New mums make many similar mistakes when it comes to new motherhood. It’s no wonder why—life as a new mum is hard work and comes with a steep learning curve. Luckily, we are here to help you avoid some of the biggest pitfalls. Here are four common first-time mum mistakes you should avoid.
Not sleeping when the baby sleeps.
“Sleep when the baby sleeps” is one of the most common pieces of advice given to new mothers. It’s also one of the most disliked and for good reason: a baby’s sleeping hours are precious, and mums need to get things done.
Anyone who has ever had a baby knows—new babies sleep a lot, but in small doses. An hour here; two hours there. It’s almost impossible to get anything done when the baby is awake, so mums typically cram an entire day’s work into the window baby sleeps.
As a result, many new mums ignore the advice to “sleep when the baby sleeps,” disregarding it due to its impracticality. I know I sure did. When my oldest was a newborn, I did everything but sleep when he slept.
Part of it was due to the anxiety and adrenaline of having a new life to care for. Knowing and worrying that he could wake at any moment made naps and even falling asleep at night extremely difficult. The other part was, as a huge Type A perfectionist, I made it my job to stay on top of all the things I normally did even while adjusting to the giant life change that came with a new baby.
I wouldn’t recommend that. If you are a brand-new mum, take the time your baby is asleep and rest. Even if you can’t sleep. Even if you spend another part of your day cooking or cleaning or working, just take some time at some point and recharge.
Do it while you can. Do it before your baby grows into a toddler or preschooler who stops napping altogether or you add to your family and suddenly must chase after multiple children throughout the day.
Take the annoying advice and sleep when the baby sleeps.
Not accepting help.
Another first-time mum mistake you should avoid: not accepting help. I had a huge problem letting friends and family help when my first child was a newborn. Though I worked to lessen my need for control over time, it caused a lot of inner stress along the way.
I know it can be difficult to accept help from others. They may do things differently and you may worry you’ll be knocked down in the pecking order, but as a wise friend once told me when I was a first-time mom: You are the mother. Period. That will never, ever change. Your role as mother is solidified and irreplaceable.
Ensure family and friends can assist safely when they ask to help. Let them know your wishes and preferences. Then, let them help.
Not speaking up.
On the flipside, you should also not make the mistake of not speaking up when you have a concern. For example, if you are at a family event and your baby starts crying when Aunt Betty is holding her, don’t be afraid to ask for your baby back. If Aunt Betty tells you she knows what she is doing and refuses to hand baby back, don’t be afraid to re-assert yourself. That is your baby and you know her needs better than anyone.
Not trusting your instincts.
Finally, don’t make the common first-time mum mistake of not trusting your instincts.
If an experienced mum friend gives you advice you don’t feel comfortable following, or you start down a planned path that ends up feeling completely wrong, don’t ignore your gut. Listen to it and trust it without hesitation.
Though your role as mama is new, the love you have for your child and your instincts as a mother run deep. It’s in your blood. It’s in your bones. You’ll know it when you feel it. Don’t ignore it.
Welcome to new motherhood!