Wow, where to start! I wish I could say that by the time I brought my third child home a little less than 3 months ago, I finally knew what I was doing having gone through it twice before, but alas, new surprises and things popped up that threw me for a loop. Just like every pregnancy and labor/delivery experience is different so is the arrival of your new little bundle of joy into your home. New challenges emerge as you try to fold this new life into the rest of the family structure with its routines, other siblings, etc. But amidst the different things that come up, there are some basic fears that many new moms feel when they first bring their newborn home (at least, these were the fears that I had). I’ll let you know how I dealt with them and what I learned and what I continue to learn everyday.
I don’t know anything about baby care
Even though I grew up the eldest of six children and helped my mom around the house and in caring for my younger siblings, the last time I had taken care of a baby had been nearly 20 years earlier with my youngest brother so much about baby care was unknown to me. First thing I did was ask my mom for advice (after all, the woman did raise 6 children). She came to stay with us for a month after my first child’s arrival and I turned to her with general questions. In addition, I sought advice from my pediatrician to get the latest news while also seeking the informal advice from other moms. You may be fortunate enough to have additional sources of advice and help like a postpartum doula or midwife or a certified newborn specialist. Ask questions if you have the opportunity!
Most importantly, I read, read, read. Doing research and being informed is something I am very passionate about (just in case you hadn’t noticed…wink wink). I think the more informed you are as a parent and a patient, the better you can partner with your healthcare providers and make wiser decisions for you and your family. You’re able to ask the right questions during the pediatrician visits, discuss something recent you read in an article, etc. It makes you an active patient/parent and not a passive one. This doesn’t mean that you have to go out and buy a dozen books on baby care, but rather go to your local library and pick up 1 or 2. A good book for example is the American Academy of Pediatrics “Caring For Your Baby and Young Child”. I am also a fan of Dr Spock Series.
My baby could become a victim to SIDS
SIDS is a scary thing without a doubt not only for new parents but for all parents every time they bring a newborn home no matter how many times you’ve gone through it before. The important thing is to understand what factors increase the likelihood of SIDS. Ask your pediatrician. You can also find great information at this link. http://sids-network.org/risk.htm
If you reduce the factors, you can lower the chances of this affecting your baby. Otherwise you’ll find yourself checking on him/her every 30 minutes like I did with my first baby (putting my makeup compactor glass to her mouth to check her breath). Now I know the factors! Duh!
I won’t be able to breastfeed
Every new mom worries about this. What if I can’t breastfeed? What if I don’t produce enough milk, etc. The important thing is to remember that unless you have a fundamental medical issue that prevents you from breastfeeding, you’ll learn to do so with patience and care. It won’t be automatic and it will take effort but with the help from a lactation consultant, baby nurse or post partum doula, you can be guided into effective techniques for *** feeding your baby. Whatever you do, don’t be bullied or pushed into feeding your baby formula at the hospital if you don’t want to! The baby needs only a little bit of colostrum during your hospital stay and it’s normal for he/she to lose some ounces at discharge relative to his/her birth weight. Believe me. I know. I learned my lesson on that one with my first child and I did not make the same mistake again with my other two kids. If you’re worried about having enough milk supply or resting and having someone else feed your baby, then rent a hospital grade pump and use it.
My baby will cry and I won’t be able to console him/her
Every new mom’s nightmare is a baby that cries and cries despite your best efforts to comfort him/her. Here it’s important to understand the signs of colic versus other things that may be making the baby cry like a dirty diaper or hunger. Our Certified Newborn Specialist Blogger Nancy did a really good job describing colic and ways to reduce it and prevent it. Check out her blog on that topic. Invariably there will be times where the baby cries non-stop but rest assured that your smell and sight will calm her down in most cases.
My baby isn’t normal
I know realize that every child develops differently and at different speeds. But when I brought my first baby home I was obsessed with her reaching certain developmental milestones “in time” (whatever that means). Rest assured that this paranoia is normal and so is your baby! Take those milestone charts at the doctor’s office with a grain of salt as there may be some variation. At each scheduled wellness visit the pediatrician will ask you questions and observe the baby to make sure they are doing “normal” things for their age. However if you do notice something different, a change in their behavior, trust your guts and share those with your doctor. I am a believer that a mom’s instinct goes along way in bringing to light issues that our babies may have.
Of course, I had more fears. Deeper ones that don’t necessarily have a clean answer or book where you can look them up. Perhaps the biggest ones of all were and continue to be the fear of anything happening to my children and me being a bad mother. Hmmm….not sure those ever go away. At least not for me.