The Advice for New Parents I Wish I’d Gotten During Pregnancy

Last Updated: January 30, 2024
Liesel Teen, RN-BSN

By Liesel Teen

BSN, RN, Practicing Labor and Delivery Nurse

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Being a mom is by far the greatest joy of my life! But it’s also the most challenging. Going into parenthood I completely underestimated just how hard this beautiful journey would be – which is exactly where this advice for new parents comes in.

You see, I don’t say any of this to scare you! I would do it all over again, in a heartbeat, if it meant I got to be the mama of my two precious boys.

But you know all the cliche things people say about becoming a parent? Guess what, they are true! It’s the most beautiful, fulfilling, exhausting, and challenging adventure I’ve ever been on.

I wouldn’t call myself a seasoned professional by any means – I learn new things about parenting every single day. I do, however, have 7 (!!) years of mama experience!

So today, I’m sharing my advice for new parents to thrive on this wild ride.

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Trust your mama (parent) instinct

If something doesn’t feel right, speak up! If you don’t get the answer you want or it doesn’t sit right with you, put your foot down. You are your little one’s advocate. Sometimes all you need is that gut instinct to tell you something just isn’t right. 

Some mamas feel intimidated when they advocate for themselves or a loved one. This especially holds true if it’s a medical professional or someone deemed an “expert” in a particular field. I’m here to say, don’t let someone’s title, degrees, expertise, or knowledge squash your mama instinct. 

If you don’t feel heard or supported, put your foot down or seek another opinion. Your instinct exists for a reason. I encourage you to listen to it, act on it, and be persistent.

Don’t be afraid to ask for and accept help

I struggled with this one big time when I was a new mama. It felt unnatural for me to ask for or accept help. Let me tell you something though – if I could do it over again, you better believe I would be accepting all the help people have to offer.

People really and truly want to help someone who has recently had a baby. Whether it’s bringing over a meal, folding clothes, getting older siblings out of the house, holding the baby so you can shower, nap, eat, or anything else you might need – let them help!

It makes them feel good about being able to do something (not that this is at all about them) and it (hopefully) makes you feel good by taking something off your plate. A win-win if you ask me!

Practice patience

And no I don’t just mean with your baby. Practice patience with yourself and your partner. You are new at this, your partner is new at this, your baby is new at this, and you are all learning. 

Give yourself grace and allow yourself time to figure out your new self and your new role as a mama.  

Nothing lasts forever

When my boys were little, I would beg for time to speed up when they were sick or in a particularly trying phase. When you are in that difficult moment, it seems like you will never get out. I have been there oh so many times, mama.

I’m here to remind you that eventually your baby will sleep through the night, that illness will pass, that tooth will finally pop through, and you won’t feel so tired all the time.

On the flipside, babies don’t keep. I used to despise when people told me this, especially when I had a tough day, night, or week. But it’s true – time is a thief so enjoy the present as much as you can.

Stay flexible 

This is one of my biggest pieces of advice for labor and birth. But I find it pretty fitting for parenthood too!

Undoubtedly, there will be changes in your plans. Sickness will strike, naps will end early, schedules will get derailed, but life will go on. It took me a while to come to terms with this as a new mom. Once I realized that some things were out of my control, my life got a heck of a lot easier.

Make time for yourself (and your partner, too!)

This is one of the hardest things for a new parent – finding time to do things for yourself. Those first few months feel like all you do is feed, change, and soothe your little one. The cycle repeats itself over and over and over again. It’s close to impossible to find time for anyone, including yourself.

Prioritizing self care is not being selfish! For some, self care looks like grabbing a cup of coffee with a friend or taking a warm bath. For others, self care might be going for a walk or listening to a podcast.

Find your “me” thing and carve out some time to make it happen. This can have a huge positive impact on your mental health. A happier mama typically equals a happier baby so think of it as an investment for both of you! 

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Do a little postpartum prep during pregnancy

I was so focused on the actual labor and birth during both of my pregnancies that I completely neglected postpartum. And I must say that my lack of preparation negatively impacted my experience. 

Even though a lot of my postpartum struggles involved breastfeeding (another area I was totally unprepared for), there were things I could have and should have done during pregnancy to put myself in a better position.

To spare you more words to read, I’ll direct you to my reel which talks about things you can do during pregnancy to prepare for postpartum! Set yourself up for success, mama!

Don’t be afraid to ask questions

This goes along with the mom instinct mentioned above. This is all new to you. Even if it’s not your first, each baby and postpartum experience is different and unique. Whether it’s your first baby or your fifth, I encourage you to ask your questions loud and proud

Don’t compare yourself to other mamas

Dang is this one hard! I think it’s a natural human instinct to compare yourself to others. And unfortunately, it starts at a young age. There is so much pressure to be the smartest, or the funniest, or the prettiest.

Fast forward to parenthood and the pressure continues. Pressure regarding how you feed your baby, what you feed your baby, where you feed your baby – the list goes on and on. As new parents, we put enough pressure on ourselves, we don’t need the added pressure from society, peers, family, etc. 

I know it’s hard. Like really, really hard, but try not to compare yourself to others. You never know what people might have going on inside or how different their reality is from what they post on social media. 

Adjust your expectations 

Last but certainly not least, I would encourage you to adjust your expectations before becoming a mama! Parenting is unlike any other journey you have been on.

You can read all the books, listen to all the podcasts, and take in all the advice, but nothing can fully prepare you for the reality of being a mother.

And much like many things in life, it’s better to set the bar low and be pleasantly surprised than the other way around.

Wrapping up

I sincerely hope that you have found some pearls of wisdom sprinkled throughout this article. Parenthood can be messy, exhausting, and challenging, but man is it beautiful.

There is nothing else in life that compares to looking into the eyes of your new baby for the first time!

You’re going to rock this whole new parent thing, I just know it!

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Liesel Teen, RN-BSN

Liesel Teen

BSN, RN, Practicing Labor and Delivery Nurse

As a labor and delivery nurse, I’ve spent countless hours with women who felt anxious — even fearful — about giving birth. I want you to know it doesn’t have to be that way for you!

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