I knew there were going to be challenges as a new mom. I knew I would be changing diapers and feeding my baby. I knew there would be a long road ahead of me raising a child, teaching them good and bad, daily tasks, and life lessons.
When I was pregnant I started researching what to expect being a new mom. I never had any younger siblings or cousins that I had to look after. I remember I tried babysitting once and then realized it just wasn’t for me. So I had never been around kids or babies growing up.
All the research in the world couldn’t prepare me for what being a mom is actually like. There were several things that I just didn’t expect as a new mom.
#1 Breastfeeding is not easy
For some reason I had an image imprinted in my head of a serene-looking scene of mother and baby, baby nursing with eyes closed, mother smiling down at baby. In that scene the act of breastfeeding looks so simple and natural.
When they brought my baby girl to me after birth, the nurse easily put her on my chest. She put her onto my breast and she started to feed. The sensation was strange, nothing I have felt before. It didn’t hurt, it was just weird. It felt good to provide for my baby, having her that close to me, I felt a wave of love wash over me. This isn’t that bad I thought.
Fast forward two days. Two nights I have been awake all night feeding my baby. She needs to feed every two hours they said from the time she starts. Well, what if feeding takes an hour and a half? Then I only get a 30 minute break and I need to start again.
A 30 minute break was more than I could ask for as sometimes my baby would just go from one breast to the other still hungry. I wasn’t producing milk yet, only colostrum, a think honey-like substance that comes for the first 3-5 days before the milk comes in. By the 3rd day, the pain was so bad I wanted to give up.
Every time she latched on, pain shot through my body. My nipples became cracked and blistered. I cringed putting her to them. It felt like my nipples were being sawed off. My natural reflex was to pull her away when she wasn’t latched right and she started biting down with her gums, making it even worse.
While the hospital was good in every other aspect, they didn’t send in a lactation consultant until the third day as I was about to leave the hospital. She showed me how to properly latch the baby on, how to hold her correctly, and even how to use the manual breast pump.
I highly recommend making sure that the lactation consultant visits you the first day with baby. If I had known all that before, it would have been a lot easier.
What I recommend for smoother sailing:
- Know that it hurts but it is worth it to give her that nutrition
- Don’t expect to get sleep at night, sleep when baby sleeps
- See the lactation consultant the very first day so they can teach you how to properly latch the baby on and hold her correctly
- Ask for an electric breast pump and have the consultant teach you how to use it
- Start pumping immediately to bring in the milk fast
#2 You will be sore
In addition to the stinging pain in my nipples, I didn’t expect that I would also feel like I was hit by a truck.
The nurse came in every few hours and asked my pain level, then gave me pain medication, every 4 hours with one, every 6 hours with the stronger one. I didn’t notice too much pain with my stay at the hospital, but after I got home and off their routine pain regimen, I felt it.
The next two weeks I felt cramps from breastfeeding and a tightening sensation down there which was painful at times. I just expected that everything was returning to normal and by the third week the pain subsided.
The hospital should give you a prescription for pain medication. I recommend filling it immediately.
#3 Baby Throws Up A Lot
I remember my first reaction to my baby throwing up on me. It caught me off guard and I stood in shock as it just kept coming. It rolled off the burp blanket onto my shirt and my pants and my slippers and the floor, plus all over baby.
She had not thrown up at all in the hospital the first few days. But about a week later, I was wondering if she had even eaten that much to it throw up. Where was it coming from?
It wasn’t pleasant.
Then immediately baby is asking me to feed her again. Is this a trick? I remember thinking. Should I give her more? What if she throws that up?
Sometimes it was a trick. I gave her more and she threw that right back up. Then she wanted more. Fool me once baby, shame on you. Fool me twice…
Apparently that’s just what babies do sometimes. Now I’ve gotten better at not overfeeding her, making sure she burps, and not laying her on her back right after a feeding. These things have helped.
I’ve learned to read her signals a little better too and now can almost sense when she is going to throw up. If I see it, I’ll just run to the bathroom and stand over the tub.
#4 Being a Mom is Time Consuming
Seeing all these mom blogs and finding out that newborns sleep for 16-20 hours a day, I planned on painting my nails, organizing the garage, trying out some new recipes. I thought, I’ll have plenty of time to myself.
This was definitely not the case.
Being a mom is a full time job. Not only are you feeding, burping, and changing your new baby, but you also take on all the responsibilities around the house such as the laundry, cleaning, and cooking. If you are breastfeeding you are also pumping on your down time. It takes some time to get adapted to this new mom and housekeeper life.
The only thing I remember having time for was catching up on my shows because I could do that while pumping or feeding. It takes some time but eventually you establish a routine and with that you know how much time you have in between tasks.
Now, a month later, I can finally squeeze in some me time.
#5 Formula is expensive and it goes super fast
When I ran out of the first can of formula I thought, how long has it been since I opened this? I could have sworn I just opened that can a day or two ago. The next can of formula I had to monitor my use. I was shocked when it had only been 2 and a half days until it was completely gone.
What surprised me even more was finding the formula in the grocery store and looking at the price. $18 for the small can, $25 for the big one! Okay, I thought, maybe I just had the small one, the large would should last longer.
4 days later I am again in shock that the 22oz can is finished. Wow. Whoever is putting this stuff out is making a ton of money.
So this is why some mothers opt for breastfeeding…
I had already started supplementing (and I admit mainly using) formula, as it was too convenient to just make up a bottle and have her chug it down in 5 minutes (as opposed to sitting with her for 20 minutes on each breast and still be hungry).
So I did my research. I found Enfamil Newborn Formula on Amazon in a pack of 6 for a little over $100. That was the cheapest bulk formula I could find.
I’ve been pretty cautious on how much I’m using. I cringe every time I need to pour old formula down the drain. I figure the pack of 6 should last me at least 3 weeks. After 6 months she will be eating baby food so I’ll probably need to spend about $800 on formula total.
Last time I was at the pediatrician, they threw me a few small cans. I’ll have to see what else I can get out of them on the next visit.
I’m sure that I will discover many more things that I just didn’t expect as a new mom. These are just a few of the immediate ones. The important thing to remember is that each experience you are learning from. Overcoming these challenges is what makes you a great Mom.