How to be the Best New Mom
Or better titled, "The list I wish I had prior to the arrival of my own children" or "planning the unplannable." I dedicate this wellness post to the many amazing women in my life with babies arriving this year. Here's to making every new moment spectacular and give yourself love throughout the process. As for the amazing husbands and dads that make motherhood possible, I hope you share lists among each other as well.
Psychological Wellness: Make a list of all the unique things that make you happy. A conversation with uplifting friends, positive books and magazines, spiritual practices, or writing in a journal. When your stress feels overwhelming, pull out this list and engage in these activities until you feel in a better place in your heart and mind. My brother-in-law gave us the book The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Perfect Marriage as a wedding gift. After 13 years of marriage and two children, it has recently become my new best friend offering a little help on everything!
Spiritual Wellness: The time of year, weather, and mood of your home can have a large impact on your birth and mothering experience. Create music play lists you and your baby can enjoy: I loved classical for resting and the Beatles to lift my spirits. Reaffirm your strength as a new mom and the wonderful benefit your time is to your new baby and your partner just by being present and content in this new lifestyle.
Physical Wellness: In the final month of pregnancy, utilize a pedometer and write down your weekly step totals. After delivery, use these baseline numbers as starting points and add 10% additional steps per week until you bring your activity back up to healthy levels, around 7500-10K steps per week. Your sleep will be altered to 2-4 hours chunks so allow your physical activity to be 5-10 minutes segments. Focus on rebuilding your posture and a strengthening your core (hips, butt, thighs, and back) and carrying your baby on alternate sides of your body to avoid muscle imbalance. Pack your freezer with healthy soups, casseroles, cooked/diced meats and sliced/shredded cheeses, frozen fruits and veggies, and have healthy snacks on hand in the pantry. Practice disease prevention such as hand-washing and vaccinations as recommended by your team of physicians.
Interpersonal/Social Wellness: You never know when an emergency will arise so having a clear contact list at your fingers tips puts you at great ease. Include names and numbers of doctors, family, neighbors, and close friends, emergency room times and locations including nurse hot line and poison control contacts, and insurance numbers, blood type, and allergy information of immediate family members. Then simply add your baby's notes when they arrive, such as eating/sleeping/bathing/diapering routines and favorite songs and soothing techniques. Now send gratitude notes to everyone on your list regularly. Your loved ones can get lost in the process and you can never say "I love you, thank you!" often enough.
Environmental Wellness: Splurge on clothing that makes you feel amazing as your body rapidly changes. Have a cleaning party before and after your baby arrives to feel organized and prepared on both ends. Purchase needed newborn items such as a car seat and sleep space, diapers and first aid, but use your extra time in the first three months to deal with plugs in outlets, gates and bumpers, and safety tools for when your baby is up and walking later in the first year. Allow yourself to be flexible about trying breastfeeding and natural diapers but know formula and disposables were created for a reason. Check out my freebie home schedule to stay on top of your to-dos in the coming months.
Financial Wellness: Review your insurance policy for the different expenses associated with different birth procedures. Know what each of your monthly expenses and assets add up to and avoid the cravings to buy unneeded baby items. If you include fun spending be sure those purchases enhance you and your family, such as cleaning services, healthy meals, active events, and life-improving experiences. If an item does not fit that criteria be glad you saved your money for a larger purpose.
Occupational Wellness: Make a plan for work but allow yourself flexibility and back-up plans if you decide you need additional time healing or being a mom. Have names of people that can fill your roles during your leave and forgive yourself if you are not "super mom" and able to do it all. This time is short: enjoy it in the manner that fits your supportive family and surroundings.
Intellectual Wellness: Career work or not, our adult brain loves new and thought-provoking information. Take an outing to a museum or library, or take a free online class while your baby sleeps most of the first three months. Finding time for your own intellectual stimulation will keep you mentally refreshed and sane.
The Secret Rule of Three
It is a RED FLAG if you find yourself asking for something more than twice, such as:
- If your nurse tells you for the third time to "bear down and push" and you continue to push incorrectly, perhaps it is because your baby's head is backwards and you are about to break your tailbone.
- If your anesthesiologist needs a third attempt to correctly insert your epidural drip, perhaps you need to demand a new anesthesiologist or you may have a spinal leak and need a blood patch to stand vertical again.
- If you request for your spouse to help you for a third time on a diaper, feeding, or screaming event, consider first changing your tone to something a bit more endearing or take care of it yourself... just this once.
The Rule of Three exception is if you experience the loss of a child. Take the loss to care a little more, eat a little better, work a little stronger, and it will become a gift of love to you and the children you are yet to mother. There is no single perfect picture of motherhood. As a dear family friend said, "We didn't adopt. Our child was delivered to the wrong address; it was our job to find them and bring them home." The beauty and diversity of each family makes for unique people and experiences. Be safe and healthy; everything else is about loving your individuality and successfully carving your own path, especially if you find yourself with a bit more time to reach a few personal goals before parenthood.
To all moms reading this now, share your tips.
What increased your success as a new mom?
PS, To all my female friends: thank you for your love and support.
XO - Megan