15 Things New Moms Should Know.

Via Kate Bartolotta
on Mar 4, 2012
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holding hand

It gets easier. (But it gets a whole lot harder too).

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of massaging a brand new first-time mom. The internal struggle between “Oh my god, it’s so good to relax,” and “Oh my god, what’s going on with the baby?” was palpable. It threw me right back to that time when I was in the throes of feed-the-baby-change-the-baby-feed-the-baby-change-the-baby ad infinitum.

A few things I wish I had known then:

1. You are not the same person anymore. You will never watch the news the same way again. Don’t watch movies where children get kidnapped (trust me on this) if you like to enjoy the limited amounts of sleep you are getting. You will not drive the same. In a way that is phenomenally different from any other relationship, you will never be just you again. You are mom now.

2. But on the flip-side, you are still you. You are in there. The you that laughs at inappropriate jokes, has that third glass of wine and is incredibly sexy—she’s not gone. She might be a little buried under all the laundry, and diapers and stuffed animals. Don’t forget about her. Right now you are leaving the house with spit-up on your shoulder and 30 bags of stuff you might need just-in-case and you can’t even remember your own phone number because you are so effing tired. It won’t be this way forever.

3. Sleep when the baby sleeps. Everyone tells you to do this. Do it. Cleaning the whole house while the baby sleeps doesn’t make you Super Mom. It makes you Zombie Mom. For awhile, I started to worry that I was narcoleptic. Turns out, that’s just what it’s like being a new parent. You can sleep anywhere, any position, at any time. Go for it.

4. Master a wide-eyed, polite nod and the phrase, “Gee, thanks, I’ll have to try that!” It will come in handy for the unsolicited advice from people in the grocery store, your mother-in-law, your neighbors, your childless friends, your friends with the perfect baby that craps rainbows and can sit up and read at three months old and everyone else who has an opinion on how you should parent. And then do what feels right for you.

5. Get dressed in the morning. Right away. You’ll feel a million times better then if you are slogging around the house in what you slept in. It doesn’t matter if you are going anywhere. Just put on a clean shirt and brush your hair.

6. Make time for sex. Seriously. Got five minutes? Make like Nike and “just do it.” A quickie on the bathroom countertop is better than waiting for when you have all afternoon. You will not have all afternoon again for a long time.

7. There is no getting your body back. Why would you want to? You have something new. Becoming a parent affects you. It’s great to take care of your body—I’m not saying let yourself go and stop caring how you look. But Heidi Klum and Gwyneth Paltrow are paid to look how they look and even their bodies have been changed by having children. (And even they don’t look the way they look in glossy photoshopped pictures anyway). You aren’t the same. You are a new beautiful. And the biggest thing that will never go back to how it was before is your heart.

8. The baby will stop crying eventually. When you are holding her, rocking her, walking her around the block, singing ridiculous songs from when you were in high school and doing everything but stand on your head—it feels endless. But she will stop crying. Hang in there. Take ten deep breaths and call a friend who doesn’t mind talking with you while you are bouncing a crying baby in your arms.

9. Sleeping “through the night” is bullsh*t. When people ask if your three-day-old baby is “sleeping through the night,” just say yes. They don’t really care. It’s just what people think they should ask.

10. How you feed your baby is not a measure of your value as a woman. I loved breastfeeding. It worked for me. It was a little rocky getting started, but once I got the hang of it, it was great. But you will never ever hear me tell another woman that she’s making the wrong choice by doing something different. When you are in the midst of it, it seems enormous. But it’s such a short time. It’s only one thing. Nourishing our children is what we do. Internally and externally, motherhood is about giving nourishment. Don’t ever let anyone make you feel bad about how you choose to do it.

11. Throw out those ridiculous What to Expect books. They are awful and designed to make you anxious throughout pregnancy and childhood. Women have been having babies and raising them forever. The two books that helped me most as a parent? Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind and Goodnight Moon. I can still recite Goodnight Moon and do at least once or twice a week even though my babies are now five and seven. It is one of the most soothing things on the planet. I think I want someone to read it to me at bedtime. Still worried you don’t know what to do? You do. And cultivate some mama friends whose values match your own—you need each other.

12. Babywearing will save your back. And your mind. And help keep your hips in some sort of alignment. 90% of the baby gadgets out there are unnecessary. This is the one thing I recommend to every new mom I know. You will also get so much more done. But even with your Maya Wrap or Ergo helping you play supermom and get stuff done, don’t forget to take care of you. Breastfeeding is a great time to meditate. Babies love watching you do yoga—it makes them giggle. Recharge your batteries before they’re used up.

13. No one wants to hear about your baby’s pooping schedule on Facebook. Truly. We love you. Those of us who’ve been there get it. But don’t make us hide you. Enough already.

14. Get a massage. Your body deserves it. Your heart deserves it. It’s an hour. You can take the hour for yourself. Taking care of yourself isn’t self indulgence, it’s self preservation. Taking care of you helps you be a better parent.

15. It goes by so fast. It’s a cliché. It’s a cliché for a reason. Somewhere between taking doll shoes out of their noses, and wiping butts and reciting Goodnight Moon, they grow up.

They go from baby to adult like that!

Savor every single second of it.

Photo: Pixoto


About Kate Bartolotta

Kate Bartolotta is a wellness cheerleader, yogini storyteller, and self-care maven. She also writes for Huffington Post, Yoga International, Mantra Yoga+ Health, a beauty full mind, The Good Men Project, The Green Divas, The Body Project, Project Eve, Thought Catalog and Soulseeds. Kate's books are now available on Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.com. She is passionate about helping people fall in love with their lives. You can connect with Kate on Facebook and Instagram.


32 Responses to “15 Things New Moms Should Know.”

  1. Laura Wells says:

    <3 I shared with my sister (expecting) and our babysitter (also expecting).

  2. Kate Bartolotta says:

    Thanks Laura!

  3. Molly says:

    Beautiful as always Kate!

  4. Lorin says:

    Lovely. I need to write one about new parents of teenagers and adults to go with it!

  5. Yes–I'd love to read it!

  6. Ashley says:

    All of this is true… but I do think electing not to breastfeed when you are able (and 99% of women are able with the right education and support) IS the wrong choice. The nursing relationship is so beautiful, precious and beneficial to both mother and baby in so many ways. I mourn for women who missed it (including my mother and most of her generation, sadly). You are right, however, in that judging or shaming women who do not do it is also not advancing the cause of getting more women to breastfeed.

  7. I get that. I definitely feel like it's the way to go & breastfed both of my kids for nearly 2 years apiece. But, I hate seeing the look on someone's face when she feels like she's losing the giant crunchy mom competition, you know? We all do our best.

    I'd actually thought about a lactation consultant cert at some point. I feel like so many women (esp but not exclusively with hospital births) are given misinformation or not enough information on how to breastfeed.

  8. […] 15 Things New Moms Should Know. | elephant journal This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged adventure, babies, care of moms, children, culture, family, goodnight, green, house, king, love, zombie by admin. Bookmark the permalink. […]

  9. Andréa Balt says:

    Not a mother (yet), but absolutely loved this. I'll make sure I read it again when I'm about to become one.

  10. carine says:

    Excellent! BUT:
    3 does not apply when you have twins. Twin moms need to realize as fast as possible that sleep is highly overrated because they simply don't sleep.
    4 is slightly different too because you need to nod politely at incredible insights into raising-twins-the-ultimate-good-and-only-way lectures from people who did not and do not raise twins.
    ‎8: yes the baby will stop crying, eventually. And that is when the other will start. Invariably. And he will stop crying too. When you need to prepare bottles. (This explains, partly, number 3 about -not- sleeping.)
    12: when you have twins, baby-wearing will KILL your back!
    15: even though it is not all that easy, as you might have gathered by now I can already feel how fast it does go by. And so I am enjoying every waking hour of it – you can imagine how much that is 🙂
    ps: I am the happy and first-time mother at age 44 of (tremendously) cute non-identical twin boys aged 3,5 months.

  11. Yay! Congrats on your twins! I always thought it would be wonderful to have twins and then I had one & thought "how the hell does anyone do this x2?" Big hugs to you & I have a few friends with school age twins–they survived!!

  12. Bookmark it for later!

  13. Ashley says:

    True. Making someone feel guilty about a decision made in the past doesn't help anything. As for lactation consultant certification, I say go for it! The world could certainly use more. It is sad because so many women don't breastfeed due to misinformation… and most of my mother's generation were victims of that. I still hear about women being told outrageous falsehoods about nursing by hospital employees who should really know better.

  14. I talked to one woman who said a nurse at the hospital told her that her baby "didn't like" her milk. Talk about misinformation!

  15. Kristina says:

    Amazing! I alway love reading your posts 🙂

  16. Thanks Kristina!

  17. Rebecca says:

    Thank you! My daughter’s 4 now and it’s certainly been a roller coaster. I love what you shared and wish I’d had this insight then…. I did super mum cleaning, zero self care & went to hell & back to crack breastfeeding (I also intend to become a breast feeding counsellor when my daughter’s a bit older – a Dr told me her mouth was too small to latch on??!!) But then
    at 13 months I went on a Buddhist retreat in the Scottish highlands, immersed myself in meditation & yoga……and aaaaaaah, sooo much better! If the universe ever provides me another chance/child, I’ll definitely be following more of your advice. I’d still go to hell & back to breastfeed though, once cracked it was the most beautiful thing!

  18. Jen says:

    Thanks so much! I'm 3 weeks from being due and am excited/scared/nervous/etc. These are great things to know ahead of time!

  19. […] A few years later, the future Princess Diana (then Lady Spencer) wore a similar skirt and unknowingly posed with the sun behind her; the world saw through it and the photo made the front page of every newspaper in the world. I guess the photo had the same kind of impact on the world that my see-through skirt had on my mother’s mind. […]

  20. Sasha says:

    Thanks Kate, it was wonderful

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  22. […] What makes a good mother can’t fit in a Time magazine article. […]

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  24. […] tends to overshadow other underlying changes. So, we may feel more at ease each day with our new role as a mother, but when it comes to our post-baby body, we can find ourselves ridden with new insecurities. There […]

  25. […] or maybe met him in passing, a stranger. Hadn’t been properly introduced. (Mark that down, parents with small children, no one should make it to twenty-six without hearing Tom Waits. It’s […]

  26. madgrooves says:

    I love everything about this article. I'm a now single mom of 3 girls – Ages 20, 5 &4, and definitely wish more USEFUL, down home motherly advice had been shared with me as an 18 yr. old Mommy. That's when I began reading books…..

  27. […] “Motherhood is mental freeze” is an understatement. Some part of me always knows that Pete is in the house… but I regret that he’s sometimes more like a floor lamp than a family member. My son can’t do a drawing, sing a song, or go on a family adventure without Pete in the picture. But, I’ve not loved my dog back as much as I used to. Okay, for real? He’s been a total pain-in-the-ass. Waking the baby that never slept. Knocking over the toddler. Sneaking out to walk himself while I unload the groceries. Endless barking that wreaks havoc on my nervous system. An extra burden I could barely handle… somehow still needed. […]

  28. Jamie says:

    Ok we get it… You have twins

  29. Rachel Hanberry says:

    I am sitting here breastfeeding my 25 day old newborn baby daughter with tears in my eyes, a lovely piece that I really relate to, love the meditating breastfeeding idea 🙂 thank you

  30. Lokisd says:

    I am sitting here breastfeeding my 25 day old newborn baby daughter with tears in my eyes, a lovely piece that I really relate to, love the meditating breastfeeding idea 🙂 thank you
    Cool perfect-essays