5 Pieces of New Mom Advice I Actually Used

When you have a new baby every damn person has an opinion, from your mother to that old lady in line at the grocery store. One way to preserve your mental sanity is to discard 95% of this dispensed advice and keep the bits that work for you. Here's the advice worked for Heather and I think there is some gold here!


When I brought my first newborn home, I assumed there must have been a wild and wounded look in my eyes. It was the only explanation I could come up with as to why friends, family and even random strangers on the street were providing me with an enormously large amount of advice on everything from my nipples to sleep patterns.

What I soon realized was, just as they do in pregnancy, many well-intentioned people love to offer advice to new moms. In fact, if you google “advice for new moms” you’ll find over 5 million hits in seconds.

That’s a lot of nipple talk.

And although some of the advice I received wasn’t helpful, some was. So I’m actually glad that everyone had some wisdom to impart. Because without it, I wouldn’t have been given a few really great gems to hold onto.

Here are 5 pieces of advice that stuck with me and helped me through some of the rough days and long nights.

1. Don’t feel like you have to sleep when the baby sleeps.

I’m one of those types of people who just cannot relax if the floor is covered in chip crumbs and the sink is full of dishes. I wish I was. I love to nod along when people tell me that the laundry will be there tomorrow. But inside, I’m stewing about the stains that may be setting in on my whites. So when someone told me that it was okay to do other things instead of napping when the baby naps, I was so relieved. It was like I was getting a free pass to be slightly crazy about cleanliness and still be a good mom. And if you aren’t into cleaning, that’s okay too! Take a shower. Read. Sit on the couch and watch trashy TV. Whatever makes you feel just a little more human again.

2. Use a nipple shield.

When I couldn’t get breastfeeding to work at first, I was devastated. I had tried everything from tube feeding to cup feeding (which is extremely easy and relaxing when your newborn is in a blind rage from hunger!). After everyone I had met in the past few weeks had not only seen but had also handled my breasts, a kind nurse told me to give myself a break and try a nipple shield. When my baby finally latched onto that thing and I was able to breastfeed, I burst into tears. It was probably the first time I gave myself a break as a mom. And I learned enough from the experience to make sure it wouldn’t be the last.

(Editor’s note: some people worry that shields can cause nipple confusion in babies so just a heads up. I actually used one with my second son and it was a godsend so you won’t hear me complaining about them.)

3. Avoid visitors around day 3 after bringing your baby home.

My midwife told me this one – and I’ll admit I scoffed a bit at first. I wanted visitors! I wanted to share the joy that was my magic baby with well-wishers! Why would I need everyone to stay away 3 or 4 days after I had already come home? Hormones. That’s why. Around day 3 or 4, just as she predicted, I cried a lot. I was exhausted. I felt more than a little unsure. I just needed my pjs, my husband, my baby and a couch. The last thing I needed was to be ‘on’ for visitors.

4. Eat whatever the heck you want right now. 

After the hormonal crying, the exhaustion due to cleaning and the breastfeeding trauma, the last thing I needed to hear was someone warning me “Your baby gets whatever you’re eating, you know” in a condescending manner. When that happened, my Mom looked me right in the eye and said “You eat whatever you want right now. You deserve it.” So I wolfed down a chocolate bar and followed it up with a Pepsi because Mom said I could. It tasted delicious and I felt a million times better.


5. Don’t worry if you feel like you suck at this. You don’t.

This was probably my saving grace. Every time I felt like I failed a little. Like I didn’t know what I was doing. Like I was going to royally mess up my perfect little blank slate, I remembered these kind words. And I felt a little less alone.

Sometimes a little well-timed, thoughtful advice is all we need as new parents.

How about you? What advice did you find helpful?


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  • The nipple shields were a godsend. After nursing for three days during our hospital stay, my nipples were so fucked up I could swear they were almost bleeding or something. Every time my LO nursed it would feel like he was piercing needles through them. I was so scared to go home with him, (rightfully) afraid it was going to get so much worse and I’d be in pain for weeks. The problem was that I hadn’t been thought how to stop my LO’s latch properly (the first few times I just "pulled" him off) which did all the damage. The nurses suggested all kinds of things: wet, warm diapers, lanolin gel, special cooled pads, different nursing positions (which gave a little relief but didn’t help with the healing of my cracked nipples) until I actually asked for the shields myself. I think they were reluctant to give them to me at first because of the nipple confusion thing, but when I put them on I (also) cried.
    I then realized I wasn’t scared to go home anymore. The whole breastfeeding looked so daunting, it overshadowed everything.

    Another piece of advice I would suggest is that it is absolutely possible to combine breastfeeding and formula-feeding, which I didn’t know. Between his 2 and 3 months, my LO was the worst napper. We went from an easy sleeper to a completely darkened room and a fully silenced household, afraid to wake the baby in those precious minutes he was sleeping. I always breastfed him before and after a nap, but he always seemed hungry. This went on for weeks, until I was so tired and (literally) empty. At night it was better and I had the chance to refill, but during the day he drained me. It’s not fun to serve your kid an empty breast. So one night, 15 minutes before closing time, I send my boyfriend to the pharmacist for formula and the kid downed the whole bottle in 5 minutes. I felt so guilty for him being so hungry for weeks! From then on, I breastfeed him at night, and when he woke from a nap, and put him down for a nap with a formula feed. He thrived and was almost instantly a better sleeper!

  • My LO was 8 weeks early so nursing has been quite an adventure. She still struggles at the breast and each time she falls asleep before she’s full. As soon as I lay her down she’s awake and wanting more. The shields helped a little but I honestly hate fooling with them. Is it just means that has such a hard time getting them to stick when my LO is screaming and swinging every limb around?

    I felt awful when I wasn’t enjoying nursing at first. I wanted the experience everyone else talked about. I wanted to look at my nursing babe and feel that special bond and think, "oh, how sweet." Instead I was thinking "Dear God, pleeeease wake up and finish. We’ve been here for an hour and you’ve slept 80% of the time!"

    My mom finally told me to, ‘Do what works best for you and your family’ and right now that’s feeding her breast milk through a bottle. We haven’t given up on nursing altogether but after our time in the NICU I do have a good supply of milk and an office where I can pump in private so exclusive pumping could work for us. And I’m learning that’s nothing to feel bad about.

    Plus in the middle of the night I pump and dad feeds, so we’re both back to sleep in under 30 minutes, as opposed to me staying up doing a marathon nursing session. And I get to look at him sweetly looking at our little babe and think, ‘Oh, how sweet.’ 🙂

  • "Sometimes babies just cry because they are babies. " There isn’t always a solution. If you can cuddle and comfort him while he is crying then that is great– it’ll let him know you are their for him when he is upset– but if you just can’t take it anymore or really have to pee its okay to walk away and let him cry for a little while.

    Also- "breastfeeding gets a lot easier at 6 weeks". Early on I repeated that to myself when my nipples hurt so bad I didn’t think I could go on. As long as I could get to 6 weeks, I told myself. And you know what? Its true! Right around 6 weeks my nipples toughened up, my milk supply became more regular, my baby gained enough core and neck strength to actually help support himself and it all became a lot easier! I didn’t enjoy breastfeeding at first- it was something I did for my kid- but now that I’m past that 6 week mark I enjoy it (at least some of the time!)

  • The nipple shields saved me the first time too. And sleeping on command is impossible, I wish I’d known that the first time.

    Before I had my first baby, a friend told me to read The Baby Whisperer before the baby came, and it helped me – because reading when you’re twitchy and panicked during Newborndom isn’t realistic.

    With my second, the hardest part was being divided between the two of them. A friend told me to deal with the toddler’s needs first because the baby doesn’t even know he’s being neglected (at least not until he’s grown up and his shrink tells him so).

  • My favourite advice was that everything will pass. The bad phases, the good phases, the phase when you consider stamping "return to sender" on that sweet little forehead and calling up the stork… (lol jk)… just when you’re getting used to something, it passes and little one is totally different than he was just yesterday.

  • Basically all useful advice I’ve gotten has boiled down to this:
    You are doing great.
    Your kid is doing great.
    This too shall pass.

  • That’s interesting, Shannon! Just really goest to show how different our pregnancies, births, babies and postpartum experiences are, eh? Thanks for sharing! 🙂

    AH – right??? I would have completely given up on breastfeeding if I didn’t finally allow myself to try it out. I think my overall ‘theme’ for this piece was – give yourself a break as a new Mom. It’s hard to, but it really helps!

  • I totally get the "no visitors because of hormones," but honestly, the opposite helped me. The first time around on maternity leave, I think I had undiagnosed post-partum anxiety. Much of it was because of the sense of isolation. Encouraging people to come over and visit personally helped me no matter how tired or hormonal I felt otherwise because it provided a sense of connection. Not to say that didn’t work for you, of course!

  • Oh my goodness. The nipped shield saved me. It was the only way she would latch for months. I probably would have quit if it weren’t for them.

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