The best advice for new moms

If you’re sitting there Googling, “How to Be a good Mother,” this one’s for you. Set aside your new mom anxiety and lower your standard a bit; there’s no way you’re going to be a perfect mother. But, if you’re worried about it, chances are you are going to be a great mom. No one has all the answers, but moms who have been in the trenches before tend to have some of the best advice for new parents. We asked some of the most experienced, real and humble moms for their advice on life with a newborn. Learn from their mistakes, advice and humor as you endeavor on your journey to be a new parent. Some of the advice is practical (drink water!) some advice is more general, but it’s all good, solid advice for new moms and mamas-to-be.

How to be a good mother

“Forget the baby, the best thing first time parents can do is remember to take care of themselves. Having a baby is exhausting. The first few weeks are going to feel like a blur as you navigate baby sleep, diaper changes, quality time and life with a newborn. The old adage may be cliche, but it’s true. ‘Sleep when the baby sleeps,’ and prioritize self care. Don’t feel guilty! If you’re falling apart, it’s going to be that much harder to tap into those maternal instincts. If someone offers you help, take it!” ~Marisa Meyers, mom of 4.

“Sleep when the baby sleeps,” is one of the most common nuggets of advice for new moms. As if everything else in life will magically happen while you both snooze peacefully. Should you also clean when the baby cleans, and cook when the baby cooks too? Of course, you should sleep at some point, though, so try to catch those zzz’s whenever you can.

I’ll never forget still trying to feel like I had it all together after I had just given birth to a whole person. Give yourself a break. The dishes will eventually get done and people will eventually get to hold the new baby. Better yet, if you allow visitors, put them to work filling the dishwasher or some other simple household chores. Likely, you won’t get that opportunity again.

“Drink water. You’re likely so tired and worn out and you don’t even realize how depleted you are. I started drinking a gallon of water per day after my third baby and I had so much more energy, my skin looked better, and I felt much better.” ~Katie Reidler, mom of two.

Drinking enough water is essential for everyone, especially new parents, and those that are breastfeeding. Invest in a large Hydroflask or take the sippy water bottle home from the hospital and keep it and some snacks accessible while you are tending to your newborn.

“It is okay to set your crying baby down for two minutes to take a breather and regroup so you can better handle the situation. Sleep deprivation and a fussy baby can really get the best of you.” ~Brittany Roell, mom of 4.

Decoding your baby’s cries

Crying is your baby’s way of communicating, but sometimes the message is unclear. Sometimes it’s not enough to change a baby’s diaper, feed, comfort, and swaddle your baby. Sometimes, they just cry. If you feel like you’re at your wits end, just walk away. Put your child down in a safe spot (i.e. on their back in their crib with nothing else) and take a breather. Many babies suffer from colic during the first three months. You can try gas drops and bicycling their legs to make them more comfortable, but sometimes it just takes time.

If baby is inconsolable, another good piece of advice is to check their toes. It sounds weird, but sometimes a strand of hair or string can get wrapped around cute little baby toes or fingers like a tourniquet. Consult a doctor if this is the case, as it can have serious and detrimental effects.

“Two simple yet effective methods to calm a fussy baby: Take them outside for fresh air or give them a bath. This works wonders as they get older too! Oh, and baby wearing will change your life! Having your arms free to be able to do other things while the baby is still able to sleep on you, especially during that time in the first 3-4 months (they refer to as the fourth trimester) is seriously the best!” ~Sarah Westerling, mom of three.

Look up some videos about babywearing and try not to get frustrated if it doesn’t work out initially. Finding the right baby carrier for you and your baby might take a few tries, but once you find the right carrier and you and the baby are comfy, babywearing is amazing!

The first few days with a newborn baby

Don’t be afraid to take some time to bond with your child, alone. Don’t let your best friend or your mother-in-law guilt you into letting them visit as soon as possible.

“You’re not obligated to let everyone come hold the baby right away or at all. You can sit, talk to, and load up on baby snuggles for an entire day if that’s what you want to do. You don’t have to open the door for anyone or people-please. You just had a whole human and you’re allowed to soak it in.” ~Amanda Horn, mom of three.

The internet is not always your friend. A lot of what you’re going to experience in the first few days is perfectly normal. Trust your mom-gut, and try not to overreact to every slight elevation in body temperature, hiccup, or sniffle.

“Try to stay off Google. I know you won’t, but you really should. I’m not even a first-time mom any more, but in the last two weeks, Google has led me to believe that two of my kids might have brain tumors, one might have meningitis, and another might have Covid. They’re all fine. Trust your mama gut and not Dr. Google.” ~Lindsay Thomas

When in doubt, call the baby’s doctor. That’s what they’re there for. There’s no such thing as a stupid question. Call the nurse line or your child’s doctor if questions arise, and save the family and yourself a lot of stress. They’ve probably heard every insane question from first time moms and will answer without judgment.

If you’re prone to panic, there are gadgets and devices for everything. One of the biggest concerns new parents have is about sudden infant death syndrome.

“Buying the Owlet saved my sanity. It’s not for everyone and there are some disadvantages (like false alarms going off at 3am). However, I finally got several hours of sleep (in a row) after using it. While buying the Owlet outright is kind of expensive, sometimes they can be found more cheaply in mom groups or local marketplaces. For newbie, anxious moms, this may give you a little reassurance and peace at night.” ~Patricia Davie, mom of 2.

Find your tribe

Finding a group of supportive women to go to with questions and for understanding is so helpful when recovering from labor, during the sleepless nights, and through the ups and downs of motherhood. There are social media groups that typically start out as pregnancy groups. However, sometimes these can be immense, and making a post can get lost in the void. Depending on your engagement with the group, it might be beneficial for you, or it may just be a place where you ask questions occasionally.

“[Find] a support group of other moms. I found mine when I joined a new moms group six weeks postpartum. It was helpful to have moms at the same stage of life as you (and baby).” ~Whitney West

Even texting back and forth with other moms can help. Sometimes it’s just a gut check to make sure what you’re doing or feeling is normal.

“Not feeling like yourself anymore is normal! Seeking out mental health support if you’re struggling with the life change is something to be proud of, not ashamed of.” ~Rachel Ann

CDC research has shown that “One in eight women experience symptoms of postpartum depression.” After pregnancy and birth hormones are raging, it’s normal to feel emotional and exhausted after the huge change you’ve been through. However, if feelings of hopelessness, withdrawing from loved ones, or feelings of anger are symptoms you experience, reaching out for help, talking to your doctor, and finding a good mental health therapist is important.

Get in the picture

“Take too many pictures, and make sure you’re in them sometimes.” ~Dr. Allison Smith

With smartphones pretty much glued to our hands these days, taking pictures of our babies probably won’t be a problem. However, make sure to ask your partner, mom, or friend to get some pictures of you and the baby. Selfies with babies are cute, but they usually don’t capture candid, sweet, motherly moments.

“Forget the baby, the best thing first time parents can do is remember to take care of themselves. Having a baby is exhausting. The first few weeks are going to feel like a blur as you navigate baby sleep, diaper changes, quality time and life with a newborn. The old adage may be cliche, but it’s true. ‘Sleep when the baby sleeps,’ and prioritize self care. Don’t feel guilty! If you’re falling apart, it’s going to be that much harder to tap into those maternal instincts. If someone offers you help, take it!” ~Marisa Meyers, mom of 4.

“Sleep when the baby sleeps,” is one of the most common nuggets of advice for new moms. As if everything else in life will magically happen while you both snooze peacefully. Should you also clean when the baby cleans, and cook when the baby cooks too? Of course, you should sleep at some point, though, so try to catch those zzz’s whenever you can.

I’ll never forget still trying to feel like I had it all together after I had just given birth to a whole person. Give yourself a break. The dishes will eventually get done and people will eventually get to hold the new baby. Better yet, if you allow visitors, put them to work filling the dishwasher or some other simple household chores. Likely, you won’t get that opportunity again.

“Drink water. You’re likely so tired and worn out and you don’t even realize how depleted you are. I started drinking a gallon of water per day after my third baby and I had so much more energy, my skin looked better, and I felt much better.” ~Katie Reidler, mom of two.

Drinking enough water is essential for everyone, especially new parents, and those that are breastfeeding. Invest in a large Hydroflask or take the sippy water bottle home from the hospital and keep it and some snacks accessible while you are tending to your newborn.

“It is okay to set your crying baby down for two minutes to take a breather and regroup so you can better handle the situation. Sleep deprivation and a fussy baby can really get the best of you.” ~Brittany Roell, mom of 4.

Decoding your baby’s cries

Crying is your baby’s way of communicating, but sometimes the message is unclear. Sometimes it’s not enough to change a baby’s diaper, feed, comfort, and swaddle your baby. Sometimes, they just cry. If you feel like you’re at your wits end, just walk away. Put your child down in a safe spot (i.e. on their back in their crib with nothing else) and take a breather. Many babies suffer from colic during the first three months. You can try gas drops and bicycling their legs to make them more comfortable, but sometimes it just takes time.

If baby is inconsolable, another good piece of advice is to check their toes. It sounds weird, but sometimes a strand of hair or string can get wrapped around cute little baby toes or fingers like a tourniquet. Consult a doctor if this is the case, as it can have serious and detrimental effects.

“Two simple yet effective methods to calm a fussy baby: Take them outside for fresh air or give them a bath. This works wonders as they get older too! Oh, and baby wearing will change your life! Having your arms free to be able to do other things while the baby is still able to sleep on you, especially during that time in the first 3-4 months (they refer to as the fourth trimester) is seriously the best!” ~Sarah Westerling, mom of three.

Look up some videos about babywearing and try not to get frustrated if it doesn’t work out initially. Finding the right baby carrier for you and your baby might take a few tries, but once you find the right carrier and you and the baby are comfy, babywearing is amazing!

The first few days with a newborn baby

Don’t be afraid to take some time to bond with your child, alone. Don’t let your best friend or your mother-in-law guilt you into letting them visit as soon as possible.

“You’re not obligated to let everyone come hold the baby right away or at all. You can sit, talk to, and load up on baby snuggles for an entire day if that’s what you want to do. You don’t have to open the door for anyone or people-please. You just had a whole human and you’re allowed to soak it in.” ~Amanda Horn, mom of three.

The internet is not always your friend. A lot of what you’re going to experience in the first few days is perfectly normal. Trust your mom-gut, and try not to overreact to every slight elevation in body temperature, hiccup, or sniffle.

“Try to stay off Google. I know you won’t, but you really should. I’m not even a first-time mom any more, but in the last two weeks, Google has led me to believe that two of my kids might have brain tumors, one might have meningitis, and another might have Covid. They’re all fine. Trust your mama gut and not Dr. Google.” ~Lindsay Thomas

When in doubt, call the baby’s doctor. That’s what they’re there for. There’s no such thing as a stupid question. Call the nurse line or your child’s doctor if questions arise, and save the family and yourself a lot of stress. They’ve probably heard every insane question from first time moms and will answer without judgment.

If you’re prone to panic, there are gadgets and devices for everything. One of the biggest concerns new parents have is about sudden infant death syndrome.

“Buying the Owlet saved my sanity. It’s not for everyone and there are some disadvantages (like false alarms going off at 3am). However, I finally got several hours of sleep (in a row) after using it. While buying the Owlet outright is kind of expensive, sometimes they can be found more cheaply in mom groups or local marketplaces. For newbie, anxious moms, this may give you a little reassurance and peace at night.” ~Patricia Davie, mom of 2.

Find your tribe

Finding a group of supportive women to go to with questions and for understanding is so helpful when recovering from labor, during the sleepless nights, and through the ups and downs of motherhood. There are social media groups that typically start out as pregnancy groups. However, sometimes these can be immense, and making a post can get lost in the void. Depending on your engagement with the group, it might be beneficial for you, or it may just be a place where you ask questions occasionally.

“[Find] a support group of other moms. I found mine when I joined a new moms group six weeks postpartum. It was helpful to have moms at the same stage of life as you (and baby).” ~Whitney West

Even texting back and forth with other moms can help. Sometimes it’s just a gut check to make sure what you’re doing or feeling is normal.

“Not feeling like yourself anymore is normal! Seeking out mental health support if you’re struggling with the life change is something to be proud of, not ashamed of.” ~Rachel Ann

CDC research has shown that “One in eight women experience symptoms of postpartum depression.” After pregnancy and birth hormones are raging, it’s normal to feel emotional and exhausted after the huge change you’ve been through. However, if feelings of hopelessness, withdrawing from loved ones, or feelings of anger are symptoms you experience, reaching out for help, talking to your doctor, and finding a good mental health therapist is important.

Get in the picture

“Take too many pictures, and make sure you’re in them sometimes.” ~Dr. Allison Smith

With smartphones pretty much glued to our hands these days, taking pictures of our babies probably won’t be a problem. However, make sure to ask your partner, mom, or friend to get some pictures of you and the baby. Selfies with babies are cute, but they usually don’t capture candid, sweet, motherly moments.