This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of 1 Natural Way, a TRICARE breast pump provider. All opinions are entirely my own.
Back when I was pregnant with my first son, I eagerly soaked up words of wisdom for new mothers everywhere I could find them. I’d read no less than a dozen books and had talked to all of my friends and relatives who had given birth.
The more I learned, the more nervous I became because I realized there was more to know than I would ever have time to learn. Thankfully, I had a few wise mommy mentors who dumbed it all down for me so I could focus on just a few really important things.
Now, five pregnancies later, this is the same advice I impart to any soon-to-be mom who asks me for parenting tips.
Words of Wisdom for New Mothers
I’m not a parenting expert, just a mom who tries really hard to not suck at this parenting gig she landed. As a mom of five, who happens to be married to a military member, I’ve had to spearhead my family’s parenting efforts due to my husband’s frequent deployments and living several states away from family.
In my efforts, I’ve made a ton of mistakes. My personal opinion is that mistakes are great opportunities to grow and to help others avoid the same problems. I hope you’ll find some helpful guidance in the following tips.
Listen to Yourself
Take or leave any of the advice I’m about to offer because my biggest tip is to follow your instincts. What works for some, doesn’t work for others.
Also, no one will know your child the way you do. You develop a special bond while your child grows inside you. If something feels wrong, don’t feel foolish pushing for answers.
Let Go of Perfect
When I had my son, I was terrified of making mistakes. Certainly, every misstep would ruin his entire future. Wrong!
My oldest is almost 21 years old now. I’ve made hundreds, perhaps thousands, of mistakes while raising him. I’ve lost my temper, I’ve forgotten important events, I’ve gotten distracted when he needed my attention. And yet, he’s turned out to be a happy, well-adjusted young man paving a great path for his own future.
There’s No Single “Right” Way to Do Things
For every piece of parenting advice you’ll receive, you’ll get completely opposite advice from another source. If you ask two different moms about the best diapers to use, you’ll get two different answers.
For every advocate of letting your baby “cry it out” there’s an advocate for co-sleeping. Even when experts do agree (e.g. breastfeeding is the healthiest form of nutrition for infants), there are circumstances that make other alternatives better for your own situation (e.g. your milk production is insufficient or your schedule doesn’t allow for regular feedings).
If you are conscientious about making decisions that you believe are in your family’s best interest, you will naturally find what works best for your family. And as you rebuff critics who tell you that you’re doing things wrong, remember that feeling so that you don’t make other moms feel that way once you’ve found what works for you.
Let Others Help
As women, we place a lot of unnecessary pressure on ourselves to do it all. Here’s a secret: There are no trophies for outstanding postpartum performance.
Your body is going to need time to recover and so are your hormones. Your baby is going to rely on you a lot, so you have to learn to rely on others to pick up some of the slack.
There’s no shame in getting help to keep the house clean or to prepare a few meals. Make good use of everyone’s desire to see your new baby and graciously accept their generosity when it’s offered.
General “Best” Practices
I know I just told you that there’s no single “right” way of doing things. However, there are many aspects of parenting a newborn that are widely accepted as givens.
This is the advice that experts all agree on. They’re the things we know about newborns and their development that you should know when caring for one.
Babies should sleep on their backs. Putting your baby to sleep on his side or stomach significantly increases his risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome).
Always support a newborns neck when holding/handling them. Babies neck muscles lack the strength to hold their heads steady on their own, increasing the risk of brain trauma. If not properly supported, they can also tear muscles and ligaments.
Use a properly installed, rear-facing car seat for newborns.
Breastfeed if you can, otherwise supplement with formula. Since breast milk contains special antibodies and is specially formulated to be easy for your baby to digest, it’s the ideal food for your baby for the first 6 months.
If you can’t breastfeed or don’t want to, baby formula is a great alternative. Never give a baby cow’s milk though since it can lead to iron deficient anemia.
More About Breastfeeding
The BEST advice I got when I was pregnant for the first time was from my friend Kelly who told me breastfeeding was going to be terrible for the first week, but that if I stuck with it, it would get much better.
She was right on both counts. If she hadn’t prepared me for how uncomfortable it would be at the start, I would have been certain I was doing it wrong. And if she hadn’t promised me it would get better, I would have gone immediately to formula.
When I had my fourth child, I developed mastitis which made nursing ten times more painful. If I hadn’t had a breast pump, I would have had to abandon breastfeeding altogether. There was no way I could endure my daughter latching on and suckling.
If you breastfeed your infant at all, a breast pump is a must-have. First, a breast pump allows you to create a supply of milk for your baby in the event you get sick or need a night out. Plus, your spouse can participate in feeding the baby.
Breast pumps can be very expensive so if cost is an issue, consider renting one. Also, check with your insurance provider to see if your insurance covers breastfeeding supplies.
For example, if you are a military family, you can get a free high-quality breast pump from Medela, Spectra or Kiinde through 1 Natural Way. In some cases, you may also be eligible for additional monthly breastfeeding supplies.
Even better, 1 Natural Way does everything they can to make getting a breast pump as easy as possible with little to no out of pocket expenses. You just fill out a form, choose the pump you want, and provide some basic information and they take care of the rest, including contacting Tricare and your doctor.
Becoming a mom for the first time is a miraculous, wonderful experience. Because it is such a major life event, it’s natural for you to have worries and concerns.
By all means, seek out answers to your questions and collect as much information as you need to feel prepared. But also trust in your instincts and choose what works for you and your baby.
You’re going to be an amazing mom and will soon be sharing your own words of wisdom for new mothers who will look to your expertise.