March 27, 2018
You are finally home after giving birth to your new baby. You feel a sense of relief, yet so much anxiety and exhaustion. You look down at your baby and can’t imagine that anything in this world could be more perfect. You analyze them. You stare in awe. Yes !You made this little human and he/she is all yours! The thought of that can be both terrifying and exciting! You want to do everything right…you read books, ask questions…You vow to never do this or that. You will be the perfect parent. I see you in the office. I see the worried look on your face. I want to tell you it’s going to be okay. I want to tell you to relax and enjoy these moments because they are fleeting. You will barely remember how you worried about pee and poop and how exhausted you truly felt. The first three months will seem like a blur. So I tell parents to do their best. The only thing you really need to do is “survive” these first three months. Do your best, respond when your baby cries, go through your list (is he/she hungry? dirty? tired? not feeling well?) If all the answers are no then maybe your baby is just having a bad day. We all do. Don’t tell yourself that you are a bad mom. Don’t tell yourself that you can’t do this. YOU CAN. Your baby needs your love and attention. Your baby needs YOU. So the best advice I have for a new mom is…Don’t forget to take care of YOU too. Take a shower every day, go for a walk, sleep when you can, get out of your pajamas, eat healthy, drink lots of water, if someone offers to help you say YES! Your baby will be fine for a few minutes while you shower even if your spouse, mother, mother-in-law or friend doesn’t hold the baby as perfectly as you do. Trust me, the baby will be fine. If you want to breast feed, do it. Go all in and give it a good chance. You really get one chance to really try and that’s right after your baby is born. It doesn’t take that long for your milk to stop coming if you don’t. The nursing baby is the best way for you to produce more milk. If you decide that breast feeding isn’t for you, or if you can not breast feed for any reason please do not tell yourself that you are a bad mom. We are lucky to have formulas that can also provide nourishment to your baby. It’s okay.
When you are having a bad day, remember all new moms have days like this too. You are not alone. Take a few deep breaths and admire the perfection that is your baby. Do something special for yourself every day. Even if it is as simple as talking to a friend or taking a bath. It matters. YOU matter.
-Elizabeth Vainder, M.D., F.A.A.P