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It was nearly five years ago when I gave birth to my very first baby. I was young and anxious and wanted to prove to the world that I could do it. I never asked for help. In fact, I think I refused it. I stressed out about feeding schedules and pumping and whether or not her stool was the color it was supposed to be. I remember being in Target for an inaugural mama/daughter "date" when my daughter started to whimper. It wasn't even a cry, and I was completely flustered. I gathered her up, left my things in the cart and booked it out of the store.
Since then, I have given birth to two more girls. My anxiety about feeding and safety and sleep have gone away and my trips to Target have gotten a lot more... interesting.
In our "no regrets" world, it's hard to admit when we make a mistake. It's hard to look back on something and point out what we wish we'd done differently. I asked around and got some great feedback from some more experienced moms. Nearly half of the mothers I polled said that they wish they would have relaxed and enjoyed their babies more. If you are expecting your own little bundle of joy, take heart and gain a little wisdom from these experienced first-time moms who share their regrets.
"I wish I would have quit comparing and just gone with my gut! With my first I worried about everything: was my baby eating too frequently, was she rolling over soon enough, was she sleeping through the night like my friends' babies?" - Ashley Dawson, mom of 2
"I wish I had been better prepared for postpartum depression and sought help. I feel like I became so irrational and didn't get to really enjoy my new baby or new mommyhood." - Kristel Acevedo, mom of 2
"I wish I would have been as laid back with my first as I have been with my second baby. I was too hyper and controlling the first time around. Now I just say, 'it's all good.' " - Jodi Pitts, mom of 2
"I wish I would have avoided a nipple shield. The nurse insisted I use it and that my baby would take to the breast without one just fine. But she never did. So I had to take that shield with me everywhere for months. Such a pain! My other girls learned to nurse just fine and we never needed the intervention." - Lacy Stroessner, mom of 3
"I wish I was more comfortable asserting myself in the delivery room. I felt that since I was a first- time mom and not familiar with what was going on that I was pushed into medical interventions that I don't think were necessary. It was not a pleasant experience and I am looking forward to a different one this time around." - Lindsay Brekke, mom of 2
"I wish I would have done a journal or weekly pics. I didn't document either pregnancies very well." - Jenny Johnson, mom of 2
I wish I would have known that it's not unusual not to feel an instant connection with your baby.
"I wish I would have know how challenging breastfeeding can be. We still nurse (I love it) and I plan to until Lincoln is one, but there were several lactation consultant appointments and lots of tears those first few months. I assumed it was easy like the movies show." - Melissa Chambers, mom of 1
"I wish that I would have stood up for myself and my baby at the hospital. I was so bullied into letting certain people be in the room when he was delivered and letting Dad feed him a bottle of formula. I feel like it really took a toll on me enjoying the birth and first few days of my son." - Kamille Dy, mom of 1
"I didn't work out while I was pregnant. I wish I would have done daily yoga. While I didn't have any problems really, I think I would have been well served postpartum to have that routine." - Kelley Gilbert, mom of 2
"I wish I would have said no visitors at the hospital so I could have relaxed, recovered, and focused on my baby instead of playing hostess. I hated sharing my bundle of joy so soon." - Crystal Kent, mom of 2
"I wish I would have trusted my instincts about letting my first baby sleep through the night much earlier on. I was waking her twice through the night for feedings because that was what the pediatrician and all of the books had told me I MUST DO and we were both struggling. It was impossible to keep her awake to nurse and we were both cranky every morning. One night when she was about 5 weeks old I slept through my alarms and she never woke to eat! I felt like a total failure… until I realized that she had woken up happier than she had in many days!" - Jenny Yarbrough, mom of 3
"I wish I wouldn't have stressed so much thinking my baby wasn't getting enough to eat. I let the nurses and lactation consultants totally freak me out. I was constantly feeding and watching the clock to make sure it was long enough! I ended up with horrible oversupply issues and gave up because I was so frustrated and uncomfortable. Even when I switched to bottles I worried if he didn't eat the whole thing! It was nuts and caused a lot of undue stress." - Carla Wiking, mom of 2
"I wish I would have known that it's not unusual not to feel an instant connection with your baby. It took me about 6 weeks before I really felt connected." - Andrea Laird Pannell, mom of 3
It took me a long time to realize that friends, family, the pediatrician, etc. are there to help and to guide you, but that you don't HAVE to do exactly the same as they did
"I wish someone had told me to eliminate dairy from my diet to see if it would have helped my baby's stomach problems. He was sensitive to tomatoes & garlic but ten years ago I never even thought about dairy. Milk, supposed to do a body good right? Now, I can't even look at dairy and my youngest is intolerant. I just know it would have helped him while I was nursing." - Stacy Teet, mom of 3
"I wish I would have let people help more. It was a whirlwind when I had to have my baby so suddenly and I wish I would have been more relaxed about letting people help. Everything they did for me, I was so grateful. but I was so apologetic about it all." - Melanie Leonard, mom of 2
"The first time around I was so worried about money (we were very young and very broke) that I sacrificed on a lot of things I wish I hadn't. We didn't buy a swing, which we later learned was a lifesaver and we had to borrow one; I had a mediocre pump that made working and nursing harder than it needed to be; I hate her crib and her stroller—they're ugly and not great quality; she has no "heirloom" outfit to hand down later. None of these are earth-shattering, but I wish I'd scrounged up some money to do at least one of them." - Nicole Clemens, mom of 2
"I wish I would've researched diet and lifestyle choices I could make preconception to positively influence my baby's and my own health. My first daughter had terrible colic and still has some lingering health issues that I believe were caused by nutrient deficiencies due to my poor diet before and during pregnancy. I transitioned to a more nourishing diet (Weston A. Price) during my second pregnancy and my second and third daughters were much more content babies and continue to be in better health." - Miranda Wulff Altschuler, mom of 3
"I regret not listening to my motherly instinct. It took me a long time to realize that friends, family, the pediatrician, etc. are there to help and to guide you, but that you don't HAVE to do exactly the same as they did or suggest if it doesn't work for you and your baby. Every baby is different and different things are going to work best for you and your specific baby, and sometimes listening to everyone else just adds more stress than is necessary." - Devin Lynch, mom of 3
"I wish that I would've made more of an effort to continue nursing as opposed to just pumping after I went back to work. Due to working all day, it started as just our schedules being off from one another. To this day, I still just exclusively pump. It's time away from my baby and a lot of extra bottle parts to wash!" - Kerra Hatcher, mom of 1
"I wish I would have been strong and said no to an induction. Or at least asked to push it back. But Christmas was approaching and I was anxious to hold my girlie and everyone kept asking me when I would 'pop that baby out.' In fact, if I had to do it all again, I'd never tell anyone my due date." - Jill Fowler Dorsey, mom of 2
"I wish I would have put down all those parenting books I read while I was pregnant. It was information overload and stressed me out when my natural parenting instincts didn't match everything I read." - Darcy Zalewski, mom of 2
"I wish I would have slept when the baby slept. It took me 8 months before I finally gave in and started napping on the weekends when our daughter napped. Now, we are on to kid #2 and my husband and I, without fail, nap every single Saturday and Sunday while our daughters, ages 3 and 1, go down for their afternoon naps. We are dreading the day the older one gives hers up!" - Leslie Goldman Alter, mom of 2
"I wish I would have allowed my husband to photograph me nursing our daughter. He thought it was so beautiful and wanted to capture it. I was too self conscious about my post-baby body. I would LOVE to have pictures like that now." - Elizabeth Flora Ross, mom of 1