10 Thing I Learned My 1st Month As a New Mom

Five weeks ago we brought Tommy home from the Hospital. It feels fast and slow at the same time, somehow. I never want to be that mom that thinks she has everything figured out because I don’t think I ever will, but I did want to share the 10 things that I have learned since becoming a mom. If you are already a mother, you will probably laugh at this list. If you are pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant in the next year or so, book mark this to read again before the baby comes!

#1. Don’t buy newborn clothes, or at least not much if you know you are having a bigger baby or you were a big baby yourself.

Tommy was 8 lbs 14 oz and 22 inches long when we was born. We knew he was going to be big but had already bought some items before given this knowledge. I was over 8 lbs so I should have known. The sizing of baby clothing is based on weight and length. Newborn is up to 8 lbs and 21.5 inches long at Carter’s where I bought most of my baby clothes. We got to wear a few items 2 or 3 times before accepting defeat. The biggest bummer were my newborn swaddles like the wombie which is too short and chokes him around the neck. At 5 weeks, he is wearing the 3-6 month sleep sack/swaddles. My sister, a mother of two, basically told me this but it didn’t resonate until Tommy had arrived. Don’t be like me.

#2. Stock up on nursing bras and tanks before baby arrives.

I haven’t been able to wear a regular bra since my milk came in. I had two nursing bras and two tank tops. They are covered in milk by the end of each day so at a minimum, I have to do laundry every 4 days. I should have bought more and have since. Be careful of buying structured bras before your milk comes in. I have an underwire nursing bra that I never wear because it is too small now and so damn uncomfortable. Again, my sister-in-law and sister told me this but again, I didn’t listen. My sister luckily gave me a tank for Christmas.

#3. Just because they slept well two or three nights doesn’t mean they’re going to be good sleepers.

“Oh great, you had a big baby! He will probably be a great sleeper.” And he was… for the first three weeks. Tommy went from sleeping 4 hours at a stretch in the night to 2.5 at 5 weeks. Last night he slept for 5 hours straight but I’m not going to act like I’m the sleep expert. It happened once. My fingers are crossed it happens again but who knows!? I’m reading this book that my sister and her friends swear by but I have only implemented a few things so far because it is 600 pages long! When am I supposed to have time to read it?

#4. Fight the urge to be that annoying parent the brags about your child online.

Someone who gave birth a few weeks before me shared her sleeping tips on Facebook for fellow new moms with a humble brag that her 2 week old has been sleeping 6 hours through the night since birth. What!? I thought babies were supposed to wake up every 4 max? You aren’t an expert after just 2 weeks (or one month) of giving birth and most people on Facebook don’t care unless they just had a baby, and those people are probably miserably tired and don’t want to hear that you are getting 6 hours of uninterrupted sleep. If it potentially could make someone else feel negative, don’t share it. Why not just share the sleeping book and say, “This book was a life saver!” There’s no need to add the part about your own kid’s success, right?

#5. Baby acne really does go away on its own.

Tommy had baby acne. It didn’t bother him but I was self conscious for him. Did it make me look like a dirty parent? I had a few people give me suggestions for getting rid of it, breast milk, dandruff shampoo and a prescription (!?!) from the doctor. We did a little breast milk and I would take a warm face cloth and gently pat his face and sure enough it cleared up in a couple of weeks! I’m glad I didn’t seek out any prescription though. If 50% of babies get it, it must be normal and natural and since I don’t see toddlers with acne, I wish I had stressed less about it. I suppose there are extremes but don’t freak out if this happens to your kid.

#6. Breast feeding really does get better!

I shared my struggles with painful breast feeding early on. It was hard for me because it was so painful. I had enough milk but I literally couldn’t do it on one side. By two weeks it was manageable and by 4 weeks, it was fine. It now feels like a sense of relief when he latches and I enjoy our bonding time – mostly.

professional pictures tommy

#7. Newborn photos have potential to be adorable but they also can be an expensive failure.

While in the hospital still, I reached out to a few newborn photographers without much research on price or personal recommendations. I was shocked at how expensive they were but booked an appointment anyway! Tommy was 9 days late and it is recommended to shoot your newborn within 2 weeks to get those sleepy poses where you can position the infant. We scheduled our visit a week after he was born and Tommy did not want to play. He stayed awake for most of the shoot and our pictures were cute but they weren’t the Anne Geddes whimsical images I had in mind. It wasn’t our photographers fault, it was ours and it wasn’t Tommy’s. It was just bad luck and poor timing. We did get some good photos of our little family that I’m really happy with but this was my first lesson in parenting on how you have to just go with the flow. The “no plan” plan is best.

#8. Your child will inevitably hate the most expensive item you buy for them.

I knew I needed soothing places to put Tommy so I could attempt to work a little. His first 5 weeks of life, he pretty much hated everything we put him in. We ended up buying a Fisher Price Rock and Play that saved us. It happened to be the cheapest thing we bought. If you want fancy stuff, look to buy it used because I’m sure there are many other parents out there who paid big bucks to soothe their kid and was only used a handful of times. I’m waiting until 3 months to see if Tommy’s preferences change.

#9. Don’t change the diaper in the middle of the night unless you have to or your kid demands it through crying.

This should be filed under “Duh” by veteran moms but I didn’t know this! When Tommy would cry at night for a feeding, Nick would change his diaper and then bring him to me to feed. Isn’t that what were told to do??? This would totally wake him up, and cause him to hysterically cry and then I’d have to soothe him, feed him and get him back to sleep somehow in a timely fashion. Now, I can feed him still half asleep and put him right back to bed… except for this past week when he was going through a “wonder week.”

#10. Not all reality stars have bad advice.

I still love Kristin Cavallari, the Laguna Beach alum. She was interviewed recently for her upcoming book and had a really interesting comment on mommy-hood. When you have your first, you don’t know how long phases last. You don’t know when it get’s easier. With a second or third, you’ve been down the same path and can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Nick and I joked that Tommy might be an only child this past month. I’ve always wanted three. This comment from my favorite reality star made me realize that I can do it. That it is getting easier. Once he is 3 months old, I’ll be able to bring him around with me where ever I go. I won’t have to worry as much about germs, I can bring to him to babysitting at the gym and there will be a sort of predictable schedule with nap time! I hope Tommy isn’t an only child but I don’t think I have total control over that one.

4 weeks old

Any advice for me on month #2 or something to add to month #1?

10 Thing I Learned My 1st Month As a New Mom

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  • Katy Widrick

    Yes to ALL of these — and we love the Rock n Play so much, we have two (one for each floor). I could write a new version of things I’ve learned a second-time mom because while I expected to know everything, I feel just as clueless as the first time around!

    • Michele

      Everyone seems to swear by the Rock N Play, so I requested one on my baby registry and received one. We have used it a handful of times and my baby cries within minutes of being in it. We now have a swing and bouncy seat that he does better with, and also just splurged on the 4moms MamaRoo. I guess the lesson learned is, just because one baby loves something definitely doesn’t mean yours will!! Fingers crossed we’ve found the magic bullet.

  • Krystina

    Ohhhh boyyyyyy I can relate to pretty much all of these! I have an almost 10 month old and I will tell you that the sleeping CONSTANTLY changes, but it will eventually get better. 🙂 We were lucky with our daughter sleeping through the night at a rather young age, but she was a horrible napper up until recently. And the expensive toys/baby soothers…definitely keep trying. We had a lot of different things too and her preference changed for things as she got older. Oh and the baby acne…I thought the same thing about people thinking we were dirty parents! Especially to people that don’t have kids and don’t know that it’s a common thing! Ha!

  • Jess Runnals

    You’re doing a great job!! I bought every color of the “women’s nursing cotton cami” from Target and lived in them. Reasonably priced and great quality! BTW, love the advice from Kristin- so so true.

  • Fiona MacDonald

    Oh love these, it’s so funny to look back (my son is now 7 months) and think about how focused you were on that phase, then the next phase comes and you’re like SH**T what next! lol I have to say #1 is the exact opposite for me. Everyone told me not to buy newborn stuff and my little one came out PEANUT sized, 6 lbs 1 oz, so luckily I had ignored that advice and ran out before he popped out and bought a bunch of newborn outfits and diapers. He stayed in them for at least 6 weeks ..oh and I hear you on the sleeping, I remember going to visit friends with new babies and them saying ‘ohh my baby is a great sleepr’ yeah ALL newborns are great sleepers for the first few weeks and then BAM they turn on you…lol but trust me after 3 months it gets better, until 4 months and then they hit a sleep regression and you remember NEVER to talk about sleep again.that was the biggest advice I got, if you talk about sleep babies know and they flip the script…lol…I swear it’s true! I also read that book and we used Sleep Sense to help teach our baby healthy sleep habits once he got to 5 months and has really helped get us some freedom and a bit of a life back! Just know you’re doing all the right things and being a mama is NOT easy…we still say ‘one and done’ but then you want to be able to use all these tools for the next kid so WHO knows! Just keep doing what you’re doing ’cause you’re doing awesome 🙂

  • Liz

    “It gets better” is by far the best thing I feel like you can tell a new mom! I think there is such a high expectation for moms to just be so in love and happy with their new babies, which they are! But it’s SO hard those first few weeks ..and when people would tell me it gets better I would cling to that. It gave me so much hope AND it made me realize how important mom friends are. I think I’d add that to the list for baby #1. Find your mom friends! They understand, and if you can find someone with a baby just a few months older you can actually see the light at the end if the tunnel in those first few weeks, or the tough wonder weeks! Congrats on the first month!! Tommy is so cute!

  • Julia

    What nursing bras and tanks do you recommend? I just started looking in to this recently and as with everything else, the amount of options are overwhelming!

  • jenedunham

    The Good Sleeper by Janet Kennedy is what saved us! It’s basically a condensed easier to read version of the book you are working on now! I tried both! The ease of motherhood seems to ebb and flow or at least for me so far (over the past year) but it’s so worth it!

  • Kathy

    I have a comment on #4 -- that mom is LUCKY, and nothing more. I don’t believe there are ANY tips that would make a baby sleep longer than they would have anyway. Just like you’ve experienced, it fluctuates when they’re that young.

    The best piece of advice I got from a good friend (and fellow mom) was: Don’t let anybody tell you not to hold him too much because you’ll spoil him”. My kids are grown so I’m not sure if people still say that or not. In one short year, he’ll most likely be walking and won’t want or need you to hold him so much. It is such a precious time and it goes by SO quickly, so savor it.

    Tommy is beautiful and you’re doing an amazing job! Thanks for sharing!

  • Sabrina @ Fit Coffee Mom

    Awesome post! I am with you on the newborn things. I told everyone not to because I found out before my baby shower. I had to get a check up ultrasound at 34 weeks and the doc said she wasn’t going to be more than 7lbs, so I bought a few newborn pieces! They lasted on her for 5 weeks since she was only 6lbs 2oz! The diaper changing in middle of night I actually didn’t know til now!! I kinda stopped doing so anyways at 2-3m, was just too tired! >.<

  • Polly

    I love reading your baby posts! My little man is almost 7 weeks old and I’m learning new things about him everyday. I definitely agree about the nursing bras. I had to order more after my son was born since I wear them all the time. I didn’t think I would need newborn clothes but I ended up delivering 5 weeks early so they came in handy. I also had to buy preemie diapers (I had several boxes of newborn ones). I guess you can never predict what will happen!

  • Jess

    It definitely gets better! I’m expecting my third and I look back on the first few months of my first and just laugh. Sleep is precious and hard to come by…for you and the baby both! I loved my Fisher price swing…life saver. Invest in a good camera and breathing monitor…those allow you a little peace of mind! Keep up the good work…you’re doing a great job!

  • Marylynn Visaggio

    Cherish each moment. I’m a first time mom and my son is 13 months old. As a newborn, I remember the nights where he was screaming, crying -- I would remind myself that this is just a moment in time. Remember to do what works best for you. I breastfed and it was not easy in the beginning, either. I took a breastfeeding class, given by a nurse who made it seem like it shouldn’t (better yet, wasn’t supposed to) hurt…. well guess what it does hurt lol. Everyday is a chance to learn something new, they don’t come with instructions and remember to do what works best for you. You’re doing a great job and thank you for sharing this chapter of your life.

  • ashley

    I actually have a question for any second time moms who breast feed. I am currently pregnant with my second baby and I am going to breast feed him too. I was wondering is there any good tips on how to toughen up your nipples before the baby comes to make the first month hurt less?

  • Christina

    Sounds like you’re doing great! My advice (also a first time mom of a now 5.5 month old son) is to always keep an open mind. Never say ‘I’ll never do this or that’ because chances are you may find yourself doing exactly that when you’ve tried everything else and nothing works 😉 It does get easier, but it’s a slow process and you may not realize day after day. But when you look back a month, then you can tell. That being said, there’s always something. Growth spurts, mastering new skills which makes them extra cranky because their brain goes on overdrive, teething, vaccines, illnesses, the 4-month sleep regression, the list goes on. It gets much more enjoyable as you watch your baby grow and be able to interact with you more and better, and also you’ll find that you’ll be getting the hang of it more and more. I don’t think it ever gets easy though, and in some ways, it may even get harder as they grow. As for sleep, I agree with everyone who’s said it changes constantly. My son started doing 7-hour stretches at night at 2 months old, night after night. It was a dream and it became very consistent, so at some point I took it for granted that this is how it was going to be. Well, enter the 4-month sleep regression and that went out the window. He started waking up 3-4 times at night again, some nights every 2 hours on the clock even. Nowadays at 5.5 months we have some pretty awesome nights where he does 7-8 hour stretches, and then some miserable ones still. Basically his sleep is still all over the place, but I’m hopeful it will eventually settle (except for illnesses, teething etc), even if we’re talking several months down the road. His naps are also all over the place, but they always have been -- it seems to vary week by week. One week he’ll go down easily and nap great, then the following week he’ll fight it and end up taking short 30-45 minute naps. As for wanting more children or stopping at one, my advice is to just focus on this one for now and not to think about having more or not for the time being. You’re going through a very hard phase, a huge life adjustment, and your hormones are probably still regulating, so give yourself a break. I was the same, I’d always said I wanted 2 and I still do, but all too often nowadays, when things get tough, I find myself entertaining the idea of just stopping at one, lol. But I just know eventually I will want us to try for #2, just not for another couple of years, lol. Last but not least, I second every word Fiona McDonald has written. Good luck, sounds like you’re doing a terrific job already!

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