When I became a mama, I had no idea how much I would change, and how little I would know. I was in awe of everything my sweet girl did, was obsessive over her naps, feedings, and felt guilty if I took a shower and came back to her awake from a nap and crying for me.
I consulted Google (so much Googling!), read mom blogs, asked friends with little ones about every uncertainty. I wanted to figure things out on my own, but also felt confined by my new role as a mother - primary care-giver, food-source, nurturer, sleep-whisperer.
This beautiful phase in life is also overwhelming, and that’s where Linda Szmulewitz and the Chicago Moms Group comes in. I sat down with Linda to learn her top tips from the most frequent questions and concerns she hears from new mamas and I’m sharing highlights from our chat here.
Here are the top 5 questions Linda gets from new mamas, and take-aways from our chat.
1. What is the best advice for getting through the early weeks/months of motherhood?
Linda recommends asking for, and accepting help. Even the smallest tasks like helping with a load of laundry or meals. Don’t compare yourself to others. Every baby is different, every family is different, and you are different.
2. What is the best way to find and connect with other moms?
Mom groups, of course. Meeting moms in a group setting where there is also an element of learning takes the pressure off. Some of the moms who met in Chicago New Moms Group are best friends, their kids have grown up together. You can also find new mom groups on Facebook, that have playground meet-ups, or Mom & Me fitness classes.
3. What are your tips for traveling with a baby/kids?
Adalynn on her first flight
Bring your favorite baby carrier, it helps to be hands-free. Bring the stroller to the gate, you can gate check it. Remember a change of clothes for yourself, not just your baby! You can also carry-on breastmilk and baby formula. If you are returning to work and starting to travel, you can take advantage of services like Milk Stork that will overnight your freshly pumped milk (I did this when I returned to work after my first daughter!). In many cases, your company should cover the expense.
4. What sleep guidance would you offer to new parents, especially in the early weeks (under 3 months)?
Ellery sleeping on me, always her preference
Newborns are not able to sleep-train, and need a lot of sleep. As new parents, what we can do is help with their Circadian rhythms. One important skill to teach young babies is to be able to fall asleep on their own. A good time to practice is during nap time.
My side note: Ellery was great at putting herself down for naps, and bedtime for the most part. BUT she couldn't put herself back down during night wakings. I was so tired and always intervened to nurse her back to sleep. As she got older, patience, consistency, and having my husband step in to put her to sleep helped with bedtime transitions.
5. Related to adapting to your new life with a newborn baby, how do you embrace the changes in your postpartum body and take care of yourself?
Seven months postpartum
You feel different, things are in different places, your bones shift. Don’t force yourself into uncomfortable clothes that don’t fit or work for your needs. If you are breastfeeding, you’ll need at least a few pieces that fit comfortably and work for you during this stage. Find time to get some gentle exercise. Every woman who has given birth deserves pelvic floor therapy. Prioritize and take care of yourself so you can take care of your family.
Side note: For me, the mental and physical postpartum journey was connected. I struggled with both my mental wellness, body image and my physical well-being. I felt uncomfortable in my own skin, uncomfortable in my clothing. It made me feel defeated. This was the inspiration for starting Of an Origin.
Becoming a mama changes you in ways you couldn’t imagine. You will never have all the answers, no matter how many Google searches you make or how many mom forums you follow, but with a tribe of mamas going through the same experience, and experts like Linda, you can feel supported and more prepared!
Watch our full interview with Linda on IGTV.
You've got this mama!
Mama to Adalynn & Ellery
CEO, Of an Origin