You can read all the books and blogs in the world, but nothing quite prepares you for motherhood until your bundle of joy arrives.
We've reached out to new mama and Verve India's Divya Mahindra Zapata to compile this great list of advice for first time moms to feel a bit more confident and prepared for motherhood. So go ahead – laugh, cry and find joy in these nuggets of wisdom!
It's ok to have meltdowns and cry. Hormones might drive you crazy in the first fragile months (watch out for those night sweats!), so be kind to yourself and do the best you can. Although it may not seem like it at the time, things do settle down and it does get easier. Hang in there and don’t be afraid to ask for help!
You will have mini contractions after birth. Your uterus shrinks back to size rapidly after childbirth, so be prepared to have mini contractions. You might experience them at their strongest when the nipple is stimulated during breastfeeding, but using a heating pad will help to manage the pain or discomfort caused by the contractions.
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Breastfeeding doesn't aways come easy. It takes patience, practice and persistence. In the early days, it can be challenging dealing with all the issues that could surface – inability to latch, tongue ties, inefficient sucking, the sheer pain, etc – but there’s nothing a bit of time and determination can’t overcome.
Even though breastfeeding feels like your sacred time to bond with the baby it initially requires a lot of physical and emotional support. A breastfeeding pillow (a godsend) or propping yourself up with plenty of regular pillows will help you feel more at ease and in turn, allow your baby to be more comfortable.
Sometimes you can also feel encouraged when your spouse takes an active interest in the breastfeeding process or a close family member is around you to provide motivation.
If you find yourself overwhelmed by it all, get in touch with a lactation specialist.
Chilled cabbage leaves for engorged breasts. Learning to breastfeed is a challenge in itself, but doing it after your milk comes in with engorged rock hard breasts is even tougher. Applying a clean, cool cabbage leaf three times a day to each breast can help relieve engorgement. Alternatively, warm washcloths applied to the breasts after every feed can provide relief and open up any clogged milk ducts.
Be prepared for one long, heavy period after delivery. So buy the mattress protector. Not just for the crib, but for your bed too. Oh and disposable underwear! You can bleed from anywhere between 3 to 10 weeks.
Special care for "down there": The stitches from an episiotomy or a bad tear can hurt. It’s important to rest to heal completely and avoid any kind of heavy lifting for the first 6 weeks. A surgical float, peri bottle and some witch hazel will be your best friend until the perineum heals. Another tip is to freeze your maternity pads before using them for a very soothing, cooling feeling.
You might poop during labor. You are pushing with the same muscles you poop with, so it's totally normal. Don't worry, neither the doctor or nurses in the hospital will let you know or judge you if it happens. On another note, the first time you poop after childbirth can be very painful and it’s a good idea to ask your doctor for a stool softener if he/she hasn’t already prescribed one.
A swollen mass may stick out of your bum. Say hello to postpartum piles! Avoid constipation and stay hydrated. And don't forget to carry a small bottle of coconut oil for emergency situations where you may have to put it back in!
Don’t hesitate to set boundaries. The first three months postpartum or what’s commonly referred to as ‘the fourth trimester’ is tough, so don’t hesitate to give yourself and your new baby some space. There’s always a polite way to explain to friends and family (who are dying to see the baby) that you love them and would like to see them soon, but need time to heal. Don’t pay much attention to cultural or societal pressures at this time.
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Let your spouse inform the family to focus on taking care of you, and that you will take care of the baby. There is nothing more frustrating for a new mom to hear everyone constantly fuss over the baby while they are struggling to recover and need to be taken care of too.
Things don't always go according to plan, and that's OK. Whether it's your delivery, breastfeeding, getting a feed/sleep schedule going or anything else – your baby will get there only when they're ready. When you're struggling to let go of the control freak inside of you, try and remind yourself that it is what it is... but you're ok, and your baby's ok.
And lastly, remember, if it's a boy, when changing diapers, always point it down!
Divya Mahindra Zapata is the Creative Director, Verve India. @divmz