10 Things You Should Know About Babies

10 Things You Should Know About Babies

When I was pregnant with my first child, ten years and a million sleepless nights ago, I went about pregnancy the same way I had gone about my college courses: by reading everything I could get my hands on, studying notes, attending classes, and joining message boards. I was always a great student — and definitely an overachiever — and now I intended to get an A-plus in Motherhood 101.

I diligently attended my birthing classes, toured the hospital, and dragged my husband to the breastfeeding prep class. I washed all the bodysuits and the gowns in hypoallergenic, dye- and scent-free detergent. I practiced my kegels.

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Then, I had a baby.

And, like postpartum women everywhere, I found myself in my bed, body fluids oozing from far and near, stitches in places I didn’t know I had, my breasts growing at an exponential and alarming rate, my hormones crashing down around me, and all I could think was, “Nobody told me about this. There was no chapter that said anything about this!”

“Why didn’t anyone tell me?”

The answer is simple: because I didn’t want to hear it. The truth is, when I was pregnant, I only wanted to talk about pregnancy and childbirth and strollers and Diaper Genies. No one told me that birth was only, literally, the beginning. I can’t blame a universal motherhood conspiracy, though; I would not have listened.

Here are ten things I wish someone had told me — and I wish that I had heard:

1. The first time you see or hold your baby, you might not hear angel choirs in the distance. You might have a doctor still halfway up your body stitching you, or a nurse pumping your stomach to help you deliver your placenta. You might be in a lot of pain. You might be more exhausted than you have ever been in your whole life. It’s okay if you don’t hear the angels. There will be time to have those magic moments with your new baby.

2. After you deliver, your first trip to the bathroom will be an event. Don’t be embarrassed to let someone help you there; do not risk passing out alone. Be prepared that this is only the beginning of your loss of dignity as a mother. After all, you will have years ahead of you during which you will not be able to visit the potty alone. Might as well start now.

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3. Breastfeeding is hard. It takes a little while to get used to the “holds” and find the one that works best for you and your likely hysterically screaming newborn. Whether you are doing it right or not, breastfeeding hurts at the beginning. Sometimes a lot. My nipples cracked and bled with my first baby. Engorgement was scary and extremely uncomfortable. My breasts radiated heat and actually pulsed. But my lactation consultant was my knight in lanolin-coated shining armor, and after the first two weeks, breastfeeding became more comfortable and much more manageable. Also: if breastfeeding is not for you or if it just doesn’t work out, that is — REALLY — fine. In the end, the way you feed your baby is inconsequential compared to the way you love your baby.

4. On your fourth day postpartum, you will most likely cry. A lot. This is usually when your hormones crash. This is the day when you will be certain that your life is over, that your partner is a jerk, and that you cannot do anything right. You’ll cry just because. You’re allowed. (BUT — if you continue to cry and continue to feel down, seek help pronto.)

5. If at all possible, do not put on real clothes for at least two weeks. Once you get out of your pajamas, people start expecting you to be competent. Wear clean, fresh pajamas if you must, but stay in our pajamas unless you want to cook and clean and entertain visitors along with the bleeding, oozing, leaking, and caring for another human life parts of the first two weeks.

6. Babies don’t always sleep. This is not the result of Something You Did Because You Are Already a Failure as a Parent. These same babies will, eventually, sleep. Promise. You cannot ruin them for life. Other parents will tell you their babies are sleeping. I promise you they are a) stretching the truth, b) defining “sleep” differently than you do, c) still due for sleep disruptions, or d) flat-out lying. You will face these same alternate versions of parental realities again when you talk to other parents about potty-training and reading further down the road. Seriously, babies are as different as adults. Some sleep better than others. But they all struggle sometimes. Your child will sleep sooner or later.

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7. Don’t let anyone make you think you don’t know your own baby best, and don’t let anyone make you think you’re not doing a good job. There is no one right way to parent and there are many ways to be a good parent. Related: You don’t have to do what your mom, mother-in-law, or grandmother did. Listen to your gut.

8. Find support — neighborhood groups, breastfeeding groups, hospital new mom groups, whatever you can find. Networking with other new mothers can be a crucial lifeline, even if you go back to work after your maternity leave. Having a newborn is like going off to college for the first time — you need to find other newbie freshmen so you can all be clueless together.

9. Don’t be a martyr. Kids don’t visit martyrs for the holidays when they grow up. Hire someone or beg your friends to come and hold the baby while you shower and nap sometimes. It’s not easy to adjust to being a mom. One day, you are a person just taking care of yourself; the next day, you can’t button your shirt straight. Don’t be afraid to say, “This is hard,” or “this sucks!” It is hard and it does suck sometimes. That doesn’t mean you aren’t 110% grateful for the blessing of a baby or completely in love with your child.

10. Take lots of pictures (and get in them), because you won’t remember much of this later. Trust me.

More than anything, I wish someone had told me this: The first year of your first time being a mother is like nothing you will ever experience again, no matter how many children you have. Every day is a miracle. Every day is a journey. Every day might seem like it lasts 100 hours. There are lights at the end of every tunnel, but you won’t know it. You will never again feel like you are getting an A-plus. You will be forever changed. At some point, you will realize that “nobody ever told you” because some things you have to experience for yourself; There’s no book or class or even little old lady in the grocery store who can tell you what to really expect when you’re expecting.

Related post: 26 Reasons I’ve Cried Since Having a Baby

About the writer


Allison is a writer and a mother of four children. Her writing can be found at her own blog, Allison Slater Tate, on Facebook, and Twitter.


sarah 2 months ago

… oh and lanolin creme is your (nipples) best friend. Apply every feed regardless of whether you think you need to.

sarah 2 months ago

Best midwife suggestion – do #1 s in the shower post delivery to avoid stiches issues (and boy did I need to – was sipping water between contractions and drank about 2 litres!)

Kiara 3 months ago

I am pregnant and I don’t know what to do with life any more my boyfriend he’s 18 and he is at work in less I call him or tell him to stay home to help me
I’m 17 and I try to keep it a secret between every one and man o man my hockey team doesn’t like me being pregnant the boys on my team accept my brother all know that I am pregnant and need help so they protect me ( not the best idea) I fell to the ice and my boyfriend ran out since he is on my team and tried to calm me and ya it is scary being pregnant it usually lasts 9- 10 month in your body it sucks …,…….

Debbie Hogan 3 months ago

So very true, and as I am a mother of adult children I had a chuckle at many of the things you described.. been there done that…thank you .

Darian Spaeth 6 months ago

I was hoping to find something on the internet that would make me feel better about my situation, unfortunately i feel worse. Truth hurts i guess….

dezz 6 months ago

Thank you :)

Amber 7 months ago

The one thing I realized that most people don’t know is younger kids unless they’re immeadiate family won’t be able to come in the room. At least that’s how it was at our local hospital.

April 9 months ago

Number #4 is where I currently am, exactly 4 days pp and I just want to cry, I’ve got great family support but I feel like I’m going to breakdown any minute.
I need to remind myself things will get better.

jocelyn 9 months ago

I would like to have a other children. I am trying to get pregnant.

Patricia Cruz 9 months ago

I just love this article. I’m about to give birth in a month and I was tear jerky and laughing while reading this. Thank you! I could give you a hug! :)

sandy 10 months ago

Thanks! i decided to get an abortion upon reading your article, it helped me to decide a lot, what a terrible thing to go through! I’m happy to be childless! thank you for telling the truth sweety, you are very brave too!

Julie 10 months ago

I am a photographer and #7 is the hardest for new moms. I know you don’t like the extra baby weight that still lingers and you are a mess from the sleepless night before but you’re child will not care about anything other then that they have a picture with you! You can always talk to you’re photographer about what you want to avoid showing and they will work with you to get you what you want.

Nikki 10 months ago

Thank you for the positive and blunt truth. It is absolutely amazing having my beautiful boy (2nd child). Also on the other hand, it is SO HARD.
My story goes I had my baby on the 23rd of December of 2014 and 4 hours after delivery I stormed out of the hospital. They tried to hold us there and called CPS and hospital security and LET ME JUST TELL YOU…NOTHING HAPPENED!! They CANNOT hold you or your baby “hostage”. We are pursuing legal action. Just be confident. I had an epidural and as soon as I could walk I was out of there. I also made a nurse cry because she hadn’t had her lunch yet, to which I said, “lady, nothing personal…i haven’t eaten in almost 3 days and I just delivered a baby so buzz off.” So then it was happy smiles and whatnot back home. I came home and cleaned my house after delivery because my pet pigs had gotten out of their gated area. (Like 5 hours post delivery with stitches, a baby, and highly emotional) But then things took a turn for the worst. my husband left for work for one week the day after Christmas. He was 3 days old. I was afraid to ask for help and I literally worked my butt off. My parents are useless and out of the picture and have been. I had my In-laws and my doula. These were people I called and asked for help (and my mother in law gets a special shout out because she was always there when she said she was going to be there but didn’t come to the house at all but bought groceries and planned my daughters birthday party for me) but every other person took advantage of my time and said they wee coming and I’d clean up and no one would show. Happened four or five times with multiple people, who I still love and don’t resent for it. (You have to understand life happens and you can’t choose or determine everything in life. Even though you totally won’t see it that way at first. You will be pissed and slam doors and then wake your baby then be even more mad.) my daughter (who turned ten on Dec 27) who I had home with me and needed my special attention.
I can sort of wrap this long drawn out explanation with, nothing EVER goes according to plan. The best thing to do is not to have a plan. Be prepared for things but let your baby decide his/her plan. Whether you like it or not he/she is the boss. For now…
It’s important to ask for help. I was pretty scared to ask for help. You don’t have to be super mom to be a good mom even a great mom (or dad I’m not being biased.)
The emotions are UNBELIEVABLE. And actually about an hour ago I felt like I was in the bottom of the basin, but just sharing my experience and maybe just one person can read what I write and take something away from it, gives me a reassuring feeling of good-doing and that I can make it if I made it through all of that.
Just as you will with your experience.
Good luck!!! :)

Allie 10 months ago

Love this article! So abrasively true! One thing that I would add is that it takes months to really feel like your old self again. I’m not talking about losing the baby weight and being perfectly toned, I mean feeling emotionally, mentally and maybe evenly spiritually more balanced.

Allie 11 months ago

Totally agree with all 10 points. Was lucky enough to be able to nurse all 3 of my kids for almost a year – but that might not have happened if not for a “Day 4 post-partum” emergency session with the lactation consultant at our hospital! Ask for help – means you are a great mom and it will make asking for help later on! And if you can’t nurse means you are a Realistic Mom – not a Bad Mom. No kid was denied college admission cuz s/he wasn’t breastfeed!

Janet 1 year ago

It is 6 years since I had my first child and I almost cried reading this! I have never seen a truer description of the first few weeks of motherhood. And in response, much to my surprise every decision I made did not ‘damage’ my daughter, my nipples once hanging off reattached (I fed her until 10months), the frantic decision after showering as to stem the lochia is or the milk?! subsided, I did once again manage to function as an independant human being and have a gorgeous independent daughter…..I wish I had read this 6 years ago, it would have given me great comfort!

aimee 1 year ago

Thank you for this. I have been married 2 years now and we want to have a family. I’m so scared to have a child, but reading posts from real mom’s help. Thank you.

louise 1 year ago

Oh my godness!! As I first time pregnant mother you have just scared the living day light out of me!!! I Dont think you should have written this blog! Very unfair to new mother to be!! Everyone’s experience is different!

Miranda 1 year ago

I hope you have fun and be happy with your baby because I want a baby but iam juts 12 year old:-(

Kristina 1 year ago

I think all of this is a tad over dramatic. Things are what you make of it. If you want space, dont let people over. If you want help, ask for it. If something is bothering your baby, look for alternatives online or at Babies r us. Use your god given intuition. I feel bad for people that make it such a misery. I had a 20 hour labor, 4th degree tear (down there) and I survived! It is what you make it and the attitude you choose to have. there are people have been through much worse in the world than having a baby.

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