Postpartum Advice for New Moms: 9 Things I Wish I’d Known After Giving Birth


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Becoming a new mom isn’t easy, and after serious trial and error, I realized it’s not about being perfect. It’s about survival and doing your best. Here are my 9 postpartum pieces of advice for new moms.

Don’t drown in it.

Every little stage your baby goes through will feel like a riptide, like forever—I don’t know why this happens.

Maybe because for your baby, that week of cluster feeding is forever. Maybe, because your baby is stuck to you like Velcro, and your nipples are chafed, and you’re pretty sure you’re never going to sleep again, you absorb his sense of time.

Maybe it’s some hormone-fueled, survival of the fittest, DNA code to make sure you take your baby’s needs seriously.

But pretty soon, your baby won’t be cluster feeding. He will be teething. Refusing naps. Calling you poopy. You will hear yourself say things like, “Please take your penis out of the windowsill.”

Take each stage seriously, but don’t drown in becoming a mother.

Here’s my list of parental insights and advice to new moms — the ultimate things I wish I had known after I gave birth.

9 Things I Wish I’d Known After Giving Birth (Postpartum advice for new moms)

       1. Love your boobs as they are.

For awhile, your boobs will be out. All. The. Time. Your boobs will see more sunlight than you do. Warm, sticky milk will drip down your belly and you’ll feel like the stump of an ice cream cone in July.

This too shall pass, but for awhile, you’re going to feel like quite the centerfold.

From National Geographic.

2. Do what works. (And don’t care about the judgers.)

Let your baby sleep in a swing or in your bed or his car seat, if that is where he will sleep. You are not a failure if you don’t hand-mash organic baby purees. It is okay to make things easier for yourself. There are very few irreversible decisions regarding sleeping and eating patterns in these first months and years.

Your child will not head off to college still needing to sleep in a lamby swing. (They don’t make them that big—I checked.) He will not be all droopy with malnutrition if he refuses to eat anything but bagels for a week. Or a month.   

3. You are not alone. Seriously!

Other mothers struggle, too. They flicker like candles, awake in the night in a thousand bedrooms, in the past, in the future, right now. They hunch over their babies, nursing. They are limp and worn, like wrung out washcloths.

Remember them when you are up in the night for the fifth time. When your baby won’t stop crying; when you can’t stop crying. You are already a successful mother.

4. Take a time out. Give yourself a self-care break.

Take time to yourself. Often. Beg, barter or pay someone to watch your child. Go to yoga. Go for a walk. Go to a movie. Your baby doesn’t need you present but drained, a mom zombie. A mombie.

See also: How to Maintain Your Yoga Practice After Having a Baby

Your baby needs you to be okay. Your baby needs you to be you. Needing time to yourself does not mean you are trying to get away from your baby.

Okay, so you are totally trying to get away from your baby. That is okay. Find a way to do some of the things that keep you sane and happy. Your baby needs you sane and happy.

5. It’s OK to ask for help.

Ask your partner for help. He/she does not mean to just sit there in a chair playing Mortal Kombat. They will eventually show more interest in the baby, when it can giggle and hug and play tackle football. But for now, they need you to tell them you need help.


When you do, don’t tell them how to care for your child. Or tell them, but then let it go. He/she will probably watch Pulp Fiction with your baby. They will let your precious little one gnaw on pizza crusts like a junkyard dog. Your baby will be okay on both counts.

Then, leave the house.

See also: Are you a slave to attachment parenting?

If you don’t, your partner will rise from their chair like Zeus. They will find you, and they will suggest that the baby needs milk. Even though you just nursed him.

6. Cleaning is overrated.

Your house will still be messy in five years. I am sorry, but it’s true. So when your baby sleeps, take a nap. Read a book. Masturbate. Look at pictures of clean houses on Pinterest. Look at pictures of clean houses on Pinterest while you masturbate.

But don’t clean.

7. Find your tribe.

Find other moms who admit that it’s not all baby powder and bliss. Playdates were not invented to over-schedule and socialize your child. They exist so you can admit that you yelled, “For the love of God, will you just freaking sleep?” at your six-month-old this morning. That you plopped your son in front of Elmo for several hours yesterday afternoon when it rained and rained and rained and he wouldn’t nap. 

8. Be a hater.

And those moms who appear to have it all together? The size six supermoms who appear perky and well-rested? The ones who haul big designer diaper bags brimming with healthy snacks and water and sunscreen and extra outfits and hand sanitizer?

It is okay to wish them small misfortunes, like fecal incontinence or eye herpes.

9. Trust that you are on your way. You are already a great mom.

Listen: I know you feel like you’re doing it all wrong; I know the stakes feel so high and all the other moms look like they know what they’re doing.

Take a break from reading books and blogs about how you’re supposed to be raising your child. Your baby is reasonably clean and growing.

See how he melts into your shoulder and falls asleep?

How when you actually go to the grocery store all by yourself, you find yourself standing in line gently swaying, as if he were still on your body?

And you smile at the mom with a baby about the same age in the next line and your milk lets down and you feel like Hey, I’m missing something, did I forget my keys? 

And then you realize that what is missing is your baby. You are already a successful mother.

You are doing just fine.



Bonus: How to Get Children to Eat Vegetables Using School Gardens:

Relephant Reads: Postpartum Dad Depression.

5 Simple Ways that Even You Can Support a New Mama Today!

Recovering Postpartum: To Yoga or Not to Yoga.

Ayurveda Q&A with Dr. John Douillard: Pregnancy and Postpartum Health


Like elephant family on Facebook.


Ed: Bryonie Wise


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Lynn Shattuck

Lynn Shattuck lives in Portland, Maine with her husband and two young children. She blogs about parenting, imperfection, spirit and truth telling—you can connect with her through her website or find her on Facebook.


206 Responses to “Postpartum Advice for New Moms: 9 Things I Wish I’d Known After Giving Birth”

  1. KMon says:

    I really liked this article and appreciated it because I have a 3 month old… UNTIL I got to the part about saying it's ok to "be a hater" because honestly what does that accomplish? Does it make you feel better to resent someone because they appear to have it all together? I doubt it, I bet it either makes you feel worse or achieves nothing altogether. If you haven't spoken to a mom that looks as though they have it altogether, you might find that they have other issues, like maybe they struggled to get pregnant, or they can't breastfeed, or (the possibilities are endless) …. The point is to be careful and compassionate because you don't know what someone else's journey is about.

  2. Melina says:

    As a holistic nutritionist I cannot help but point out that it actually really really matters what you feed your baby during these early years and I think that if you are going to choose one area to focus less on during these demanding times don't make it nutrition. It is crucial that both parents focus on preconception nutrition if possible and be very informed about what is the best way to feed a baby during their early years in order to allow them to have a chance at having optimal genetic expression, which will help them throughout there life in countless ways. It is probably the best gift that parents can give kids. Check out Sally Fallon's Book about infant nutrition and Dr. Weston Price's book Nutrition and Physical Degeneration to learn about how IMPORTANT this piece is. Eating bagels for a month is really a bad idea for babies. Also, the piece about it being okay to be a hater towards mom's who make a strong effort to do a good job is really immature. Please consider not thinking of your fellow sisters that way. Wishing them ills because they care? Really? I find that sickening. Instead maybe consider admiring and striving to learn from them if they have anything of value to share.

    • Tricia says:

      Let me guess: you’re not a parent, are you? While I understand that an emphasis on nutrition is obviously of utmost importance, it’s not as easy as giving them avocados and beans and calling it a day. You can’t force a child to eat anything; you do, and you’re setting the stage for serious eating issues later in life. While we can try and create meals that are both healthy and kid-friendly, we also have to choose our battles. Should we starve our children if they refuse to eat the healthy options we offer? And in the midst of dealing with yet another food fight, we might have other children needing something or demanding our attention.

      It’s not as cut and dry as you assume it is. While the author may have been exaggerating in her statement about eating bagels for a month? Your idealist attitude isn’t on target either. I find it extremely hard to believe you’re a parent, and if you are, I cringe thinking of the enormous therapy bills you’ll incur when your own kids have to face the inevitable food issues they’ll face living in a home that’s so incredibly food-centric. I have three sons, and I’m currently breastfeeding our youngest. My first weaned at 2.5, my second at 3 while I was pregnant with our third baby. Our youngest is six months, and we introduce foods through baby-led weaning. BOTH my oldest and middle sons started solids around 7-8 months and I began with avocados, beans, kale, etc. We offered ALL healthy foods, as recommended by Nina Planck in her book Real Food for Mother and Baby (I also followed her recommendations while pregnant and in preconception). Would you like to know what my boys want now, after providing them with nothing but healthy options in their infancy and toddlerhood? Pizza, macaroni and cheese, and avocados.

      They’re human beings with free will, and making anything off-limits or taboo just makes them want it that much more. Everything in moderation is my motto, and avoid being gluttonous in any aspect of life. I’m a mother of three, and after 8 years of parenting, I’ve learned that trying to force my child into any mold just makes him scoff at any of my suggestions. So yes, while I agree that nutrition is important, I’m also realistic about it. That’s where you failed in your comment, Melina.

      • Kai says:

        Well said Tricia!
        I am not yet a parent but I am pregnant. I went into pregnancy full of the wonderful intentions to eat an immaculately well balanced diet. However these intentions soon slammed into the semi-truck of reality, which in my case was just eat something that stays down. I imagine that feeding my little one will take on some of the same characteristics. New parents face a lot of external and internal pressures to achieve instant perfection in a very challenging role. These pressures can create a lot of stress that is damaging to health and relationships.

        The authors point is just to chill and not get caught up in meeting relentless expectations. Maybe your baby will love your kale and carrots concoction, or maybe they will toss it across the room and paint the wall with it. Either way, just keep moving forward and remember to enjoy the ride because just like everything in life it passes so quickly, and there is no going back. So whether you are a parent or not this is advice that we can all heed.

        As for the hater comment – it was meant as a joke. I find it funny how folks get all up in arms about "judgement". I don't care who you are, you have inappropriately judged someone – and that is ok! It is a natural side effect of our strange and wonderful natures. Embrace it, laugh and move on.

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