A baby bump encourages everyone from family members to new acquaintances to offer unsolicited advice. During your pregnancy, you will hear opinions on everything from nursing to when it’s okay to introduce stuffed animals to what types of swaddling blankets are the best. While these everyday experts mean well, sometimes the guidance they have to offer isn’t always accurate.
I’ve worked with new and expecting moms for over twenty years, and when it comes to baby advice, I have probably heard it all. However, there are a couple of things that new parents often aren’t aware of. Below are ten basics that all expecting moms should be prepared for.
- Your due date will not change once assigned, but that is not a guarantee of when your baby will be born. Only a small number of women actually deliver on their due date. Some babies are ready to join the world early, while others take their sweet time.
- Newborn poop doesn’t look like poop. Your baby’s first bowel movement will be a sticky, tar-like substance — and that’s a good thing. This substance, known as meconium, is jam-packed with everything your baby ingested while in utero, from amniotic fluid to skin cells.
- Breastfeeding is hard. Yes, it is natural, and most moms and babies can have a successful breastfeeding relationship. Still, it often takes time and lots of practice. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
- Swaddling a real baby is harder than swaddling the doll in your birthing class. But it’s a critical calming technique for most babies, so keep at it. As with all things baby-related, it will get easier.
- You will need an extra 30 minutes to leave the house. Tiny humans require a ridiculous amount of cargo, and packing it all up can feel like an overwhelming task in the early months. For an easier exit, keep the diaper bag stocked and ready to go.
- Newborns are noisy sleepers. Grunts, snorts and yelps are all par for the course when a baby is sleeping.
- Never leave home without hand sanitizer. And don’t be shy about offering it up to everyone who wants to hold your baby. Your tiny tyke hasn’t had a chance to build up an immune system yet, so keeping germs at bay is crucial.
- Sometimes babies cry for no reason. If you’ve fed, changed and swaddled your little one and the fussing just won’t stop, don’t despair. You may not always know what your newborn needs, but the effort isn’t wasted — your baby still feels the love. And if you’re ever at the end of your rope, it’s perfectly fine to set your baby down in the crib and walk away for a few moments.
- Always bring an extra outfit. Diaper blowouts are real, and they never seem to happen at home.
- Changing hormones and sleep deprivation are no joke. Your moods will likely be all over the place in the first few months. Ask for help, try to take some time for yourself, and talk to your doctor if you’re feeling depressed or anxious.
Becoming a parent is a great adventure. There’s so much to learn and understand, and sometimes the suggestion you least expect becomes the piece of wisdom you need the most down the road. Remember, no matter what happens: take a deep breath and remind yourself that you’re doing a great job. You brought a new little life into the world! If an overeager friend hasn’t already told you, these are the moments you will look back on and cherish someday.
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