During both my maternity leaves, I received more than my fair share of parenting tips. There was the put-the-baby-on-a-schedule-right-away advice, the carry-her-around-all-day-in-a-sling advice, the put-her-to-sleep-on-her-tummy advice and the ever popular it’s-time-to-get-that-baby-on-a-bottle advice.
I ended up ignoring most of it — except for two bits of wisdom. The first, relayed to me by a new mom from work, was a gem. “Keep water bottles in different places all over the house so you always have something to drink when you sit down to breastfeed,” she advised. The second, from my obstetrician, was to keep the diaper bag packed and waiting by the front door so getting out of the house was relatively simple. OK, they weren’t rocket science, but these two tips helped me stay moderately sane during my daughters’ infancy.
The truth is, just one piece of brilliant advice can make new motherhood a little easier, whether it’s a tip on fitting just a bit of exercise into your day or an easy dinner suggestion. The following pearls of wisdom — from moms and other experts around the country — are guaranteed to help you feel a little more comfortable with your exciting, exhausting new role.
Ask for help or hire it Ask friends to bring dinner. See if your mother-in-law can fold laundry while you nurse. Leave the baby with your husband while you go to the gym. Hire a cleaner to scour your house once a month. Just don’t try to do it all yourself. Allyson Tripp Rozell, of Burnaby, British Columbia,
Canada, learned this the hard way. “I think if I’d had more help the first weeks, it wouldn’t have taken so long to recover physically,” she says.
Find a support network Whether you hook up with new moms over the Internet or through your childbirth preparation class, finding a community of like-minded people is key to keeping your sanity. Marian Bigelow of Saratoga Springs, N.Y., has fond memories of the mom-and-baby exercise class she took after her son was born. “Just to know there were 10 other people who understood what I was going through was such a relief,” she says. “I didn’t have to pretend or apologize.”
Get movin’ “You can even just do abdominal contractions or Kegels while you’re feeding the baby,” says Julie Tupler, R.N., author of Maternal Fitness (Simon & Schuster, 1996). Or dance or play with your baby on the floor.
Make it easy to eat right Keep the local pizza delivery number handy. As Jeanne Goldberg, director of Tufts University Center for Nutrition Communication in Boston points out, pizza, salad and a glass of milk is a quick, nutritious meal.