10 Biggest New-Mom Surprises (and How to Deal)
New mamas weigh in on all the things they wish someone had warned them about before baby arrived.
No matter how many books you read or how prepared you feel, babies have their own special way of throwing you for a loop. From your breastfeeding troubles and postpartum bleeding to baby’s colic and indecipherable crying, we asked Bumpies to give it to us straight on their most unexpected, unforgettable moments as a new parent.
The surprise: Breastfeeding isn’t always easy.
"No one prepared me for how hard breastfeeding was or how much it was going to hurt. I even took a class, and the woman basically sugar-coated breastfeeding. Someone should have just given it to me straight. That's what I do now for anyone that asks me about it." -- Jen1231
How to deal: If you’re not getting the hang of breastfeeding right away, don’t beat yourself up. Despite what you may have heard, it doesn’t always come so naturally. And whether baby’s not latching right or you can’t seem to boost your milk supply, there are tons of potential frustrations -- and they’re all totally normal. But before you throw in the towel, make sure you’ve read up on possible solutions to your breastfeeding problems; you may find that a small change to your routine is a real lifesaver. It’s also important to realize that you’re not alone. Head to our breastfeeding boards, chat with other new mamas or join a support group like La Leche League International for advice.
The surprise: Most newborn clothes will go to waste.
"The biggest surprise for me was how quickly my son grew in those first couple of months. Unfortunately there were many clothes that got little to no wear." -- JesykaC21
How to deal: Yep, despite all the sleep deprivation and constant exhaustion, those first couple months sure do fly by. And the likelihood that baby will get a decent run out of every newborn outfit in his closet? Pretty slim. Here’s a tip: Don’t go crazy registering for or buying up tons of adorable outfits in newborn sizes. And whatever you do, don’t go nuts with newborn shoes either (cute as they are). Baby will likely spend a lot of those first three months in and out of onesies instead of fancy outfits, and you’ll be changing him so much thanks to spit-up and diaper mishaps that most of them will hardly see the light of day.
The surprise: Newborns poops are noisy.
"The way a newborn poops really surprised me. It's this explosive sound, which often made my husband and me laugh. I had no idea such a tiny little thing could make such a noisy mess!" -- sakidavi
How to deal: Noisy, smelly, and yes, sometimes explosive, newborn poops are certainly not for the weak-stomached. But hey, it’s all part of the job. Something else to keep in mind: Baby’s poop will be pretty liquidy in that newborn stage, meaning it won’t take much to send it flying. Our advice? Always carry a change of baby clothes.
The surprise: Going back to work is hard.
"I was not at all prepared for the separation depression I felt (and still feel) about working. Work has always been a big part of my life. I loved my job. But now I wish I could spend every day with my son. We can’t afford for me to stay home and I still can’t believe I even want to, but I dream about it." -- amr
How to deal: Heading back to work is rough on every mama, and missing the little guy when you’re away can be overwhelming. But it does get easier. Before you head back to work, make sure you set up a childcare situation that makes you 100 percent comfortable, whether it’s a live-in nanny, a daycare system, or a friend or relative. Then do what you can to stay in the loop during the day by asking your nanny to give you certain updates or calling the daycare periodically to check in. Keeping the lines of communication open will make you feel less disconnected from baby.
The surprise: "Getting to know" baby takes a while.
"Maybe it was just the baby blues, but I did not have that overwhelming love for my baby until one to two months. Eight months later I am amazed how much love I have for her." -- homebody2
How to deal: It’s totally normal to have a hard time adjusting to motherhood at first -- not everything comes naturally and not everyone snaps into “mom mode” the second after they give birth. Same goes for feeling that instant connection to baby. Give yourself a break, and remember your body is going through a lot of hormonal shifts after delivery that will eventually pass. But if the feelings don’t go away, or if they’re too difficult to handle on your own, consider talking to a professional who may be able to get to the root of the problem.
The surprise: You will bleed postpartum.
"I was shocked by the size of the pads you have to wear for weeks post-delivery. It's basically like mommy and baby are wearing matching diapers." -- sasky
How to deal: We know, donning those life-raft-sized pads in the weeks after delivery is no picnic for anyone, but at least you can take comfort in the fact that they’re only temporary, right? Your bleeding should last only for a few days max. (And if it doesn’t, it’s time to call your doc.) After that, it may change to a discharge that will last up to several weeks. Those baby diapers on the other hand? You’ll be changing those for a lot longer.
The surprise: You won’t have time for anything else.
"I had no idea how draining it can be to take care of a child 24/7. I wasn’t prepared to only take care of a child -- I really thought I would be able to keep my housework up and do other stuff. Nope, taking care of baby is all I do all day long." -- asickles98
How to deal: While having a baby definitely sucks a lot of your “me” time in the beginning, you need to be able to set up a system with your partner for doing things like basic chores and running errands. Try devising a plan of attack well before baby arrives and vowing to stick to it as much as possible. Sure, it may be easier said than done before baby comes, but you need to make sure that some semblance of routine is kept up -- if for nothing else than your own sanity.
The surprise: You won’t always know what your crying baby wants.
"How absolutely helpless you can feel when your baby is crying and you have no idea why [was a huge surprise]! It took me about three months to figure out what the different cries meant." -- Mrs. Erin
How to deal: It’s definitely frustrating and emotional when you feel like you’ve tried everything to calm baby and nothing works. The good news is that you’ll eventually come to learn exactly what baby wants the more time you spend with her. A hint in the meantime? Pay attention to the way she cries. A low-pitched cry often means she’s hungry, whereas a high-pitched one means she might be in pain. If her cries build in intensity, she may be tired. And if she’s just plain bored, her cry may sound like a passing whimper. Learn more about how to decipher baby’s cries.
The surprise: Baby might mix up night and day.
"I didn't realize that so many newborns get their days and nights mixed up in the first few days. The first two nights home from the hospital, our son barely slept at all. I remember saying to my mom that I knew new parents were tired, but I thought that was because the baby woke up to eat at night -- not that the baby never went back to sleep!" -- trackchik6
How to deal: It can take a few weeks (or, sorry, even months) for baby to sort out the difference between night and day. In the meantime, try this trick: Take baby outside for at least an hour each day -- the new experiences will stimulate her. Then, at nighttime, avoid any stimulation at all (that means no light, no singing, and no talking).
The surprise: Colic is a nightmare.
"I wish I’d known how to be prepared for colic/acid reflux! I even read some books on the topic beforehand just in case we ran into trouble -- but nothing really prepared me for the reality of caring for a crying baby for hours on end." -- bchap122
How to deal: The dreaded colic actually affects between 10 and 25 percent of infants, though no one’s really sure what causes it. Although baby’s incessant crying can be maddening, there are things you can do to help calm him down. Spring for a white-noise machine and run it while you rock baby to sleep. Let baby suck on a pacifier, swaddle him, or lay him flat on your chest, which will release any built-up gas.
See More: Newborn Basics , Post-birth Recovery
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