Motherhood is not just a new chapter in a woman’s life but a whole new beginning of something more important. From the moment we conceive, it is no longer just about us. We now have a little one to take care of. Sure we can read a book on how to care for a new-born but every case is different. Being a first-time mom can be joyful yet can also be frustrating. It’s exciting yet also intimidating. There is just so much to learn and so much to do.
Before my son was born, I did some research to prepare myself for my new role. It helped, although I must say there was still so much that I didn’t actually know by the time he came out. So I would like to share some of what I’ve learned as a hands-on first-time mom.
1. Don’t panic.
The first thing that every first-time mom should remember is to never panic when something goes wrong. Just like many first-time moms, I used to panic a lot during the first few days after giving birth. Well, I had reasons to. First, my son had jaundice then his umbilical cord got infected.
Luckily, I was able to rent a bili light so we were able to bring him home the day I checked out of the hospital. And my doctor was so nice that she paid us a visit when I told her about my son’s umbilical cord. She also showed me the proper way of changing diapers and giving him a bath.
2. Prepare yourself for breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding is one of the most important things that you have to do as a mom. You must learn how to properly feed your baby and make him/her burp after. I have read about it too and have seen my sisters do it but what I was not ready for was the pain. Yes, it is excruciatingly painful that I could feel my feet sweat the first time I breastfed my son.
The good news is, you can prepare yourself for it with the help of your husband /partner, ask your doctor about. You should also take vitamins so you would have enough milk by the time the baby comes out.
3. Learn how to budget.
Now that you have a baby, you should learn how to weigh which things you need to buy. Learn the difference between wants and needs. As a mother we always want to give our child the best. Unfortunately, not all of us have the budget to buy everything we want for our child/children.
The needs would include milk, diapers, vaccines, and vitamins. You have to make sure to buy those before anything else. It is better to use hand me down clothes and things like crib and walkers because babies grow up so fast.
4. Save up for emergency.
The main reason for new parents to save up is that because babies easily get sick during the first few months so it would be best to have savings just in case. Aside from hospitalization, there are other emergencies that could happen so it would be better to be always prepared.
5. Get a health insurance.
Aside from saving up for emergencies, one of the most important thing that a new parent must have is a health insurance. I realized how important it is after my son was hospitalized twice when he was four months old. I had no more money left because I have spent them all on medicines before he was admitted to the hospital. Health insurance coverage really helped me a lot with the hospital bills.
6. Take care of yourself.
Taking care of yourself is as important as taking care of your little one. You have to eat healthy especially if you are breastfeeding because your child gets his/her nutrients from you. Aside from physical health, you should also mind your mental health. Postpartum depression (PPD) happens to a lot of women so you don’t have to be ashamed. The common symptoms of PPD includes; extreme sadness, anxiety, crying episodes, irritability and changes in eating or sleeping patterns. If you think you have those symptoms it would be best for you and your family if you seek professional help.
7. Going back to work.
I don’t know about other women but the moment I saw my son I fell in love with him. And from that moment, I felt like everything else have less value to me. I had little sleep because I love watching him sleep. So when the time came for me to get back to work, I missed him a lot all the time.
It was hard to focus on what you are doing when your mind is somewhere else. The best thing to do is to prepare yourself of being away from your baby before going back to work and of course you have to remind yourself that you have to work because you now have more expenses.
8. Live the moment.
As I have mentioned, babies grow up so fast and it would be best if you actually live the moment. Nowadays, people would always have cameras and smart phones with them to capture the moment in pictures. There is nothing wrong with having a souvenir but if you are busy taking pictures on special occasions you actually miss the chance of enjoying the occasion.
If you really want to have pictures during special occasions like your baby’s first birthday, you should just hire a professional photographer or if you don’t have budget for that, ask a family member to take pictures for you.
9. Don’t be so hard on yourself.
There is no such thing as perfect mother. Babies did not come with a manual so most of the time you have to just trust your mother instinct about something that you are not so sure about. If you forgot to do all the chores for the day, it’s okay you can still do that tomorrow.
There are times when we feel like we are being a bad mom but we should just tell ourselves that we are not perfect but it doesn’t mean that we are bad moms.
10. Find a hobby.
When we become mothers, we often focus all our time and energy in taking care of our family and we tend to forget ourselves and we seldom see our friends. For a new mom it feels like stepping into a new world. But just because you can’t go out that much anymore, doesn’t mean that we can no longer give ourselves a break. One therapeutic hobby most women does is gardening, while others try stitching or drawing. As for me, I think I need to learn more about cooking.
Honestly, during the first few months of being a mother, I was not so sure what to do but I was lucky to have a very supportive family who never get tired of helping me in this new stage of my life.
Photo by the author