The One Piece of Advice For Surviving the First Year
By Ryann Donahoe, Lifestyle Blogger and Stay-At-Home Mom
Whether you’ve just had your first, third, or even fifth child, you’ll find that people love to give all sorts of parenting advice, from the man in line behind you at the post office to the woman ringing you up at the grocery store to your co-worker (who doesn’t even have children!). Every public outing will expose you to countless comments from friends, relatives, and strangers about what they did that “worked.” This can be so overwhelming for anyone with a newborn. As a mom of four I’m here to provide a little perspective and remind you that all babies are different. Every pregnancy is different, and everyone’s postpartum months are too. You will struggle with different issues each time and question yourself in different ways.
I successfully breastfed my first two babies for nearly a year each. There was no doubt in my mind that I’d also exclusively breastfeed my third. But around the two-month mark, we started having issues and we both struggled just to breastfeed for six months. It became abundantly clear that all of my journeys would be different, and not just as far as breastfeeding was concerned. What worked the first time might not work the second time; and what worked for someone else might not work for you and your baby. But that’s okay, because this is your journey.
I also found it hard to accept help once each of my babies was older than six weeks. Many of us have this natural mama instinct to want to do it all ourselves. If someone offered to bring us dinner I would feel guilty—my baby is almost two months old, I should be capable of making my family dinner again, right? This is a perfect example of one our biggest misconceptions about the postpartum period. Moms tend to feel that once our babies get to a certain age, we should be able to “do it all” again. This is the farthest thing from the truth. You should never feel guilty about getting help, especially during the first year. Let someone make you dinner; let them babysit so you can get a few extra hours of sleep or a shower. The first year is always the most challenging—getting help from others will make it easier for you. Plan an afternoon out of the house doing something you love, go on a date night with your partner, and by all means don’t feel guilty if a friend wants to come over and help you fold the laundry.
The best advice for surviving the first year of motherhood is simpler than we think: take the help and do something that makes you happier every now and again. Take it from me, it will make you a better mama!