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5 things no one told me about life with a newborn

Alice Gomstyn By Alice Gomstyn

Baby laughing

When I was pregnant with my first child, I heard plenty of assurances about how much I’d love my baby, the joy I’d take in his or her every grin and giggle. And yes, that’s all true. But as I later learned, caring for a newborn baby can also be overwhelming. Here are a few challenges faced by lots of new moms, and tips for getting past them — from someone who’s been there.

1. Your loving arms will get tired.

Your baby’s favorite place will be in your arms, but even someone who weighs less than 10 pounds can weigh you down after a while. A Moses basket or a bouncer does the job nicely. And if your baby absolutely, positively has to be near you? Try wearing your little one. Using a carrier or wrap gives your baby the comfort of being right next to you, leaving your hands free to open doors, carry bags and grab a snack.

2. One diaper changing location may not be enough.

Your baby’s room may have a changing table, but think about where else you might change your darling. If you have a two-story house, going up and down stairs just to swap out a diaper is going to get tiresome, especially if you’re still recovering from childbirth. Consider keeping baskets with a towel or disposable changing pads, wipes and diaper cream around your home as makeshift changing stations.

Learn more life hacks for moms caring for a newborn and other kids.

3. Guests will appear. In droves.

New parents can be deluged by visits from well-meaning family and friends. But hosting people at home may require more energy than you have to give. If you’re uncomfortable having visitors so soon after your baby’s birth, politely explain that now is not a great time, but you’ll be excited to see them in a month or two. And of course, if a visit is unavoidable, keep it simple: Order pizza, use paper plates — and don’t stress if your house is a mess.

4. Nursing isn’t always easy.

You’ve probably seen media images of mothers smiling blissfully as they nurse their contented newborns. In reality, new moms may face a range of breastfeeding challenges, from not producing enough milk to infants who don’t latch on properly. The good news: Lactation consultants can guide you through your nursing struggles. Ask your obstetrician or pediatrician for a recommendation — and check your health plan for discounts or reimbursements on any gear or support you may need. If you’re an Aetna member, find out more about lactation consultant and breast pump coverage.

Read about where to find quick answers to all kinds of family health questions.

5. You may feel like a clueless, hot mess.

In a celebrity-obsessed world, parents are flooded with images of lavish nurseries and moms and babies dressed in coordinated (and stainless!) outfits. Take heart: Real parents aren’t picture-perfect. “When I had my own children, I’d been an OB nurse for years. But I remember still feeling so helpless and silly,” says Ruth Sill, a registered nurse at Aetna. “Try to laugh at yourself, and remember to talk to friends with kids who are three months older than your own — they will reassure you that you learn so much as you go along.”

Discover simple ways to reduce your stress level in 10 minutes or less.

But what do you do when you’re stressed about getting the important stuff wrong? While there’s a wealth of information available for new parents, it’s important to find sources you can trust. The free Text4Baby service sends three texts a week with helpful advice on nutrition, preventing SIDS and more.

Check your health insurance plan for additional educational programs and materials about pregnancy and new motherhood, like Aetna’s Beginning Right Maternity Program.

About the author

Alice Gomstyn is a veteran parenting blogger and business reporter. She is an admitted sugar addict but plans to cut back on the sweet stuff and load up on veggies like never before. Bring on the broccoli!