: they all want to help, so give them the chance!
Baby Feeding Schedule
Find a Rhythm
When your baby comes, it may seem as if all chaos has taken over your world. Between the birth itself and then all of the feedings and changing of diapers, and more feedings and changing of diapers, you may find yourself overwhelmed.
4. Find a Rhythm
It's okay to let chaos exist for a few days. You're tired, and it'll take a few days to learn more about your new little bundle of joy. After about a week, though, you may find that there's a pattern to your new role as a parent.
Begin making notes about when the baby sleeps, when the baby eats, and when you change the diapers. Use a journal or small notebook to write things down. You'll find that naps may occur every two hours or so. Feedings may occur right after the naps. Diapers can be changed after naps or after feedings.
Knowing when these events occur can help you plan out the rest of your day and any appointments or visits you'd like to have. It'll help you feel a little more in control of all of the new parental responsibilities. Plus, after writing everything down after a few weeks, you'll be able to tell when your baby makes a change in feeding habits or sleeping habits, which occur every few weeks.
After two months, you may find that you no longer need to write things down. You'll know the rhythm internally and it'll be part of your daily routine.
Are You Ready?
Emergency Supply Kits
- Emergency Supplies for Infants, Babies, or Young Children
Be prepared with necessary supplies for your baby or young children as well in the event of an emergency or disaster.
Be Prepared for Anything
Motherhood will be a totally new experience for you, especially if you have not spent ample amount of time around other babies or kids.
5. Be Prepared for Anything
When I say 'anything', I mean anything! You may have spent some of your pregnancy days reading the latest books or magazines or online articles about caring for a newborn, but once your baby comes, you'll find out that not one newborn is like another. Just like every pregnancy is different, every newborn is different!
Try to think of all of the possible events that may occur in one day: feedings, diaper changes, outfit changes, sleep/ nap times, adult meal times, laundry, dishes, visits, doctor's appointments, etc. Once you have that list, make sure you have all of the supplies to complete the list: diapers, wipes, clean clothes, laundry detergent, food in the fridge, formula and water (if needed), stocked diaper bag, etc.
Now, let's add in some more possibilities: diaper explosions, extra clothing changes, excess spit-ups, bowel movements in the bathtub, sleepless nights, gassy bellies, unexpected visits from family or friends, power outages, fevers, rashes, etc. Are you prepared for those things as well?
Here are some things to keep ready at hand:
- Always keep extra diapers, wipes, and clothes nearby when changing diapers.
- Keep extras of the same in your diaper bag and in your car.
- Cover yourself with a burp cloth or small towel when burping the baby.
- Have all necessary bath items handy and nearby during bath time.
- Keep a stocked supply of rash cream, acetaminophen, sterilized water, etc.
- Prepare and update an emergency baby kit for storms, power outages, etc.
Anything can happen. If you're prepared when something unexpected happens, you'll be less frazzled and stressed out, which is good for you and the baby.
Learn to Laugh
Since anything can happen, it's important to have a sense of humor. Laughter can be the best medicine!
6. Learn to Laugh
Sometimes, there are things that are just out of our control. What can you possibly do when you just put the baby in a new outfit, he or she smiles a great big smile, you melt inside, and then he or she poops all over the place? You just have to laugh! Crazy, right?
Not so much. Laughter helps to relieve stress, and trust me, you'll be facing some stressful times, especially when you're sleep deprived.
Here's my favorite example: When my firstborn was a newborn, he barely let me sleep. I was so sleep deprived, so tired. One night at midnight, he awakened me for the third time that night. I stumbled into his room to feed and change him. As I was changing his diaper, he decided it was the best moment to practice with his (pardon me) poop cannon. His tiny little tushy shot some baby poop out clear across the room from his changing table. I just lost it; I laughed so hard I was crying. My husband came in to see what was going on to find me hysterical as I tried to clean the baby and the mess he had made.
Laughing at that moment was such a stress reliever for me! I still get the giggles when I think about that night.
Learn to laugh at everything. You'll feel so much better when you find some humor in any crazy situation. It's a good skill to have, especially when that cute little newborn turns into a tumbling toddler and eventually into a teenager (yikes!).
Exercise After C-Section
Get Back into Shape
Pregnancy is often a time when women neglect exercise routines, either out of sheer stubbornness or exhaustion. Even walking around was a chore, especially when the baby belly got heavy! The shape your body was in once disappears, revealing a newer, rounder shape designed for motherhood.
7. Get Back into Shape
This is one of those goals towards the end of the list, and for good reason. It may take a few weeks (or admit it, months) before you can or even want to move around as you once did. Pregnancy can take a toll on your body, and it certainly can knock you off your exercise routine quite easily.
Getting back into shape can simply be reconditioning your body so that you no longer huff and puff when climbing the stairs. While you may never see your body shape again (hello new curves!), you can definitely work your way back to feeling like your old self again.
The best way to get back into shape is to get up and move. Getting up and moving helps to get the blood and oxygen circulating through your body, making you feel better and energized. Walking around the house or around the block a few times with the baby is a great way to add movement into your routine.
If after a few weeks when you've healed from giving birth or from your c-section you feel up to starting an exercise routine again, go for it! You'll probably need to start slow and work your way back into a more difficult routine, but it can be done.
Eat a Healthy Diet
Admit it: you gave into your pregnancy cravings far too often than you'd ever imagine. All of those chocolate bars and pizza slices and cheeseburgers and milkshakes and sundaes...
8. Eat a Healthy Diet
No more excuses! Time once again to eat a healthy, balanced diet. Eating a healthy, balanced diet will help you with several things:
- getting back into shape
- feeling refreshed and energized
- losing pregnancy weight
- being a good example for the new baby
You'd like to get some help with those things, wouldn't you? Start by introducing more green leafy vegetables, good sources of fiber, good sources of Vitamin C, and good sources of protein.
For help planning your meals, visit Choose My Plate, a site designed to help you establish healthy eating habits by introducing balanced amounts of fruits, grains, vegetables, proteins, and dairy into your every day meals.
Don't forget about proper hydration! Try to drink at least 6-8 eight ounce glasses of water a day. Being properly hydrated can help with fatigue, constipation, and getting back into shape.
Losing Baby Weight
Lose Baby Weight
Lose Pregnancy Weight
One of the sad realities of becoming a new mom is feeling the pressure to lose the pregnancy weight right after having a baby. With celebrity moms in the news showing off their magically thin post-baby bodies, it can be hard not to feel terrible about the weight you gained during pregnancy. While it is important to lose the pregnancy weight, it should be noted that losing pregnancy weight should be a long-term goal, not one to achieve within a week of giving birth.
9. Lose the Pregnancy Weight
As the saying goes, it took nine months to gain the pregnancy weight, and it can take just as long or longer to lose it. While this may not be fast enough for some women, it's a healthy way to think about losing the pregnancy weight. Trying to quickly lose all of the weight you gained during pregnancy can become an unhealthy obsession and can lead to bouts of depression if it doesn't happen fast enough for you.
Keep in mind, however, that it is still important to lose the weight, even if it takes some time to lose it. You'll be preventing diabetes, heart disease, etc., which can show up later in life. You want to be a healthy mom for your kids for the rest of your life, right?
Start off in a healthy way by getting slowly back into shape, starting a new exercise routine, and eating a balanced diet. If you need some extra help, seek out the advice of your doctor, a dietitian or a personal trainer. Don't worry about fad diets or dieting pills; they can add more stress to your life than you need, especially when they don't work as you wish them to work.
As time moves on, you'll find that you can shed the pregnancy weight gained and fit back into your old clothes. Trust me: it'll happen if you stay focused and stay healthy!
Try to set a goal of one year to lose the pregnancy weight. If you gained 30 lbs during pregnancy, then you can aim to lose a steady 2.5 lbs every month, which is a healthy goal. You may find that you reach the goal sooner than expected, especially if a lot of the pregnancy weight was water weight, which is usually shed within the first few weeks after giving birth. And if you take a bit longer to lose those pounds? So what! Embrace your new mom body!
Being a New Mom
Enjoy Every Moment
Life flies by way too fast. One moment you're in labor, having a tiny baby, and in the next moment you're sending him or her off to college.
10. Enjoy Every Moment
My best advice to you is to learn to enjoy every moment as a new mom. It may take some time to reach this goal, but once you've settled into a routine with your baby, you should spend some time just being a new mom.
How do you do that, being such a busy person? Sit for a few minutes every day just staring into your baby's eyes. Sing some lullabies or dance around the room with the baby in your arms. Keep track of every little thing in a journal or a baby book as they happen, before you forget they happened. Have fun practicing tummy time or pointing out the colors of the flowers as you take a stroll through a park.
Marvel at the newness of it all, at the magic of it all. You helped to create this new, tiny being who is all yours to love and care for. Isn't that fabulous?
Enjoy every moment, Mom! You deserve it!
How to Achieve Your Goals
The best advice I can give you is to take your time achieving these goals. Being a great mom is not a race, nor is it a competition. It does, however, take a lot of time and commitment, along with a healthy dose of love.
It's okay to set some time limits for these goals, but keep in mind, most of these can take a year or more. You won't be working on these things by yourself; don't forget you have a little one to care for now! Along with that, there are just some things in motherhood that are ongoing and never go away, like learning to laugh when things get tough or enjoying every moment.
How to Be a Good Mom
Don't worry; in time, you'll find that you're a darn good mom. If you can meet these ten goals and objectives, you'll be well on your way to being the best mom for your baby.
It all takes time, patience, laughter, and love--lots and lots of love.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Sulabha Dhavalikar from Indore, India on September 01, 2016:
Nice, informative article.
I admit, I was not that good when my children were babies. It's only later when they reached senior school that I proved a capable mother.
Good. Thumbs up!
Frenchie Kisses from Home Sweet Home on April 10, 2016:
You hit the nail on the head when you said that motherhood isn't a race or a competition. Mothers are constantly under the microscope. Your tips take mothering back to basics and remind us all of what's important. Thank you!
suzanne on February 01, 2016:
You put a lot of thought into this post, very helpful. When I was a new mother I didn't have the benefit of the internet.
Best Baby Care Deals from USA on October 03, 2015:
you have shared amazing information. Good to be here.
Lara C. on September 17, 2015:
These are some great tips -- I know that moms are never fully prepared for what's coming with a new baby, I love your tips to enjoy and trust motherly instincts!
Jo-Ann Brightman on July 06, 2015:
These are great tips for new mothers and I hope all mothers will follow them.
Akriti Mattu from Shimla, India on May 26, 2015:
Read a couple of your posts. You are such a thoughtful writer. Keep up the good work :
Marissa (author) from United States on May 08, 2013:
Maria Iemma , you make a great point: asking for help does not mean you don't know how to care for your baby. Thanks for reading!
Maria Iemma on May 08, 2013:
I think the most important one is to ask for help. Sometimes you want to do everything for the baby but for the first few weeks/months you are sleep deprived and you just delivered a baby and should accept the help from family/friends and it does not mean you cannot take care of your baby.
Marissa (author) from United States on May 08, 2013:
Sylvia Ortiz, congratulations to you and your son and daughter-in-law! I hope all goes well with her pregnancy. Best wishes to all of you, and thanks for reading!
Sylvia Ortiz on May 08, 2013:
Great information for new Mom's to be. My son just told me today that I am going to be a Grandma again (will be my 2nd one), and this is a great article to share with my daughter-in-law. Thanks for the great post.
Marissa (author) from United States on March 13, 2013:
vandynegl, I love comments like yours! I'm glad you found a connection in my hubs. It's so nice to hear from other SAHMs who feel the same way as I do about being home with the kids and how it is so worth it to be with the kids during their formative years.
Thanks for reading and commenting, and best wishes to you as a SAHM! :)
vandynegl from Ohio Valley on March 12, 2013:
Hi Practical Mommy! I've just discovered some of your hubs and love them! Your hub on making the decision to be a stay at home mom has hit home for me. I am also a teacher, and still hold an "active" teaching license (to keep my doors open). I have tried to go back to work, with my kids being 3 and 5 right now, but I wasn't very successful at it! I love being a teacher, but my "mommy role" was calling me. I don't have my parents available to watch my children, so it really limited me with help. I've always had people say to me, "you will always have a chance to work, but you will never see your kids be this age again." That is so true. The skills we have learned as teachers have enriched our experiences as moms. Yes, we will have our "going nuts" days (more often than not!), but it is worth it. Thank you for sharing all of your information! I look forward to reading more :)
Marissa (author) from United States on February 15, 2013:
jayshreepattanaik, thanks for reading and commenting!
JITENDRA from INDIA on February 14, 2013:
it is really interesting hub...because care of a newborn baby is very most important for parents .....
Marissa (author) from United States on January 24, 2013:
AustralianNappies, glad you think so! Thanks for reading! :)
AustralianNappies from Australia on January 24, 2013:
Simply fabulous advice!
Marissa (author) from United States on January 04, 2013:
girishpuri, glad you like the suggestions. Thanks for reading and commenting!
Girish puri from NCR , INDIA on January 04, 2013:
Great suggestions, i am sure, every new mother shall be benefited with these guidelines.
Marissa (author) from United States on January 02, 2013:
teaches12345, laughter and help can really make a difference in a new mom's life. :) Thank you for reading and for your kind comment!
Dianna Mendez on January 01, 2013:
I like your learn to laugh and ask for help -- good suggestions for living life well in general. Excellent tips for new moms who are often hesitant to seek advice from others.
Marissa (author) from United States on December 29, 2012:
tlpoague, that's great that you were able to get some sleep and laugh, even with two kids 17 months apart! Best wishes to your daughter and your new grandbaby. :) Thanks for reading!
Tammy from USA on December 29, 2012:
Great advice here again. I have enjoyed reading your hubs even though I haven't had much time to comment. This reminded me of when I had my children. Unfortunately I didn't have help until my youngest was nearly a year old. Having two children 17 months apart was a challenge. I think I followed all your tips here on when to get sleep and laughing at the most unusual moments. Now I am looking forward to my grandbaby and have been passing your information on to my daughter throughout her pregnancy. Thanks for all your helpful tips.
Marissa (author) from United States on December 29, 2012:
pstraubie48, it really is a different experience when you take care of your own baby, isn't it? :) Thanks so much for reading and commenting!
Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on December 29, 2012:
This took me back to when my daughter was my new born baby girl and I really had not a clue. I had helped to take care of my nieces and nephews for many years as a young girl but this was different. She was my new little child and from day one it was love. I had no idea. My Momma had always told me that when I had my own child I would understand how much she and Daddy loved me. And when my baby was born, I GOT it.
You have wisely listed what all new mom's should read...laughing is a good thing...and relishing every single moment says it all. thanks for sharing this with us.:) ps
Marissa (author) from United States on December 28, 2012:
Monis Mas, I'm glad you liked the hub, and I hope you can use the advice in the future. :)
Marissa (author) from United States on December 28, 2012:
rosika, thank you very much for your kind comment!
Marissa (author) from United States on December 28, 2012:
billybuc, they do grow so fast, don't they? Thanks so much for reading and commenting! :)
Agaltom on December 27, 2012:
I am not a mom yet, but I am hoping to be! Great hub! Thanks!
rosika on December 27, 2012:
You have written it really well!...very good information, every new mother will benefit from setting above goals as you have mentioned!
Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on December 27, 2012:
Great suggestions, especially the last one...enjoy every moment! Time moves so quickly, and before you know it, our children are grown and gone....cherish those years when they are with you.