Baby, Guest Blogger

{guest blogger} the mommy list // katie

Katie of Mommy Call Blog

{Katie is a pediatrician and writes the blog Mommy Call}

In honor of Risa’s new addition, I am sharing my top five tips for new moms. Before getting to the list, I will warn you that once you are pregnant everyone will start giving you parenting advice, whether solicited or not, and not all of it will be good. So take what you want from this list and know that it comes from my experiences and you will have your own unique experiences. Do not let any mom intimidate or pressure you to conform to a certain ideal because there is no right way to be a mother.

1. Breastfeeding is amazing, but in the first few days to weeks it may not feel that way. I recommend that you get support, either from a lactation consultant, doula, doctor, breastfeeding support group, La Leche League, or friend/family member who successfully breastfed. Whether you are struggling or not, feeling connected to a community of breastfeeding mothers is helpful and provides encouragement through the ups and downs. If you are looking for a book, I found The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding to be a good resource.  For sore nipples, I found Lanolin to be helpful, so keep some on your bedside table for the first week. Also, if you are going back to work you will want to get acquainted with a breast pump and start stockpiling some milk. I use the Medela Freestyle, which is light, portable and hands-free. You may be able to get a free pump through your insurance though, so look into this and make sure it is a double-sided electric pump. If you are modest about breastfeeding in public, you will want a nursing cover. For something stylish and practical, I am using an Infinity Mom nursing scarf that I can wear until needed for breastfeeding.

2.  Keep your calendar clear. It is easy to fill your first few weeks home with visitors eager to meet your new addition, but there are a few reasons not to over-commit your social calendar. First, newborns are at risk for infection and therefore the number of visitors should be limited to prevent exposure to germs (and all visitors should wash their hands before touching the baby). Second, it is important for maternal-infant bonding and establishment of breastfeeding to have frequent skin-to-skin contact, which is difficult if your house is full of guests. Third, your growing family needs to establish a new routine and this is harder to do with interruptions. So, take some time to get to know your infant, work on bonding and breastfeeding, and fall into new habits before making big plans.

3.  Take a break. Once you and the baby get into a schedule, you will be able to step away for a moment. This time away may be crucial to your sanity in what sometimes seems like a never-ending cycle of sleeping and feeding (your baby, not you because you barely do either). After my c-section, I had severe back pain, so I had a massage at Massage Bella Vista, which made me feel much better and made me a more functional mommy. The timing of such an outing can be tricky when breastfeeding, but with careful planning and a helpful partner or grandparent is possible. Your time away may be as simple as a cup of tea and a book or something outside, like a manicure, movie or brunch with the girls. Afterwards, you will feel refreshed and this will make you a happier mom.

4.  Wear your baby. Babywearing is known to help promote attachment and development.  It also allows you to easily bring your baby everywhere with you.  In the city, I find wearing my baby is much easier than navigating a stroller while they are still small enough to do so without much fatigue. I have tried many of the carriers (and prefer the Ergo) and recommend that you do so, too, before making a purchase. Cloth in South Philly has a babywearing expert available to answer your questions and you can try some of the carriers. You’ll enjoy having your baby snuggled against you and also having your hands free!

Katie Mommy Call Blog

5.  Say cheese. As a second time mom I can appreciate how fast your time with your kids goes, so capture those moments on film. Plus, all of those baby photos will be useful for yearbooks and wedding slideshows later on! Too often though moms are the ones taking the photos and not being photographed (see Alison Tate’s piece in the Huffington Post). You shouldn’t forget to get in the photo once in awhile and show your children that you were a part of these memories. Many moms don’t want to be photographed postpartum, as it usually isn’t your most glamorous stage of life, but it is important to celebrate the body that gave your child life and nourishes them. You don’t have to be bikini-ready, so throw on some mascara and lip gloss, a sweater dress or maxi skirt, and hold your baby. Someday your children will tell you how beautiful you are and you might actually believe it.

Being a new mom is a beautiful thing, but that can be forgotten in your exhaustion. Hopefully these tips will help provide some ideas and direction when the nights are long and the days are weary. Know that there are many moms out there sharing your experience and that this one shares hers humbly.

[Disclaimer:  These are my opinions and do not constitute personal medical advice. You should talk to your health care provider about what is best for you and your children.]

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