Have you ever heard the saying that nobody is ever fully ready to have kids? I won’t lie; I thought that my experience as a nurse made it so I was ready. I had some education. I’d seen several women give birth. I’d taken care of sick infants and children. What more could there be? I had it in the bag…right?
Wrong! I had no idea what the hell I was in for. Granted, my experience may not be your experience and every mother and child is different. But let me tell you a few things I wish I had known before giving birth to my daughter.
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What I wish I knew before birth:
- You will be exhausted beyond belief! I had been told by multiple other nurses that having a newborn will be the most tired you will ever be in your life. I shrugged this off thinking, “I’ve been through nursing school. You can’t get more tired than staying up all night and going to clinical the next day on no sleep, right?” Wrong! Try staying up all night, multiple nights in a row, with maybe an hour of sleep here and an hour there. It got to the point to where I was hallucinating. I was SEEING THINGS THAT WEREN’T THERE and falling asleep in the middle of a conversation…while sitting upright in a chair. This kind of sleep deprivation is dangerous. Which brings me to my next point.
- You may be your newborns biggest threat! BEWARE: Sleep deprivation may put your baby at increased risk for unsafe sleeping arrangements. I can’t tell you how many horror stories I have heard about mothers falling asleep while feeding their babies and the infant suffocates. It is understandable why it happens! I am guilty of falling asleep in a recliner or on the couch with my daughter. My lactation consultant brought me to tears when she found out, saying I put my baby at risk for suffocation. I know all about safe sleeping. I have educated numerous patients in regards to safe sleeping arrangements. However, I ate those words after I gave birth and experienced it all for myself. Her words to me were, “if you feel like you might pass out, then immediately put the baby down in their crib.” If you feel like you can’t do this then the next safest place is in your bed with no pillows or blankets. Our mattress however had a bunch of memory foam on top and therefore was not firm at all, so the first 3 weeks of my daughter’s life, we slept on the floor…this was a bit extreme but I was deathly afraid of the alternative.
- You may feel numb after birth. I was expecting this overwhelming sense of love as soon as I saw my baby girl, but I didn’t. Don’t get me wrong, I of course loved my baby but I believe the surge in hormones and the craziness of birth masked my emotions. I didn’t feel better until about 2 weeks later after my hormones were back down to more normal levels. I found out later that feeling detached from your baby is a warning sign for postpartum depression.
- It’s no longer about you! You are the only person that you have had to think about for your whole life. I knew this but it hit like a ton of bricks once my daughter was born. It is all about your child now. Your body is no longer yours; it’s your baby’s (if your breastfeeding)! I knew that a newborn depends on its mother for survival. What I was not prepared for was how it made me feel. I felt like I had no control over my life or my body. Once the baby is born everything becomes about the baby. Which makes perfect sense, but i felt as if I was lost in the fray. Is this selfish? Yes. But I was a new mom going through raging hormone changes and had little guidance as to how to deal with my emotions. This was another sign of postpartum depression.
- The change in your life may put a strain on your marriage or relationship. This happens to a lot of couples! I’m not going to dive into this too much, but if you are having problems before your baby is born, please consider couples counseling ahead of time. I know it seems over kill and some may think counseling is stupid. However, what you don’t want is to get to the point of no return. The point where it’s too late for counseling. The birth of the baby could be the thing that breaks the camels back. Don’t let that happen! You need support after having a baby…not more stress.
- Don’t forget that daddy is going through big changes as well. Our society focuses mainly on mommy and baby…but what about daddy? He is now shoved to the side with no idea what to do. Some guys are great at preparing themselves for fatherhood, while others struggle. Regardless, I have heard from numerous new dads that they feel powerless. This is especially true during birth as they watch you go through agonizing pain. Then again after birth when baby is attached to mom 24/7. Make sure daddy has a support system as well, knows what to expect, and also how he can help! Check out this awesome post by Christina at hearthomeandtravel.com for some ideas on how to include daddy once baby arrives. In times like these it’s best to just tell them what to do so they don’t have to try and read our minds
- Breastfeeding is harder than it looks! Here I am thinking you just put your boob in its mouth right? Wrong! There is a special technique that takes practice. There are tongue-ties, lip ties, big nipples, small nipples, inverted nipples, breast shields, special positions, and tricks to ensure your baby is getting enough milk. Try to learn as much as you can before birth but at the same time try not to get too overwhelmed. Learning to breastfeed takes time with lots of trial and error.
- Breastfeeding hurts! I feel like I should have known this but again I was in pure ignorant bliss. It makes sense though. A baby that is constantly sucking on your nipple is going to suck it till its raw! So, when you get ready to feed that precious baby again and they latch on, be ready to let out a small cry of agony. Check out my pinterest board on breastfeeding for some awesome tips from other mommy’s.
- Fed is best! There is so much hype out there about breastfeeding and how it is the best for your baby. This is true, but only to an extent. Yes, there is loads of evidence out there about the benefits of breastfeeding for your baby. The antibodies it contains, nutrition, bonding experience, and the decrease in several types of cancer. However, do not forget that if breastfeeding is not feasible, a fed baby is a live baby! My daughter lost 10% of her birth weight because my milk took 7 days to come in. I was not producing enough colostrum and we were having latch problems. I was exhausted and my baby would not stop crying. We were both miserable and every lactation consultant told me to stay away from formula. I did not give in until 2 months later when I went to Walgreens late at night, bought some formula, gave it to my daughter, and we both slept 4 hours in a row for the first time in months. I put her at risk for starvation and death! Do not make the same mistake I did all because society has its head up its ass. Your baby means more. Fed is best! Please check out this amazing foundation and educate yourself so you are informed when the time comes.
- You don’t need all those fancy things! You guys there are so many things that I bought for my newborn that I barely used. Talk about money down the drain. I maybe used our changing table like 8 times. Why? Because the floor and couch were much more convenient. You really only need the basics. Check out this post on the bare essentials for your newborn, written by Bee at hellobee.com. Now if you can afford all those awesome baby goodies, then by all means have at it. But if not, please don’t fret! Stick with the basics and save for the bigger items you will need later on.
- Accept help! I know you guys have probably heard this time and time again, but it is SO TRUE! I failed to follow everyone’s advice. I will not make that mistake with baby number two. Granted, its nice to have some quiet time with just you and the baby, but if you have family and friends offering to make you dinner, watch the baby so you can sleep, or help around the house. TAKE IT!! If your stubborn like me, you think you have it all under control when in reality you’re drowning. Nobody needs to drown here! You just pushed a giant baby out of your hoo-ha. You deserve some pampering. Let them!
Having a baby is a huge life change! It doesn’t just change how you do things each day. It changes your emotions, your future, the way you look at life, and what is most important to you. Keep an open mind about what is to come and remember, as long as you are doing what you think is best for your baby, with the knowledge that you have, you are doing great!