I still remember the day Ellie was born. It was quite a smooth labor and I felt such relief the moment she was out. When they handed her to me, there was excitement, joy, and so much love. But I also felt a little nervous.
I held her tiny fingers in my palm, and wondered – will I really be able to do this? We waited so long for her, but were we prepared to parent her and be a good steward of this perfect gift from God?
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We had many friends and family who gave advice. Some were valuable, some less so. But I figured that who better to learn from than those who’d already experienced the reality of motherhood? So I kept an open heart to their input and chose what worked for us. Specifically, what worked for Ellie.
Those first few months were the hardest – it definitely got better once I got the hang of things. The beginning stage was all about surviving. Getting Ellie cleaned up, fed well, and sleeping as best as possible. Not to mention all the miscellaneous purchases that we suddenly realized we needed. Thank God for my parents and in-laws who made multiple shopping trips for us!
We would be Googling things all the time, and sometimes what we found would just overwhelm us to the point whereby we decided – okay, we’ve got to stay off the Internet for a while and just focus on the day to day moments with our baby.
I hope the following tips will be a convenient and simple go-to resource as a first-time Mum’s guide that doesn’t add stress to your already-full schedules.
First-time Mum’s Guide:
#1 Develop a Routine for Baby & You
Once our confinement nanny left after the first month, I followed an eat-play-sleep routine. It made my day a lot more structured and helped me to keep in step with what to do next. This helps your baby get used to a routine too.
Eat: feed baby
Play: play with baby
Sleep: nap for baby
I usually take a quick shower and settle urgent tasks (like pumping milk) before getting a little bit of rest during Ellie’s nap. Once she grew older, her nap schedule would be more consistent, and I was able to do more things while she slept.
Suggested Awake Times (these are just general estimates; do pay attention to your baby’s sleepy cues, eg. yawning, rubbing eyes, sudden crankiness)
From Birth to 6 weeks: 45 minutes
6 weeks to 3 months: 1.5 hours
3 to 6 months: 2 hours
6 to 9 months: 3 hours
9 to 12 months: 3.5 hours
#2 White Noise machine
My dear sister-in-law gave us a white noise machine and it was helpful in making sure Ellie’s room was not too quiet. According to experts, this white noise mimics the sounds in the Mum’s womb, making newborns more comfortable. We are still using this machine till today! But we only use it to play lullabies now.
#3 Feeding Log
If you intend to pump, do yourself a big favor and invest in the hands-free pumping bra! This made a world of difference to my pumping sessions since I would be able to surf the net, read my devotionals and relax a little during the sessions.
#4 Have an anchor bible verse
The reality is – for many first-time Mums, you are thrown into a whirlwind of round-the-clock feeding sessions, diaper changes, and bottle-washing. Add in the unpredictability of a newborn’s moods and bouts of crying…and you will quickly realize that it is quite impossible to have long-drawn bible reading sessions anymore. There are days when even taking a shower is a challenge. (psst: dry shampoo is going to be your best friend!)
But anchoring ourselves in God’s Word is important, especially in seasons like this. What I found to be useful was to have 1 main bible verse that I meditated on over and over. Mine was Isaiah 40:31.
“but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (NIV)
I loved listening to podcasts catered for Mums too, and one of my favorites is At Home with Sally. Listening to these podcasts was an easy way to receive God’s Word during those busy seasons. Reading books like “The Mission of Motherhood” and “Hope Unfolding: Grace-filled Truth for the Momma’s Heart” also helped shift my perspective from weary to hopeful.
#5 Create a support system that consists of at least 3 people
It truly takes a village to raise a kid. More than that, it takes a village to care for the Mum too. Don’t do motherhood alone. We were never meant to do this in isolation. God created communities for us to be soaked in, so reach out to family members, friends, and church-mates for help. I’m sure you will have plenty of willing hearts and hands!
Make babysitting arrangements and get out of the house on your own at least once a month, and do something for yourself. This solitude will be nourishing to your soul. Fill up your own love tank first before pouring into others.
#6 Do freezer cooking before you pop
Keep a stash of food always available for days when you are just too tired to cook for yourself. It will help you save money and time because well – you’ll be focusing all your energy on caring for your newborn. 🙂
Freezer cooking has reduced the time I spend in the kitchen, and it really is a simple and efficient way to eat more home cooked food.
Also, stock up your pantry with healthy snacks! Eg. cheese sticks, nuts, apples, strawberries, baby carrots, cereal, dried fruits, orange juice, yogurt...and the occasional brownie doesn’t hurt either. 😉 A happy mama means a more patient mama!
#7 Focus on one small goal each month
During the first month, everything was put on hold just to survive the initial period of sleepless nights and constant feedings. Month by month, I got things back in order – but only in baby steps.
I started with building in quiet time every day in the second month, then making time to cook healthy meals in the third month, and planning fun (but short) outings with Ellie in the fourth month. Investing in a Tula carrier was one of the best decisions ever. 🙂
Taking it very slowly worked well because I didn’t feel overwhelmed. It was still significant progress that brought me joy, and each goal built on the other.
At the end of the day, what matters most is finding the joy in motherhood. Every child is different in how they are specially made by God, and what worked for one may not work for the other. I learned to trust my own instincts and to keep praying for wisdom and discernment.
Motherhood is a beautiful gift, but it does come with the requirement of hard work, sacrifice, and grit. You may have many moments of doubt and insecurities, but remember that your child is the gift that God deemed fit to give you, and He doesn’t make mistakes. 🙂