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Creative Child

How To: 20 Tips for New Moms

(That I Wish I Had Gotten Ahead of Time)
by Mollie Twohig

I remember sorting through our baby shower gifts making a neat list of everything that we had received so that I could send out thank you cards. I had gotten everything I needed from hooded towels to plush, cuddly stuffed animals. I remember chuckling at one little onesie from the Apple store as I showed it to my tech-geek husband and read the words on the front "User Guide Not Included." Ha! Who would need instructions for a chubby-little-cutie-wootie-precious-little-angel-face? Here are some how to tips for after you've had your baby.

I couldn't wait for mine, and I was all set:
Nursery and baby shower. Check.
Childcare classes. Check.
Books on birth, sleep, etc. Check.
Maternity leave (aka: Nice vacation time off while bonding with cooing baby). Check.
Birth plan. Check check check.

Bring it on!

How To Baby Manual Tips
Um, yeah. Let's back up to that little onesie. Its message was all too accurate. Yet, looking back, I wish I had gotten an honest list of the things that you really need to know as a first time mom. So before I send this note off to Apple to include with their onesie (because this information is as valuable yet seemingly as top secret as the next iPhone generation release), I thought I'd share it with you all first:

1. Breastfeeding hurts like a mother, but you can do it. Your nipples will be red, raw, and feel like they are going to fall off for at least the first 2 weeks, but the pain will pass. Know that everyone has different experiences breastfeeding: my milk sprayed out of my boobs like a fire hose (i.e. fast letdown, a term I had of course never heard of), but some moms might need to pump or take an herb called Fenugreek to increase their supply. It's okay! Seek the help of a lactation consultant who can support you, and don't let anyone tell you that you should "switch to the bottle" without giving it a good try! And breast milk isn't just for drinking. Use it for diaper rash, scrapes, and in soothing milk baths for your baby, or coffee (JK on that last one! Just checking if you were with me!).

2. Speaking of breastfeeding, check with your insurance company before investing in a pump. Some cover them 100%.

3. There is a ton of information out there. The Internet can be a blessing and a curse. Remember that generations before us raised children successfully without Googling something. Our parents did a great job without it. Trust your gut. Chances are you're right.

4. Ever have night sweats after a night of boozing before you were preggo? Well, night sweats also happen after you give birth. Mine lasted for about a month post-partum. Don't worry, it's normal!

5. "Colic" can happen, but I prefer to call it "My baby is in pain and won't stop crying because his poor digestive system is immature and has gas worse than my husband after bad Chinese food." In addition to modifying your diet or formula, be prepared to try unconventional soothing methods like running a vacuum cleaner or hair dryer or bouncing on a yoga ball. It might just do the trick.

6. Spit up is normal, even if it's a lot (unless it's truly projectile and flying 4 feet across the room. Then talk to your doctor).

7. During the first months, you'll understand all too well why sleep deprivation is a form of torture. Try to tag team with your partner and don't be ashamed to ask good friends for help so you can get some shuteye.

8. Everything really is a phase. Just when you think you've figured something out, boom, your little one becomes Mariano Rivera and throws a nasty curve ball your way. You'll learn that it's a lot easier to take care of your baby while they are inside you than when they are out.

9. Crying is normal, and it's healthy. Oh, and by the way, I'm not talking about the baby here, but you. Motherhood is tough (you know what), and it will get to you. Take ten long deep breaths and fill your stomach and chest with air before exhaling. Like I said, having a good cry is a release but also be aware of the signs of postpartum depression and make sure your partner knows them too.

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10. Do Kegels before and after delivery. I admit I've wet my pants a few times. Give your pelvic floor muscles time to heal before doing anything intense. If you've delivered vaginally, it might hurt to pee. Use a perineal bottle filled with warm water and spray the area while you pee. Oh and remember Maxi pads? Yeah, you'll need those for weeks after since you'll be bleeding. Stock up.

11. You begin a lifelong war with the worry monster that rears its ugly head at least once a day if not more. Worrying is part of motherhood. It will never end.

12. Showering and eating is a luxury. Spend time doing things you love before your baby is born. You'll get back to them eventually but not for a while.

13. Don't buy too many baby clothes. At the blink of an eye, your baby is on to the next size diaper and has outgrown those adorable new PJs.

14. Capture precious moments with your camera, but don't let them get in the way of seeing what's happening in real time. I'm guilty of posting a lot of pictures to Facebook and Instagram, but I try to remember that it's more important for me to enjoy the moment when my baby rolls his eyes to the back of his head as he's entering a boob milk coma. Check out our digital scrapbooking on Instagram post for more creative ways to document your child's life.

15. Gripe... water stops hiccups immediately.

16. Two words: Amazon Prime.

17. It's okay to have a daily glass of wine while breastfeeding. It's the one thing that has probably kept my hair from falling out even more than it has. That happens too. A lot. Stick it to the wall when showering to prevent clogs in the drain.

18. Even though you miss the freedom of simply walking to the store or park on a whim (and feel guilty for missing that), you learn not to take things for granted, and you're more present in those moments when you have free time.

19. You'll learn to accept that getting one thing done during the day is a huge accomplishment: groceries, calling about an insurance bill, laundry, dishes. Eventually you will get to it. Remember those thank you cards I was planning on sending out promptly? Yup, those were easily four months late, but that's okay.

As for tip #20; I've gotta go and handle a serious diaper explosion. Hey, I'm a mom now. Everything else can wait.

Bio coming soon.

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