Truths Most People Wouldn't Dare Tell Parents-To-Be About Living With A Baby
Spoiler: Your new roommate is going to be difficult.
Their thoughtful, real, and often poignant responses are a must-read for parents-to-be:
1. "As much as you love your baby, you’re going to ask yourself, What the hell did we do? It doesn’t mean you love your baby any less, but this new life is a scary adjustment. It does get easier, but nobody can truly prepare you."
"At times you'll think you made a huge mistake. No one talks about it, but I think a lot of first-time parents have these thoughts."
2. "It's normal to feel out of your depth. My mother was a midwife for over 30 years, so I thought I was well prepared, but as soon as I was alone with my baby for the first time, I felt like I had no idea what I was doing. It took me a while to realize a lot of people feel like that, especially their first time around."
3. "While babies are delicate, they are more resilient than they look. Not every incident or sneeze deserves a trip to urgent care."
4. "My partner and I were so sleep deprived and anxious that we fought A LOT after we brought our little one home. I can’t even remember it anymore, but it felt really dramatic and distressing at the time.
5. "I wish I knew that projectile poop was normal. I pushed my newborn baby’s tummy, and wet poop literally blew out in a poop arc onto the changing table. I was horrified, scared, and impressed all at once."
"The ‘splash zone’ when changing a diaper is larger than you might think — for both numbers one and two."
6. "Babies need very little other than nourishment, diapers, and love. They don't care if they have a $400 car seat or if they wear a different romper every day. They only care about the love they're shown because that love is what determines who they are going to turn into."
7. "The HORMONES! No one warned me how hard postpartum life was. It's worth it, absolutely, but I was all over the place with the new baby — crying, exhausted, experiencing mood swings, everything! It gets better, but I didn’t truly feel like 'me' again emotionally until about eight months later."
8. "You might actually grieve the loss of your pre-baby life. The change is so overwhelming, and adjusting to the new normal can be extremely challenging."
9. "I missed my old life. I missed who I was and resented feeling like I was becoming 'just' a mother. It’s so hard in a way I cannot even describe. And sometimes it doesn’t seem worth all the effort. And you’ll feel guilty about all of this."
10. "It's important to remember that you are not just a parent! You are still you."
"I really struggled when I first had my daughter. I felt like I lost my identity, and I felt guilty if I took time to work on my art, watch YouTube, or do anything I enjoyed. It gradually dawned on me that you can still be you and a parent!"
11. "The baby will sleep about 20 hours of the day. I got so much done when my daughter was small because I could pop her in a sling and she would happily sleep away. The flip side was that when she was awake, it could be at any time!"
12. "There is no wrong way to get a newborn baby to sleep, as long as it is safe."
15. "If you can't breastfeed, it's OK. There is so much 'Breast is best' pressure that if you can't breastfeed for any reason, you feel guilty as hell. But FORMULA FEEDING IS FINE! That's why it exists!"
"YOU DON'T HAVE TO BREASTFEED. You don't even have to try it if you don't like things near your tits. You don't need an excuse, a reason, any justification. It is no one's business."
"Not every mom and baby take to nursing well. Lots of babies don't latch on, your milk production may be slow, and it definitely does NOT mean you're a failure if you have to use formula."
16. "Make a plan for dealing with postpartum depression now. Educate those around you on when they should step in and help you get help. Do it before the baby comes home so you can jump right into solutions if you need them.
17. "Take your time getting back into sex, even if you had a C-section. I was young and felt pressured by my partner to have sex again. Turns out you can still get pregnant while nursing. My two girls are less than a year apart in age. I love them to death, but I wish I had been more assertive."
18. "Postpartum rage is a thing. Everyone talks about depression and anxiety, but rage is also a symptom you might have. It's normal, it's something a lot of new moms struggle with, and it doesn't mean you're a bad mom; it just means your hormones are not on your side, and it's nothing to be ashamed of.
"Talk to someone and seek treatment if you need it. It's a terrible thing to live with, and it's a symptom/expression of PPD/PPA that no one really seems to talk about."
19. "Take time to check in with yourself. Your mental health is so important and is often neglected. Do something that makes you feel happy, and don't always put yourself last.
"I struggled with breastfeeding, and at a certain point I realized it was adding to my PPD. I remember feeling like everyone told me to suck it up and keep breastfeeding because it's 'what's best for my baby.' But you know what was best for my baby? Having a happy mother. It felt like no one cared about my mental health."
20. "You will be so tired. More tired than you have ever, ever been. All you'll ever think about is sleep. You'll wonder how long the baby will sleep. You'll wonder when you can sleep. You'll keep track of how many hours of sleep you got the night before. Naps will become SO important."
21. "The hard part goes by so, so fast! Yes, it is hard, and there will be many nights you won't know how to exist. But somehow you do get through the hard parts, and then, in a blink of an eye, you've got the hang of it."
22. "Enjoy the little things with a new baby! The little noises, finger grabs, little spits...enjoy it all! It’s the one time your baby is 100% dependent on you! The older they get, the more they want to do it on their own!"
23. "You’ll lose pretty much all of your friends. Once you have a baby, all of your non-baby friends disappear. Or, if they do have kids, everyone is just too busy."
"You'll most likely lose friends. Some of my friends were genuinely happy for me, but after the initial excitement of the new baby, their lives didn't change and mine sure as shit did! It happens. We were in different places. People drift apart. It's sad, but I kind of feel now it was for the best. Most of those friends weren't great relationships to begin with."
24. "Baby onesies open wide at the neck, so you can pull them down after a blowout diaper instead of over their head (making a mess everywhere)."
25. "Also, use onesies with zippers and NOT snaps or buttons. This is especially helpful for those late-night changes."
26. "Shower. Find a time to shower.
"I would shower when my baby went down for nap, or I’d put her in her infant car seat and set it in the bathroom while I showered. Showering really made all the difference!"
27. "Don't forget to eat! You get so preoccupied with making sure the baby is taken care of, you tend to forget yourself!"
28. "Be kind to yourself. You and your baby are learning how to navigate this new world at the same time. As long as your baby is fed, has a clean diaper, and has somewhat of a sleep schedule, you’re doing just fine."
29. "Social media can be a killer for self-esteem in these first few months of parenthood. Know that your baby is different from the highly edited, posed, and picturesque Instagram mommy posts you see, AND THAT'S OK!"
30. "You might not have that 'immediate maternal connection' with your baby. It took around six weeks for my daughter to feel like my daughter, and I felt like such a broken woman because of it. It’s OK when feelings don’t automatically happen. You’re not broken or a bad mother/woman."
31. "Parenting might not come naturally to you. It can be frustrating if that happens. All you can do is try your best and know that you have others around you to help out where needed."
32. "Ask for and accept help."
33. "I wish someone had told me that all parents are just winging it. While books and pediatricians can offer advice, 99% of the time, parents are making decisions based on instincts, and that is OK!"
34. "Don't feel guilty for taking a break when your baby naps, even when there are a million other things to do. Your well-being should come before a list or chores."
35. "You can’t 'spoil' your baby. I was constantly told not to cuddle my baby so much and became anxious that I was ruining him, but they don’t stay little for long, so enjoy those snuggles!"
36. "Babies cry a lot. Think of what you imagine a lot to be and double it. They could cry all day long. It doesn’t mean you’re doing something wrong or they're sad or sick. It’s a whole new world out here, and they’re not used to it."
37. "I wish I had known that very loud, extended crying from the baby will cause a stress response and can take away all your logic. You forget everything you know about comforting them."
"Yes! Their cries go straight to the stress part of your brain and set everything off. It's so horrible, and it makes problem-solving basically impossible."
38. "Try not to stress out when they cry. They pick up on it and get more stressed out themselves. Do your best to take a deep breath and relax."
39. "You will feel guilty about everything: waiting too long to change a diaper, if your baby gets bumps and bruises, feeling like you’re not playing with them or reading enough...but you are doing GREAT.
"Parent guilt is very real and insidious, so remind yourself constantly that you’re doing the best that you can and no one’s perfect in order to combat those negative thoughts."
40. "You'll be judged so much — your baby is too small/big, dressed too warm/cold, or you're not feeding them right...everything's up for comment."
41. "No one talks about the recovery your body needs, too, while taking care of a baby! Especially if you’ve had stitches, not being able to wee comfortably or sit down!"
"Nobody really talks about what will happen to your body after you’ve pushed a little human out of your vagina. There will be blood, and lots of it. You may need to sit on a blow-up ring. Pooping will hurt (especially if you have an episiotomy, like I did), and you have to go through all of this while looking after a baby who wakes up every two hours to pull at your boob. It’s hard!"
42. "You will have so little time for yourself for the first few months.
"Before I went on maternity leave, I was convinced I’d miss work, social activities, etc., and I'd literally be twiddling my thumbs. My baby is so cute and so much fun, but bloody hard work at the same time, and because I’m breastfeeding, he’s with me 24/7. I wouldn’t have it any other way, but it can be tough."
43. "It is OK not to want to have your baby on you 24/7! Want to be in the other room for an hour? Great! Want to go on a walk without them? Do it!! You’re doing fine."
44. "A whole lot of traditional advice for new parents assumes that you haven't just given birth in the middle of a global pandemic. Don't be afraid to tell well-meaning family and friends that their advice is crap and to stop offering it."
45. "Your anxiety goes up. You’re always wondering if you’re doing a good job, what people are thinking of you in public."
46. "I wish someone had told me that being a mom would make me feel vulnerable in so many different ways. That the sense of responsibility can be overwhelming."
47. "Being a good mother doesn’t mean being a martyr. You don’t have to sacrifice everything for your baby in order to be a good mom."
48. "I wish someone had been more honest about colic! My baby has days where he cries for three hours between feedings and nothing calms him down! I'd never known a baby who did that, so I was very unprepared."
49. "I wish I'd known how lonely being home with your baby can feel. I feel like it was worse because I had a winter baby and we were stuck in the house. Sometimes I felt so trapped."
50. "Nights can make you feel isolated and forlorn — no light, can’t call parents or friends, stores and most medical resources closed...but if you just get through to morning and when the daylight returns, your mind will feel relieved and you’ll get some hope back."
51. "If you choose to go back to work, that's totally fine. If you choose to quit and stay home, that's fine, too."
52. "When you get overwhelmed or even angry with your screaming baby, it's OK to put them in a safe place like their crib and just step outside for a moment.
53. "I wish I had known that I would have weird, scary intrusive thoughts, and that it’s normal. You know those thoughts that your brain just throws out — like, You could just drop the baby down the stairs right now — that make you go, Oh my gosh, what the hell is wrong me? That happened a lot when I first came home with my baby, and it terrified me. I felt so guilty and just buried those memories for a long time.
"But about two years later, I stumbled upon an article about postpartum anxiety and intrusive thoughts, and realized it wasn’t just me. I’m sure more people have experienced this but have felt too terrible or guilty to tell y’all about it."
54. "Just because you're new to parenting doesn't make your decisions about YOUR child any less valid. Remember that YOU are the parent, and the choices about when/how they sleep, eat, socialize, or dress are completely up to you."
55. "People tend to focus on the negative. My mantra is, the days are long, but the years are short. Yes, it is hard work and sacrifice. But the love you feel for that little bundle is indescribable. Getting to watch them grow up, learn, and develop into their own person is an amazing experience that makes it all worth it."
56. "The best advice I ever got was to just do what works best for you and your family!"
57. "You will rise to the challenge. Sometimes, having a baby seems SO HARD. And it is! But you can do it, even on the most difficult days."
Note: Some submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.