Are you expecting your first baby? Wondering what to expect? Here are 7 things I wish someone had told me before my first baby.
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When I had my first baby, Aidan, I didn’t know what to expect. I had read TONS of books, articles, and pamphlets on how to take care of my baby, but they didn’t really prepare me for what it was going to be like.
Friends, family, and church ladies offered all kinds of advice and platitudes, but they were all about the joys of motherhood or tips for caring for my little one.
No one told me honestly what those first few weeks were going to be like (other than sleep-deprived).
If you are expecting your first baby, or you know someone who is, let me share with you seven things I wish I had known before I had mine.
Related Post: 8 Things (You Might Be Forgetting) To Stockpile Before Baby
7 Things I Wish I Had Known Before My First Baby
- That the only thing I would do the first week or so is feed my baby … and that that’s okay!
This was, without a doubt, the biggest shock to me as a new mom. I did not realize how much of my time would be spent nursing those first few weeks.
Aidan was a very slow eater, and by the time he finished, I usually only had a short window before I had to do it all over again! I would often say to my husband that I didn’t know why I even bothered buttoning up my shirt, or even wearing one at all!
This was very frustrating to me because I thought I should be doing more. I thought I should be more productive.
I voiced this frustration to a more seasoned momma one day, and she reminded me that I was being productive – I was feeding my child! And what could possibly be more important than sustaining this new little life I had brought into the world and making sure he was thriving?
Even if that’s all I got done that day, that was still a big accomplishment! Thinking that way enabled me to be much happier and more peaceful as a new mom.
Is breastfeeding a challenge for you? Read my Epic List of Breastfeeding Tips & Resources! Also, check out my list of breastfeeding essentials!
- That I would not be able to get nearly as much done as I planned.
Before Aidan was born, I was completely naive about the amount of work a newborn requires, and the lack of energy I would feel. I thought I was going to get soooo much done during my 6-week maternity leave.
However, I quickly realized after bringing Aidan home from the hospital that I was not going to be as productive as I had thought.
As I mentioned in point #1, feedings took up a significant chunk of my day, and the rest of it was spent diapering, burping, soothing, etc. This frustrated me a lot in the first couple of weeks until I learned to let things go and simply enjoy bonding with my baby.
One thing that helped me do this was choosing one – only one! – goal for the day and celebrating when I had completed that one task. This helped me feel productive and kept me from getting discouraged by what hadn’t gotten done that day.
Related Post: 10 Keys to a Smoother Transition After a New Baby
- That I would be SO tired… but that this would not last forever!
Okay, so obviously people had told me that I would be tired. And there’s probably no way to know what it’s going to be like until you actually experience it.
But I wish I could have known just HOW tired I would be so that I could have mentally prepared for it somehow. I would have appreciated my pre-baby sleep a little more. I would have slept more in the hospital. And I would have taken more naps in the first few days of being home!
The second part, though, is that it won’t last forever! While I was in the thick of round-the-clock feedings, feeling utterly exhausted, feeling like I could not go on like that, I wish I had known that it would get better, that I would survive, and that I was stronger than I even knew.
New mom exhaustion is honestly awful … but you can take comfort in knowing that it will not last forever! You will sleep again!!
- That I really should stock the freezer.
This is another piece of advice that I’m sure I did read, but I didn’t really listen. If I could go back and give my pre-baby self some advice, it would be STOCK YOUR FREEZER!
A few people brought us meals, and a week after Aidan was born my mother-in-law brought me a couple weeks’ worth of meals, which was a huge blessing.
But for the first 4 days after we came home from the hospital, we had nothing prepared. And after my MIL’s meals ran out, I still was not up to cooking dinner, though I had thought I would be. So ladies – stock your freezers!
For some ideas of super easy freezer meals, check out this post on How I Made 11 Freezer Meals in Only 2 Hours!
Or check out these other freezer meal resources:
Freezer Meals 101: Filling Your Freezer the Fast, Easy Way
My Favorite (and Easiest) Freezer Cooking Method
And while you’re at it, here are some other things (you might not have thought of) that you’ll want to stock up on before baby!
- That I may not form an immediate bond…but that it would come.
This one is very personal but so important to me. It’s so important that I wrote an entire post about it.
Long story short, I did not feel that immediate bond with my new baby that I had heard every mom talk about.
Every mom I talked to said the same thing, “Once they place that baby on your chest, it will make everything worth it!” They would talk about the instant connection and the love that I would feel the minute he was born.
But I didn’t feel that connection with Aidan, and I was devastated. For weeks I thought that there was something wrong with me.
But then slowly, over time, I did start to bond with him, and it started to sink in that I was his mommy. And one day I looked down and thought my heart might literally burst from all the love I felt. And I have never felt so relieved.
So, new mom, if you don’t feel an immediate bond with your baby, don’t despair! Just keep doing what you’re doing, and the feelings will come!
(**Note: I’m not a mental health professional, so if you think you may be suffering from postpartum depression, don’t take my advice – talk to your doctor!)
- That my old routine would not work … but that I would develop a new one.
I am very much a routine kind of girl. I like my routines and I like knowing what to expect from my days. Having a baby, however, threw all my old routines out the window!
Life with just me and my husband had been familiar and comfortable. I could plan out my day however I wanted. And I had all the personal time I needed.
That allllll changed with a baby. Suddenly my schedule was completely different, and it was almost impossible to plan out my days with a newborn.
But I developed a new schedule, a new routine. No, it didn’t look at all like my old one, and some days I truly mourned the loss of my old, care-free life, but as I settled into a new routine I became at peace with life again.
People told me before I had Aidan that I would develop a “new normal,” and I didn’t know what that meant. Now I do.
If you are like me and you thrive on structure and routine, just know that you will find a new rhythm, and you will feel comfortable with your schedule again.
- That it would be the hardest thing I’ve ever done … but also the most rewarding.
This one is super cliche, but it was worth saying anyway. Even though I had read the books, taken the classes, blah, blah, blah, I still had no idea how hard being a mom was going to be.
I was so excited for the baby to come, and then it was all just so overwhelming to me once he came.
I would have felt a lot more at peace those first few months if I had known then what I know now: it is so hard being a mom, but you are stronger than you think, and you can do this!
Most of all, I wish I had known long before I had Aidan that although being a mom is very hard sometimes, it is the most rewarding thing I have ever done in my life.
**Update: I now have follow-up posts — 7 Things I Wish I Had Known Before My Second Baby and 7 Things I Wish I Had Known Before My Third Baby.
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Ellen @ mommyhappiness.net says
This is an awesome list Lisa! I agree! I think knowing all of these things as you head into having your second baby makes you more relaxed…it is still tough to add another child and there is some adjusting but I found because I knew a little more, I was able to enjoy certain things that I was more anxious about the first time around…I agree with your list completely and I too did not form an immediate bond…i felt more of one with my second but I also attribute bring more relaxed to that…awesome post!
Lisa Mullen says
I’m relieved to hear that you felt more of a bond with your second. I’ve been a little worried that I’ll go through all the same struggles again. At least this time I know it gets better!
Great points! Every bit of it true. I especially stress that your old routine will no longer work for you but you’ll find a new one.
Lisa Mullen says
That is the one that I’m finding most challenging after my second baby, as well! At least this time I know it’ll get better. 🙂
Good advice. I’m glad that moms are starting to be more open about how difficult those first few weeks will be. Even with knowing the truth, I think there are some things you just won’t really get until you experience it, but having a little heads up can be really helpful. Part of the beauty of motherhood, though, is that as we push ourselves past any limits we previously thought we had, we realize just how strong and capable we are as human beings (even if we feel like we’re failing half the time). With a little time, patience, and good support, we get through it, and we are pretty amazing beings. Thanks for sharing your experience.
Lisa Mullen says
Oh my goodness, yes! Motherhood has taught me more than any other experience in my life that I’m capable of more than I think I am. I’ve done so many things that I never thought I could! You are so right.
So beautiful!! Definitely can relate to many of these. Although my son was always a fast eater….like 10 minutes tops! ? We definitely underestimate all we do by feeding them and keeping them alive!!! Ha that is a huge accomplishment! xx
Lisa Mullen says
My second baby is a fast eater, too! He’s so much faster than his brother that I was afraid he wasn’t getting enough. But he’s gaining weight, so apparently he’s just more efficient. 🙂
Yes, it is a huge accomplishment!
Miriam Santos pereira says
This is came in the right time ☺️ Im 35weeks pregnant and i has looking for every piece of information I can find, and this is very helpful ? But a think for me it’s a little bit different some things, I live in Portugal and were the father stay with us the first month in home, so a think it’s not necessary stock the freezer ? Beside that i like very much to read this article, because I’m try to finish my degree, and it seems that was very deluded in relation to achieving attend classes as early as after the birth, I thought as they were three days a week I can do it ?☹️
Lisa Mullen says
Luz T says
I have to say that the biggest shocker for me was number 1. I remember I even cried because I just could not believe it haha. Great list!
Lisa Mullen says
Yes, me too! Oh, there were a lot of tears in those first few weeks!
All Things Big and Small says
These are so true! Yes to feeding all the time! Both my kids pretty much nursed constantly until 6 weeks! I am still trying to get used to our bew routine and my kids are 1.5 and 3.5!
Lisa Mullen says
The disruption to my routine has been a challenge for me after my second baby, too. Luckily, he doesn’t nurse quite as long as my older one did!