Congratulations! Becoming a mother marks the start of an amazing journey, one which I’ve also begun recently. While I know they grow quickly, it’s hard to believe my little baby is already zooming towards the one year mark (and beyond).
Though I considered myself to be pretty well prepared for mothering a child, I made a point to never assume I knew everything. And, let me tell you… there is a lot I have learned already! I really could fill a book with stories and ideas, but for now, I’d like to keep it simple. And sweet!
Learn to take advice with a grain of salt. Everyone will have suggestions for you, or anecdotes to share. And usually, these people are genuinely trying to be helpful …even though the advice they give may not always be useful to you. I’ve found the best thing to do is smile, graciously say “thank you,” and make a mental note of it if you do find something you can apply to your life. If not, don’t sweat it!
There is a ton of baby stuff on the market. Relax, you don’t need it all. There are a few essentials, but the rest is just fluff. Some products will make your life easier, but others are just out there to profit. The trick is finding out which ones you need! I recommend asking other moms what they found useful, and what they could’ve lived without. For us, my essential baby items were as follows:
- Baby carrier / wrap
- Swing (AC or batteries)
- Cloth diapers, (via diaper service), diaper covers, and snappis
- Layette (mostly onesies)
We have loved babywearing, it has been a lifesaver for those fussy times when your little one needs to be held close. My little boy loves napping while I work or do chores. And when looking at swings, consider if you really want to be changing batteries all the time; we love that ours simply plugs into the wall (and can swing the infant car seat too). I bet you’re curious which baby products we found to be superfluous and unneccessary, right? For example, while a wipes warmer sounds like a neat idea, consider where you would plug it in… and more importantly, why it’s needed. You can quickly warm a wipe between your palms prior to use! We also didn’t use bibs (aside from at the table for food)…they just ended up being one more item of clothing to wash, fold, and put away. Use your judgment, and ask yourself how long a product might be useful (days, weeks, months?) before investing.
Using a cloth diaper service has been wonderful. Not only are we keeping diapers out of the landfill, but my baby doesn’t get icky chemicals against his skin for hours on end… and no diaper rash! What sold my husband on the diaper service was the ease of use. We don’t have to rinse or scrape the diapers, simply toss them in a hamper, and put the bag out once a week. Plus, it’s a fixed cost… and I never have to worry about running out of diapers.
Some other activities/groups that I highly recommend:
La Leche League – there are many local chapters that meet on a monthly basis, and there’s also an online forum. I have found my La Leche group to be a wonderful source of support. If you can find the time to attend while you are still pregnant… do it! You will be able to get any birth or early nursing questions answered before you are in an urgent need-to-know situation.
Prenatal/postnatal yoga – I can’t say enough about how my yoga class helped me survive through rough times. It was a weekly escape where I could focus on restoring my inner peace and allowing my body to let go of tension. The best part about taking a class geared towards new and expecting moms is that the poses are adapted for your body’s needs and abilities. Instead of focusing on general well-being, I was able to help my body cope with the changes of pregnancy; and later, to help my body recover and heal.
Babywearing International Groups – I discovered my local babywearing chapter by chance. It has been one of the best assets, providing me with an opportunity to get out on a weekly basis, while enabling me to keep my baby close at hand. Chapters usually have extensive libraries, and you can borrow all sorts of different baby carriers to figure out which works best for you. It’s amazing when I consider that only a year ago, I thought that my only options for wearing my baby were the Baby Bjorn carrier and the Mobywrap. Far from it. In fact, I discovered how poorly the Baby Bjorn fits both mom and baby. My favorite carrier is varies depending on the day and my mood, but I like my Boba soft structured carrier, my BabyHawk mei Tai, and my new favorite is a Didymos woven wrap. There is no comparison to the comfort and support I feel when wearing my little boy in these baby carriers!
Baby Portraits – I am a bit biased, but as a visual person, I loved documenting my pregnancy and my child’s first moments. Let me tell you, there is no comparison between the snapshots we took and the professional portraits we had done. It is wonderful to feel pampered and to be photographed beautifully. We had newborn portraits done within the first week, and while I was physically in poor condition….none of that hits me when I look at my son’s portraits. He is beautiful; I feel beautiful and motherly in the portraits that include me. So, is it worthwhile to splurge on a newborn portrait session? I say yes!
Well, I think that’s a good start; as I said before, I really could go on for hours about this topic. Your best resource is other moms who have been there, done that. Don’t be embarrassed to ask questions, you deserve to be well informed and know all your options!
Your birth experience will likely be different than mine, but the important thing is for you to take ownership. You can plan all you want, certainly! Take Lamaze, read books, but keep in mind that birth is a chapter in the book of motherhood. I wish I’d read fewer pregnancy books and more parenting book while pregnant, if you know what I mean. Birth is the beginning, and your journey will be what you choose to make of it.
Here’s to motherhood! Enjoy the journey!