I don’t know about you, but everyone around me seems to be pregnant recently, and I started thinking about those days when I was pregnant, and unsure about this whole motherhood thing. I went around asking some of the mums I know for advice or tips that they would give mums-to-be, and compiled the list here.
Whether you just found out about your pregnancy, or just felt the baby’s first kick, or even if your little one is due any day now, I’m sure it must be a very exciting period for you. You might be feeling overwhelmed, and have absolutely no clue about what to expect, because this is a totally new experience. Honestly, nothing you do will truly be able to prepare you for this journey called motherhood, but that’s not to say that you should do absolutely nothing. If anything, you should try to prepare yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally, as best as you can now, because trust us, it’s not going to be easy.
During my confinement, I got frustrated when Noah refused to nap, no matter what I did. My confinement lady told me, “Not every day will be a good day. There will be tough days, when nothing seems to go right, but there will also be good days. Take one day at a time.” I think that was one of the wisest pieces of advice I’ve ever received, and now, I’m passing it on to you as well. There were days when I literally watched the clock, trying to will time to pass faster, so that C would come home and help me with Noah. There were also days when Noah was the perfect baby, taking long naps, and being extra cheerful when he was awake. Slowly but surely, the good days outnumbered the bad ones. Look forward to that, because it WILL happen.
There is no hard and fast rule as to how to raise your child, because every child is different. Many mums have shared bits of advice below, and you’ll notice that some may be contradictory, so do whatever suits you best. Breastfeeding is one of the top issues that the mums have weighed in on, and rightly so, because it’s one of the toughest things we’ve ever had to do. Whether you choose to breastfeed exclusively, or use formula milk right from the start, it honestly doesn’t matter. Do whatever you’re comfortable with, and don’t let anyone make you feel like you’re not a good mum. YOU are the best mum for your child, and don’t you ever forget that.
With love, Adeline, mum to Noah (on behalf of all the mums below)
“Don’t trust Google – go with your Mama’s instinct and listen to your PD! And just remember that a happy Mama = happy Baby so don’t let yourself get shamed or bullied into doing something that makes you miserable (breastfeeding, for example). Above all, keep calm and enjoy your baby – for those newborn months will just fly by!” – Little Bow Girl, mum to Sophie-Rose
“Take it easy on yourself. Don’t beat yourself up if you have a lousy day (or week, or month) as a mum. If everything else fails, find the funny. Everyone has a sense of humor, and there is no time like parenthood to get it out and use it on the daily. Open your eyes to the glorious funny that presents itself to you. Not everything is life or death, not every mistake you make is going to send your kid into a downward Miley Cyrus-spiral.” – Danessa, mum to Yasmin, Prayerfull Mum
“Life’s a b****, but when you see those priceless smiles, all weariness disappears! Look at things from a different perspective. If the kid ain’t sleeping through the night, it might be that he is an intelligent being trying to bond more with you. In life, nothing’s perfect, so don’t be a perfectionist. Give yourself a break and enjoy those moments!” – Janice, mum to Big and Small K, Mish.Mash.Mess
“The whole world says “Breast is Best” but nobody ever tells you how difficult breastfeeding can be to a new mom!
There can be sore and cracked nipples, frustrated babies who cannot suckle well, milk production that cannot meet the demands of your little chomper, notions of giving up exclusive breastfeeding and sky-diving into post-natal depressions. I felt cheated from all the peaceful images of breastfeeding when I had to go through all of the above. That said, I braved through them and breastfed both children exclusively but not without tears, fears and determination. When mother and child finally conquer all these negativities, the result is truly beautiful.
At the end of the day, never doubt yourself for what you can or cannot give. Choose your battles wisely. Love your child BUT you must first love yourself. Formula Milk Is Not Poison.
PS. I’ve compiled a list of advice and stories on breastfeeding from Muslim moms, first time moms, and moms living in a foreign country with no support which will inspire clueless first-time moms in their journey. Read the post here.” – May, an idealistic first-time mom to a practical second-time mom of Ewan and Faye, A Million Little Echoes
“Don’t let anyone tell you what you should or should not be doing with your baby or child. We all make mistakes and learn, ultimately you would rather be making your own mistakes than someone else’s mistakes because you listened to them over your mummy’s instinct. Don’t let society dictate what is perceived as the right thing or the best thing (eg. Breastfeeding or not going to a childcare or letting your kid wear prescription glasses or letting your child go for certain treatments etc). You are their mother and you know what’s best for them in your circumstances. We all just do the best for our kids in the way we know how. Hang in there!” – Rachael, mum to Jah and Bella, JahBella
“1. Newborn aren’t cute. They look mostly like Yoda from Star Wars. Don’t be alarmed. 2. Ask for help. It is ok, you don’t have to be a supermom. Hence the saying ‘It takes a village to raise a child.’ 3. Every once in a while, stop and really look at your child. These memories are precious, for your child is only a baby for 12 months.” – Michelle, the chill mom to Lauren and Georgia.
“Motherhood is not a competition with the next mum. Most of the time, we beat ourselves up too hard – breastfeeding, baby’s diet, not playing sensory games, no flashcards, etc. The list is endless. At the end of day, it’s about embracing the journey and experiences because they will be like no other. There will be good days and horrible times, but mostly, remind yourself that “this too shall pass”. Mummy’s guilt naturally occurs more often than daddy’s guilt. There may be times you feel like your sanity is slipping away… take a breather and remember you’re only human. Life is about finding that balance which works for you. Learn to enjoy your new role and you’d be surprised with the new life lessons it brings, for they help enrich and grow us as individuals too. And this post would help add a lighter note to most of the things to come! Communication with the husband is important, as many a times, we forget that we were a couple before the little one came along. Keep positive – it’s all in the mind!” – Dee, mum to Vera, The Hooting Post
“Take every parenting article with a pinch of salt. Don’t let it dictate how you should be as a mother. If it doesn’t sit well with you, throw it out. Your sanity is more important than what others think of you!
Also, trust your husband. Allow him to be involved from the very day you find out you’re pregnant. The benefit of such trust will only multiply in your good favor!” – Mabel, mum to Blake and Nakayla, Amazingly Still
“There is no one perfect way of parenting kids, as the dynamics of each family is different. YOu will know how to handle each bit when you get there. Read other mums’ motherhood experiences here.” – Dominique, mum of three kids, Dominique’s Desk
“Dont be afraid to fall, and don’t be afraid of letting your kid fall. Every path, whether it’s for a mum or for a kid, is filled with ups and downs. It’s okay to fall, make mistakes, get hurt and learn to pick yourself up again. You and your kid will only be stronger and tougher.” – Winnie, mum to EV and AA, ToddlyMummy
“Every baby is different. Do not worry when advice from book and friends do not work. Follow your mummy instincts. It’s alright to feel lousy and frustrated when you’re with baby 24-7, and clueless most of the time, we all learn on this journey in motherhood. Take short breaks away from baby if you are able to entrust him to a reliable caretaker, you will feel much better and can care for him much better after, and there’s no need to feel guilty about it.” – Cheryl, mum to Aiden and Ava, Incy Wincy Spider
“Statistics show that the first year after a baby is born are turbulent times for a marriage, “more than 80 percent of couples experience a huge drop in marital quality during the transition to parenthood”, but once you move past that hurdle, the bond you share as a couple will be stronger than ever. PS. I wrote that tip in a post – Why Kids are Bad for your Marriage. Check it out!” – Ed, mum of three, MummyEd
“There is no “seize the day” in motherhood and more often than not you just feel like you want the day to be over. Don’t hype yourself up, just roll with it, even if it has to be survival mode all the time. My mantra is “this too shall pass”!” – Elizabeth, mum of three, Motherkao
“To prepare for the pregnancy and arrival of your baby read books like “What to Expect When You Are Expecting” and sign up for updates at BabyCenter. Sign up for pre-natal classes with your husband to learn how to care for the baby.
It can be overwhelming when the baby arrives, but learn to take things one step at a time. Your husband’s care and support are very important during pregnancy and after the arrival of the baby.” – Dee, mum to Dot and Daniel, Prune+Nurture
“Make friends with those who have the same parenting beliefs as you. Also, motherhood is not a competition so it doesn’t matter who’s breastfed longer, who lost weight first, who’s pregnant again earlier, and who’s got the best stroller. Take lots of photos, and then some more, of your kids and you with them because they grow so so so fast.” – Adora, mum to Poppy and Calla, The Gingerbread Mum
“There is no way you can be 100% well prepared, and ready to be a mum, no matter how many books you read, how many parenting websites you have visited, how many experienced mums you have talked to, and how much pre-natal courses you have attended. It’s a continuous learning process, and you need to be “trained” via on-the-job training, with no SOPs to follow. Keep an open mind, be humble to learn from others, see things from different perspectives, make changes along the way, and most importantly, trust yourself, because you are the best mum to your child and no one else!” – Mrs Kam, mum to Hao Re and Xi Yu, The Kam Family
“A lot of people around you will tell you what to do, and what not to do. They are well-intentioned, but not all of them work, because your baby is different. You are different. Listen, but you don’t have to follow anything if you aren’t comfortable. And trust me, it will get better and better.” – Madeline, mum to Oliver, Oliver Smile
“They say it takes a village to raise a child. It’s true, you are not alone in this motherhood journey. Get all the help you can get from your family. Also get to know one or two mature Mommies who are more experienced, who will listen to your woes and provide you with support. Distance yourself from those that don’t fit, they only make you more miserable.” – Jacqeline, mum of 3, The Little Mom
Some of the mums I’ve gotten to know from Dayre also shared some advice.
“Not having adequate breast milk or unable to latch? Don’t let that or the comments of others get to you. It’s not the end of the world and there are dozens of other ways to bond and love.” – From Emptypool, a mum who couldn’t do “total breastfeeding” and stopped pumping after four months. I have a wonderful relationship with my boy because it wasn’t that stressful once I left the breastfeeding out of our relationship.
“My advice is to listen to no advice, especially those that are unsolicited. Read up more, and widen your knowledge before you pop, so that you can make informed decisions later. Google helps if you have a good mind-filtering system. The book “What to Expect when You’re Expecting” helped me a great deal too!” – Mommel
“Don’t sweat the small stuff. Newborn days are the worst because of breastfeeding and sleep issues, but trust us, it gets better!” – Pingu78
“Be open to suggestions, read the books as a guide, and more importantly, trust your instincts.” – Whitecat
“Take one day at a time. One day, you’ll find yourself saying, ‘It’s not that tough after all.'” – Cikumuffin
“Though there are a lot of anxieties especially during pregnancy, try your best to enjoy the journey and be happy, as happy preggy mummy = cheerful baby. If mummy is constantly worried or unhappy, baby can feel it. True story!” – Sumikojoy
“1. Breastfeeding and breastmilk are not the be all and end all. 2. Co-sleeping or cry-it-out: each style works for different babies and parents. 3. Tell well-meaning relatives to leave you and baby alone for the first two weeks (or a month) if possible. Only confinement help and husband needed.” – Jache
“1. Formula milk is not poison. It’s okay to supplement with or give formula. 2. If someone offers help, take it. It keeps your sanity in check. 3. Forget about the books. It’s often best case scenario. Only mummy knows baby best. Go with the feel.” – Tiazzi
“1. Remember that babies are all different and that what works for one baby may not work for another. 2. Don’t be too proud to ask for/accept help! If someone offers to clean your toilet, let them do it! 3. Go with the flow. Babies will do everything they can to not fit into your schedule/plans for the day. Don’t worry too much about routine in the early days, as what works one day may not the next! 4. Google is not always your friend! I read/Googled way too much and it stressed me out because my baby didn’t or wouldn’t do what everyone else told me he should be doing!” – Abi-J
“Buy coconut oil! You can use it to help stretch marks, as moisturiser, as a nipple cream, for nappy rash, for babies’ cradle cap, and it’s a healthy fat which has helped me to up my milk supply.” – Pandoraisland
” 1. Don’t be too hard on yourself if breastfeeding doesn’t work or if you don’t have enough breast milk for your baby. Formula is also fine, and what’s most important is that baby is healthy, full, and happy. 2. Remember to take some time off if you feel overwhelmed. Motherhood is not an easy journey. You need all the sanity you can get. 3. Enjoy the little moments. They pass too fast.” – Lavishlyloved
“When K was a newborn, I was very stressed out over the lack of a routine. Every book on caring for a baby and every experienced mum emphasized so much on this routine thing, but I just couldn’t have one set up for K because she was such a feisty one. She would wake up and sleep as she pleased, and demanded to be carried or fed with deafening wails. I was just trying my best to pacify her, but felt like such a failure for being at her beck and call. Looking back, my advice is just do what you can and think is right for your baby, even if it defies all logic presented in baby books and other mums. You are the best mum for your child, even if you are still learning the ropes. Don’t get too hung up on those recommended practices because every baby is different.” – Magfreak
” 1. If you have a car or use taxis a lot, please get a carseat and ask them to let you try to fit it before buying. I can’t emphasize enough on getting a good carseat that keeps baby safe. I don’t drive, but if you do, please invest in one. 2. There are many kinds of slings/carriers/wraps out there. Get it after baby arrives, to know which one you and baby prefer. For me, I prefer the facing parent kind, because it is better for the development of the hips. 3. There are lots of strollers out there, so you have to know your needs: Lightweight? Sturdy? Fit into car boot? Easy to manoeuvre along the supermarket aisles? Can go on escalator? Collapse with one hand? This one can be tested out with your husband. Also, getting a preloved one can be a good way to save, if the condition is good and you don’t mind. 4. Breast pumps. Don’t buy until baby is out and you’ve seen the lactation consultant. You’ll know your needs and nipples better, or just skip breastfeeding because you can’t direct latch well. Again, preloved can be an option, if you just buy new flange/funnel etc. 5. Babies can learn to manipulate you from a very young age. It’s not a bad thing because you can’t spoil them too much when they are only so little. I don’t let mine cry it out, I meet their needs, but not to the extent that I become a slave to them. 6. Join mummy groups online for support if you like and don’t mind their advice, because Google can be informative but also scare the s*** out of you over nothing. When baby is crying or fussing in the middle of the night and the doctor is closed, don’t consult books or Google, go with your instinct.” – Valinorian
I hope you don’t feel overwhelmed by all the advice given by the different mums. Remember, do what you think is best for your child, and you’ll be fine. Always check with your PD if your child is unwell, and you aren’t sure what to do. They’re very used to handling anxious first-time parents, so don’t be afraid to ask! All the best!
PS. If you’re looking for a shopping list for babies, I wrote some posts here: Baby Shopping List – Cots, Beansprout Pillows, and other Sleeping Needs Baby Shopping List – Breast pumps, Milk Bottles, and other Nursing/Feeding Needs Baby Shopping List – Diapers, Bathtubs, and other Grooming/Health Needs Baby Shopping List – Activity Gym, Stroller, and other Playtime/Going Out Needs Baby Shopping List – Onesies, Mittens, and other Clothing Needs
PPS. If you’re looking for a hospital packing list, you can check out my very detailed list here.
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