You’ve planned this for years, and now, your little one is finally due to arrive — and you’re a huge bundle of nerves. Are you really ready? What if you don’t know what to do, or you mess up your kid permanently? What if your baby gets sick, you struggle to breastfeed, or your relationship suffers?
It’s normal to worry as a first-time mom, but billions of women have pulled it off before you, and you will too. Here’s what you need to know about the top worries faced by new moms.
Breastfeeding or Formula?
Breast is best, right? There are real benefits to breastfeeding, but that doesn’t make formula the bad guy. Whether you breastfeed exclusively, stick to formula, or use a combination of the two, your baby will have her nutritional needs met.
There are also real downsides to exclusive breastfeeding, like the time it takes and how that affects women’s ability to return to work. A good breast pump — hands-free if possible — makes breastfeeding far more manageable by letting you pump whenever, wherever and share feeding duties with a partner. When you are nursing, stay comfortable with a breastfeeding bra (look for one that’s wireless and super stretchy for maximum comfort), a nursing pillow, and plenty of nursing pads and balm.
If you go the formula route, keep in mind that while all formula has to meet federal nutrient requirements, each formula is different. Read the labels and do your research.
Sleeping (or Not) with Baby
Sleepless nights are a rite of passage for new parents, but how much sleep loss is too much?
It might take years before you enjoy an uninterrupted eight hours. In the meantime, it’s important to get as much rest as you can. Running on fewer than five hours of sleep makes it harder to lose the baby weight, increases your risk of a car accident, and tanks your moods and focus.
Pump before bed so you can share nighttime feeding duties, nap — or at least lay down — when the baby naps, and when you’re restless in the middle of the night, do something relaxing like reading a book rather than scrolling social media or watching TV. If catching an extra hour of sleep means leaving the dirty dishes, do it. The dishes will be there later, but you can’t make up for lost sleep.
Feeling Like Yourself Again
After being flung from nine months of pregnancy into a touched-out new mom, it can start to feel like your body isn’t your own anymore. Will you ever feel like yourself again, or is this it?
You may never feel like you did in the pre-baby years, but you can gain a sense of confidence in the new you. However, it takes work to maintain an identity for yourself separate from motherhood. Find ways to incorporate the things you love into your new life, even if that means renting a film instead of heading to the theater or video chatting with friends rather than hitting happy hour.
Most importantly, don’t try to do it all alone. Leave the baby home with your spouse while you get a pedicure, hire a babysitter for date night, and be honest when friends and family ask what they can do to help. It may feel awkward asking a friend to throw a load of laundry in the wash, but they wouldn’t offer if they didn’t want to.
It’s tough not to worry as a first-time mom, even when you know your fears aren’t rational. Know that, with time, you’ll get the hang of motherhood and start feeling confident in your new role. However, if stress, fear, or anxiety are getting in the way of your ability to care for and bond with your new baby, talk to your doctor. These could be signs of postpartum depression or anxiety, and while it may seem impossible now, you can feel better with the right help.
Image via Unsplash
About the author: Alexis Hall is a proud single mom to three kids and the founder of Single Parent, a website that provides support and advice for the many families out there with only one parent in the household. She has been single since Julian, her youngest child, was born four years ago - and she loves it.