Being a first-time mom can be overwhelming.
It takes time to get to know your baby and what works for you both.
There’s no shame in asking for help.
After all, becoming a mom for the first time is a massive life-changer.
Before your baby’s birth, you might have had a whole plan of how motherhood was going to look for you, and what your baby was going to be like.
But when baby finally arrives and your mama-hood journey begins, all of that planning may well just go out the window.
Coming to grips with “momming” takes a little time (and a lot of patience!).
But don’t fret ‒ as legendary pediatrician Dr. Benjamin Spock said, “Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do.”
So, what are some good things a new mom should know? Keep on reading!
In this article: 📝
- What should a first-time mom know?
- How do first-time mothers feel?
- What do you give a first-time mom?
- Words of wisdom for new parents
What should a first-time mom know?
The list of what all first-time moms should know is probably endless.
What’s important to remember is that everyone’s journey as a new mom will be different, so try not to compare your story to others.
Before the baby arrives
If you’re expecting for the first time ‒ congrats, mama-to-be ‒ here are a few things it can help to know.
1. Babies need surprisingly little.
We’re not saying to skimp on your baby shower registry, but as long as you have the basics (like somewhere for them to sleep, a car seat and stroller, diapers, wipes, and clothes), you can figure the rest out later.
So don’t stress if you haven’t got that teether everyone’s raving about.
You might not even need it.
And when it comes to choosing the best baby essentials for you, think about what features would make the difference for you.
For example, if you’re a city mom after a lightweight, foldable stroller, the Bugaboo Dragonfly is the one for you (compact, easy to carry one-handed, lots of storage space, and full suspension, so baby won’t wake up if there are dips in the sidewalk).
And if you’re looking for baby clothes, but you’re short on space, then a baby clothing subscription might be better for you.
Chances are, no matter what kind of mom you are, there are baby products out there that are practically made for you.
2. One thing you will need lots of is diapers.
Whether you plan on using disposables or cloth diapers, make sure you have a decent stash before the baby arrives.
If you’re using disposables, it’s good to get both newborn and size 1 diapers to cater for any size baby.
If you’re using cloth, nail down your wash routine (and make sure your partner knows how to help, too).
On the hunt for a cloth diaper that’s easy to use without compromising on sustainability? EcoNaps have your back.
3. Visitors can wait.
Those first few hours and days are for you and your baby to bond.
If you don’t feel like having visitors right away, don’t feel bad about keeping them away.
4. Learn about safe milk storage and feeding.
If you’ll be formula-feeding, or bottle-feeding expressed breastmilk, it’s good to know in advance how to prepare and store milk.
That way, there’ll be no confusion when baby’s due their next feed and you haven’t slept in days.
5. Your birth may not go as planned.
And that’s okay! It’s great to go into your birth with an idea of your preferences (like a birth plan), but know that in the heat of the moment, plans might change.
Equally, if your birth does go according to plan, but it still was scary or different from how you imagined, those feelings are valid, too.
6. Arrange for home deliveries.
Getting groceries delivered for the first couple of weeks after your baby is born will feel like a luxury!
You might not feel like carting a newborn around the aisles of your local store to grab your dinner ingredients.
Being a new mother is hard enough, so make life as easy as you can!
7. Car seats can be tricky.
It’s a good idea to get acquainted with your car seat before baby arrives.
So set aside some time to practice getting the car seat in and out of your car ‒ even practice putting something baby-shaped in it, like a doll, or even a bag of flour!
8. Consider a postpartum doula.
And after the baby arrives…
If baby’s in your arms or you’re at the hospital, it’s not too late to learn some first-time mom essentials ‒ here are our top picks from our Peanut mamas:
9. Feeding your newborn is a full-time job.
Whether you’re breastfeeding or formula-feeding, your newborn’s tummy is tiny (about the size of a marble) so feeds are little and often and might truly take up your whole day.
The chores can wait!
10. Breastfeeding can be challenging.
Even if you’ve been to all the classes and read all the books, it may still be difficult, and time-consuming!
Try to seek advice from a doctor or lactation consultant before little issues become big problems.
11. Babies cry.
Usually for some good reason (a dirty diaper, they’re hungry, they’re too hot or cold, or overtired) or sometimes for a reason unknown to anyone but them.
It can be stressful, but taking them outside into the fresh air or swaddling them in a soft wrap may help them settle.
12. Look after yourself.
It may seem like you’re way down the list of priorities, but just making sure you’re drinking plenty of water and eating a (mostly) nutritious diet will help you have the energy to tackle another day!
13. Your baby’s umbilical cord stump will be weird.
For a few days or a couple of weeks, your baby’s umbilical cord stump will need looking after.
Some things people don’t tell you are that it looks kind of gross, you’ll freak out about knocking it off every diaper change, and even with the best intentions, it can get infected.
Ask your doctor for advice if it’s red, smelly, or there’s any strange discharge.
14. There’s other slightly strange newborn baby stuff.
Don’t worry, babies are still adorable even with some scalp flakes and red blotches.
15. Most babies love motion.
We’re talking swaying in a motorized swing, popping them in the carrier (we love this shoulder carrier by MiniMeis for babies from 6 months and up) or stroller for a walk, or going for a drive in the car seat.
If your baby is unsettled, motion might help, and there are probably thousands of other first-time moms trying the same hack at the same time!
You’re not alone!
16. Newborns need lots of sleep.
Don’t expect your little one to make it past about 45 minutes of being awake before they start getting cranky.
Break your day up into teeny newborn-size bites!
17. Baby clothing sizes can be weird.
3 months usually means 0-3 months, 6 months means 3-6 months, 12 months means 9-12 months.
But this isn’t an exact science ‒ just as clothing sizes can be different for adults, they can be for babies, too!
Try a few different onesies from different brands on your newborn to gauge what fits them best.
18. Take time to bathe baby.
That means getting between their toes individually, behind their ears, and in those awkward nooks and crannies.
19. Check for choking hazards.
One tip our Peanut moms use is the toilet roll method.
If it’s small enough to fit through an empty roll of toilet paper, it’s small enough to be a choking hazard.
20. Keep burp cloths everywhere
Wherever you’re going with baby, burp cloths are a must.
21. Take all the photos.
They don’t stay that small for long.
And there’s no such thing as “too many” baby photos.
22. Take baby out as soon as you can.
Even if it’s just for a walk around the block, getting used to getting out and about with baby within their first week can do wonders for you both.
23. Comparison is the thief of joy.
Comparing your version of motherhood to another mama’s won’t do you any favors.
Every baby is different, every mama is different, and every circumstance and situation is different.
24. There’s no shame in asking for help.
From friends, family, health professionals, or other Peanut mamas.
There’s a reason for the saying “it takes a village.”
Whether it’s asking a question (there’s no such thing as a “stupid question” when it comes to motherhood), asking a favor, or even asking for a chat ‒ there’s no shame in asking.
And no one expects you to know everything.
25. Trust your gut.
Yes, you’re a first-time mom, so you might doubt yourself and your instinct, but try not to.
Being a new mom is a tough job, but in all likelihood, you’re doing an amazing job.
And if something doesn’t feel right to you, go with your gut and ask for help.
But remember that every baby is different, so if something feels like it isn’t working, change it up.
How do first-time mothers feel?
It might take time to feel that overwhelming love that everyone goes on and on about.
Don’t worry if it doesn’t happen right away. It’ll come.
But there’s no one way that first-time moms feel ‒ every experience is different.
Anxiety, excitement, fear, confidence, exhausted, stressed, lonely, supported…
Any first-time mom could feel all those in a day!
What do you give a first-time mom?
If you’re wondering what to get a first-time mom, the answer is not the biggest stuffed toy you can find.
What most first-time moms want is help (can you run an errand, provide a meal, or do some chores?), and time ‒ a friendly and non-judgy ear to listen to their highs and lows.
Oh, and coffee.
Words of wisdom for new parents
We asked our Peanut moms what advice and words of wisdom they would give to first-time moms, and boy did they deliver:
- “Embrace every moment as they grow up in a heartbeat.”
- “Your baby will never be this little again.”
- “Let them enjoy all the things you got in trouble for doing as a child.”
- “Stop worrying, stop trying to be perfect, enjoy every moment.”
- “Accepting help does not mean you have failed.”
- “Depression is real, take it easy.”
- “Don’t feel obligated to do anything for people other than you and your baby!”
- “Ignore all the unsolicited advice and do what works for you and your baby.”
- “Holding your baby all day in is NOT spoiling them. They were surrounded by you for their whole life. Give them time to adjust to being put down.”
- “Everything is a phase, the good and bad so embrace the good and breathe through the bad.”
- “Take a class on basic baby things so you are not overwhelmed when they are born.”
- “Breastfeeding isn’t always easy don’t feel like you’re doing anything wrong if your baby doesn’t seem to take to it.”
- “Your boundaries only sound harsh to those that won’t respect them.”
- “Don’t be so hard on yourself.”
- “Postnatal depression is an illness, if you suffer it is NOT YOUR FAULT, but you should ask for help as soon as possible because you deserve it.”
- “It’s OK if you don’t enjoy every minute of it, it doesn’t mean you love your baby less or you’re a bad mother, it just means you’re human.”
- “Sometimes it’s OK to put yourself first.”
- “Being stressed about sleep is worse than just being tired. Stop looking at the clock and find other ways to rest and refresh if you can’t nap: lying down for 10 minutes, getting fresh air, having a cup of tea, etc.”
- “It’s OK to feel like you’ve lost yourself and mourn your old life. You have evolved into someone new and it takes time to adjust.”
- “All babies are different, don’t follow outside advice to T. Find what works for you and your baby.”
- “You will speak loving words to your baby; remember to speak loving words to yourself too.”
- “Talking to other moms helped immensely. We’re all going through similar things.”
- “You are stronger than you feel during tough days.”
- “Take pictures of the both of you together.”
So if you are a first-time mom, know that whatever you’re feeling, you are not alone.
There’s a whole world of moms who have been there who get it.
And while your story is your own, and your journey to mamahood is unique, we’ve always got your back.
You’re doing great, mama.