There’s no doubt about it, being a new mom is hard work. Regardless of whether it’s baby number one or baby number five, each time you add a new babe to your family, the new mom cycle kicks in again.
Each addition brings new challenges, but also new confidence. It’s always easier looking back with hindsight, and I know each time I was a ‘new mom’ I learnt more things I wish I knew the first time around.
And I assure you, I made mistakes, many of them. We all do. But that’s part of motherhood.
Which is why I wanted to share these mistakes with you. Because once I realised I was making them, I did what I could to rectify the situation and far out, it made new Mama life so much easier.
So if you’re making any of these mistakes, it’s okay, it’s not the end of the world, you can make adjustments, you can make things work for you, and you can make this life as a new mom easier for yourself.
1 – Trying To Please Everyone Else
It feels weird to even write it, but as a new mom, I kind of felt like I was everyone else’s property. Like I had an obligation to prove that I could handle this new mom life and that I could make it look effortless.
Let me tell you, making it look effortless took far more effort than it would have just doing what I needed to do.
When I had my son it was a little different of a challenge, he was in NICU and while I was very strict on who was able to visit him in hospital (not many people at all), I felt like I had to make time for everyone else, especially if they wanted to see me. Like they had made the effort to come and see me so I should make the effort to put my plans aside to see them.
This took me away from the hospital and away from my son.
When I had my baby girl, while I was at home the whole time, I found myself feeling like I needed to make time for those who made time for me, regardless of what I wanted or needed.
Once I realised that’s what I was doing, I pulled back and started saying no more, cancelling plans when I needed to, and just putting myself, our baby, and our family first.
2 – Trying To Feed On A Schedule
I’ll be the first to admit, as a new mom, I had NO IDEA. Honestly, none. I was firmly in the camp of ‘being a mom comes naturally’ and figured I’d just go with the flow and work it out as I went along.
Someone I knew had spoken about how she had her baby on a schedule from day 1, including breastfeeding, and I just figured this was the way to go. Plus, what feeds my son was allowed to have in NICU (limited intake allowed for him) were schedules, so it kind of made sense. So, when we left NICU, we just stuck to our 4 hourly feeds…
Such a mistake.
My milk supply suffered, my confidence suffered, my son suffered, I seriously thought I was doing everything wrong, but really it was the schedule that was wrong.
As soon as I started feeding him when he was showing signs of being hungry, everything just flowed. I stopped looking at the clock and timing how long he was feeding for or when his last feed was, and just enjoyed the process.
3 – Stressing About Creating ‘Bad Habits’
My son wasn’t what you’d call a ‘sleeper’, so we did whatever we could to keep him settled and help him sleep. Often this meant rocking him to sleep or nursing him to sleep.
I lost count of the number of people who told me I was creating bad habits or ‘making a rod for my own back’. They would say that he’d never be able to go to sleep on his own and all kinds of other scaremongering things that made me feel like I was again failing as a mother.
But, when my son reached around 18 months he started asking to go to bed at night (before his bedtime) and by two years old he was falling asleep by himself in his bedroom. Clearly I had ruined him.
The biggest thing I’ve learnt with babies and toddlers is that no routine and no ‘habit’ lasts for long. Seriously. None of them. You can go mad trying to fix a habit, but they will change themselves soon enough.
You just have to go with what’s happening, enjoy the good times and remind yourself when your baby is waking 5 times a night, that it won’t last forever.
4 – Not Resting Enough
Sleep is important. Oh gosh, it’s so important. And you know what? There’s no medal for getting through the day without a nap. There’s no medal for getting all the washing done or all the housework done while the baby sleeps. No one actually cares. But you, oh Mama, you need to rest.
But I’m sure you know that. And believe me when I say I used to just about scream anytime someone told me to sleep when the baby sleeps (my baby doesn’t sleep people!!!). In which case, the following point (#5) is important for you.
But for those who do have a baby that has a solid sleep, please, for the love of all things wonderful, sleep, nap, rest, binge watch Netflix, cancel plans, say no, snuggle your babe all day in bed… do whatever it is you need to do to rest mama.
Your fourth trimester is so darn important, honour it and yourself by giving yourself the space and the rest you need.
5 – Not Asking For Help
Remember the little rant I had above about the fact that there is no medal…? Yeah, well there’s no medal for doing it all on your own either.
I subconsciously thought that if I asked for help, I was on some level saying that I couldn’t cope with being a mother. That I wasn’t good enough or that I wasn’t able to ‘cut it’.
But the truth is, we all need help.
Whether that help comes in the form of someone cooking for you, or getting a cleaner to come in and do a few hours around the house, or getting your husband to take over more chores and more mental load, or having a friend run errands, or come and talk to you about something that isn’t baby poop related…
Whatever help looks like for you, it’s okay to get it. In fact, I insist you do.
6 – Not Setting Visitor Rules
Despite what some people may think, you and your baby are not everyone else’s entertainment – no one has ‘the right’ to come and visit you, you don’t owe anyone anything…
Which is why visitor rules are important.
Some ideas for visitor rules include set times to visit (and set durations), that they must wash their hands before touching the baby, that they can’t cuddle the baby, that they cannot come over if they have been or have been near anyone that is sick, that they must be up to date with their vaccinations, that they must bring food (my fave rule), or anything else that you see fit.
We have a whole article dedicated how to handle visitors with a newborn that can help even more with this.
7 – I Didn’t Trust My Instincts
Knowing what to do as a new mom is very different from your inbuilt Mama instinct. Your instinct is that feeling you get, that overwhelming urge to pick up your baby when they’re crying, that feeling you get when something isn’t quite right, that thing that wakes you in the night before your baby starts crying…
Generally speaking, we are taught to silence that instinct. We are told that babies ‘should’ be doing certain things, or that we should put our babies down to sleep in their bassinets and not on us, that picking them up too much will ‘spoil’ them (FYI, you cannot spoil a baby).
There are so many things that happen that teach us to silence our instinct, which is why it is so important to pay attention to yours.
Pay attention to the feeling you have, and if you want things to be a certain way, stand up for them. Surround yourself with people who SUPPORT your goals, not just tolerate them.
Your instincts are important, they are biological and you have them for a reason. Pay attention to them.
While we all make mistakes as new moms, these are just some of the ones I hope no other Mama has to make. I hope that you can learn from my mistakes so your introduction to motherhood is a little smoother, a little easier and a little more enjoyable than mine was.