While there are some new moms who have loads of baby experience—maybe they’ve done a lot of babysitting or have changed the diapers of many nieces and nephews—there are others who come into this whole mothering thing pretty blind.
I’d qualify as the latter. No real babysitting experience. No little nieces or nephews. Nada.
“As soon as the baby arrives, it will just click,” many well-intentioned people assured me. While that was true to a certain extent, there were other things that I felt I was supposed to “just know” that I most certainly didn’t…at least not right away.
3 Things New Moms Are Supposed to Just Know…That I Didn’t Tweet this!
1. How to breastfeed.
Lots of women think that because nursing is such a natural way to feed your child, it’s also going to come naturally. Unfortunately for many (or even most) new moms that’s not the case. There’s usually a significant learning curve for both mother and baby.
When I was pregnant I took a three-hour breastfeeding class offered through my hospital, which was incredibly helpful. I also never hesitated to call a lactation consultant when I needed to.
Now whenever I’m chatting with a mom-to-be and the subject turns to breastfeeding, I emphasize that it might not come as naturally as they expect, but that there are many resources available to help.
2. What the baby’s cries mean.
Before having kids did you know that babies have particular cries depending on what they need? I did not.
Turns out that the “I’m hungry!” cry sounds a bit different from the “I’m tired” cry, which sounds slightly different from the “I’m overstimulated!” cry. And it’s not always immediately apparent which is which.
My advice to new moms is not to worry if you don’t know exactly what your baby’s cries mean right away. That will come as you get to know your baby better and better. Eventually I became an expert at distinguishing my son’s cries from one another, but it took some time.
3. Safety precautions.
You would think that something as basic as keeping your baby safe would be purely instinctual. But the reality is that safety recommendations change quite frequently; what was considered safe when I was a baby is definitely not considered safe now.
Exhibit A: Sleep recommendations. It wasn’t until the 1990s that everyone learned the importance of putting babies to sleep on their backs, not their tummies. And the debate about the safety of crib bumpers rages on.
The point is, when it comes to a baby’s safety, it’s worth doing your research instead of assuming you will “just know.”
In the end, I believe that maternal instincts are very, very real, but that doesn’t mean everything will come naturally. There’s no shame in reaching out for information and support in those areas where we aren’t already experienced or knowledgeable.