Things We Wish We Had Known as a New Mom


I asked my mom friends and fellow DC Area Moms Writers “What’s something you wish you’d known as a new mom or that you can’t believe nobody warned you about?”. Here are their responses (I kept it anonymous since some things were quite personal).


Things We Wish We Had Known About Delivery & Time in the Hospital:

“I wish I knew that doulas can go with you at literally any birth you choose. Or that birth doesn’t always have to be awful.”

“I didn’t know that the hospital will give you a belly binder/wrap if you ask. They have them but don’t offer them. You have to know. I wish I had so that I didn’t develop things like abdominal separation. I wish we weren’t told that mom bulge is always normal or that we always fill out faster. That can often mean you have diastasis recti. It can be remedied by physical therapy.”

“No one told me that while I was staying in the hospital after giving birth that I didn’t have to wear the hospital gown. I was so uncomfortable and basically naked because those things are nothing but flags and snaps. I brought clothes, but I thought I had to wear the gown until I was discharged. With my second child, I didn’t make that mistake!”

“That pretty much anything in the hospital room is yours to take! As my nurse told me, you’ve already paid for all of this! Take home as many diapers as you can, formula samples, etc.”

“We had four (amazing) planned home births and had I not seen The Business of Being Born in College, I wouldn’t have realized that home birth is an option. It’s not for everyone, but I am glad it was for us!”

“I wish I’d known that the epidural doesn’t always work! I had banked on getting that epidural, so I never practiced breathing exercises or pain-management techniques. When my epidural failed (after three tries), I was completely unprepared to deal with the pain.”

Things We Wish We Had Known About Life with a Newborn/Infant:

“I didn’t know about meal trains before. I did crockpot meals for my first kid and it was great. Second kid and it wasn’t yummy! Meal trains gave me homecooked meals that changed the way I ate from that point on because the first time I had something that wasn’t healthy, my body knew it! It helped me to heal.”

“That challenging phases (no sleep, teething, potty training, thumb sucking, etc.) do come to an end! Be patient!”

“How much noise newborns make when they sleep!”

“One thing I found out later than I hoped is that going out to dinner with an infant in an actual restaurant is a breeze (compared with taking an older baby). Even with twins. We got so tired of being in our house we finally took them in their carriers to a place down the street and put them under the table. They slept the whole time and we had a lovely dinner with friends!”

“How terrifying newborns are and how at first, you’re just surviving. All while bleeding.  (and not to worry because it gets easier!). I didn’t know anything about the recovery for myself.”

Things We Wish We Had Known About Newborn Care:

“I wish I’d known that they (babies) don’t need to be bathed every day and it doesn’t have to be in the evening! This helped me relax more especially as I went back to work.”

“I wish I had been warned about how awful the cord smells as it dries up. Also, that zippered pajamas are 204939 times better than snapped pajamas.”

“I wish someone told me how to properly care for the circumcision (how to pull the skin back to clean). Apparently, I wasn’t it doing it properly and my son ended up having to have another procedure because the skin fused.”

“I wish I’d known not to compare my baby’s progress to others. Babies develop differently and on different timelines, and it doesn’t mean anything is wrong.”

“We kept both of our sons’ penises intact (uncircumcised). I wish I had known that we are only to “clean what is seen” and aren’t supposed to forcibly retract the foreskin. And when visiting the pediatrician let them know that we aren’t retracting the foreskin. Nowadays it is the norm to not retract, but when our first was born some thought it was supposed to be retracted, his penis was forcibly retracted and it caused him a lot of pain. That the first person to retract the foreskin should be that boy himself. When they are old enough to retract their penis they will learn to clean it just like other parts of their bodies.”

Things We Wish We Had Known About Relationships with Partners:

“I wish someone would have warned me that no sleep + no grown-up time = more bickering with my husband. And it passes, well usually.”

“I wish I’d known that I will resent my partner at times during the newborn period. That he wouldn’t necessarily naturally know how to help and that my life (and his) would be easier once I learned to just tell him exactly what I needed.”

“That finding little ways to laugh and find joy can help bind you together when we are at our wits end with newborn care.”

Things We Wish We Had Known About Our Post-Delivery Recovery:

“I wish someone had told me about the post-delivery protocol (and major discomfort). The spray bottle, the bleeding, the ice packs, the mesh underwear. I had no idea.”

“Postpartum cramps with second/third baby are much stronger. I almost gave up breastfeeding with my second because I couldn’t with the pain. Thankfully a friend gave me some natural supplements that made it better (always check with your doctor first).”

“I wish I had known about how horrible (sorry this is totally TMI!!) pooping is after giving birth! It is painful and absolutely terrifying. I preemptively thought about this before having our fourth and purposefully ate Grape Nuts every day to make sure I was getting loads of fiber and this go-round and this time, I was fine. I am so grateful! But wish I knew how important it was to make sure to get gobs of fiber to help things get back to work in our bodies.”

“That the first post-partum poop is not a game. I remember a lot of cursing, sweating and then pleading with God.”

“I wish I’d known the extent of the post-delivery bleeding.”

“To stock up on pads for post-delivery bleeding. After nine months of no periods, I was out, and my husband had to make an emergency trip to the store after we got home from the hospital.”

“That when you finally get your period back, the first one will be awful!”

Things We Wish We Had Known About Diapers & Poop:

“That continuous blowouts usually mean you need to go to the next diaper size.”

“That babies’ onesies have those little folds at the shoulder, so you don’t have to take them off over the baby’s head when there has been a ? explosion. I discovered this too late and couldn’t believe I didn’t know!”

“That with boys, you should point the pee-pee down when changing his diaper (or you may get a golden shower to the face!”).

“I wish I’d known not to stock up on too many diapers in one size because you don’t know how quickly you will go to the next size (and then have a bunch of extra diapers that are too small).”

Things We Wish We Had Known About Baby Gear:

“One thing that I wish I would have realized is how much we don’t need to buy things brand spanking new! Now with our fourth, almost everything in our house is a hand me down and I much prefer it that way. It’s not wasteful and we are reusing what we have or buying things used on FB marketplace and I love it! Then, when we are done with the swing (or whatever), I can easily pass it on to someone else and it isn’t cluttering up our place.”

“I wish someone had told me how babies really don’t need much. Diapers, wipes, onesies, swaddles and a safe place to sleep. The nursery and fancy toys can wait!”

“I wish someone had told me that the chest clip of the car seat needs to be pushed up to the chest, not left lower on the stomach. Someone eventually told me when I posted a photo on social media of my son in his car seat and I was horrified I had been doing it the unsafe way until then (because new mom anxiety, right?).”

Things We Wish We Had Known About New Mom Mental Health & Well-being:

“One thing that I wish I knew is how important it is to prioritize sleep for mental health. Any time I would start to feel overwhelmed, sad, anxious, I would take a nap and feel SO much better about life. Also, I wish I knew how the baby phase is just a phase and how I need to try to enjoy it (even though the baby won’t let me put them down). Sleep deprivation is no joke.”

“I wish I had known about mom’s groups and had joined one. I was unprepared for how lonely it would be at times being home with the baby.”

“That not everyone feels an immediate connection to their baby. I felt numb at first and didn’t feel that rush of love/euphoria everyone talks about right away. It made me feel so guilty and like something was wrong with me. It came later for me. I’ve talked to others who experienced the same thing. I wish I had known that this may happen and that it doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with you or that you don’t love your baby.”

“To get out the house! I can think of nothing more important for sanity. Due to a series of unfortunate events, I didn’t leave the house for 10 consecutive days and am still scarred by the experience.”

“I wish someone had told me to be kind to myself and not to compare myself and my baby to others. To also trust my own instincts.”

“How common postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety are and how there are varying levels. Most people are going to have some sort of baby blues, especially in the beginning and when you stop breastfeeding.”

“I wish someone had told me about the emotions/hormones and feeling resentful of people who probably really want to help.”

Things We Wish We Had Known About Feeding:

“I wish I’d known that babies only need a few drops of milk each feeding for the first couple of days. It took so much pressure off with my second baby!”

“That if you formula feed, you can make bottles in advance and save them in the fridge. I legit had no idea — it was a game-changer. (Though, the ULTIMATE formula game-changer was the Baby Brezza — which is essentially a Baby Keurig).”

“I heard this in my pregnancy class, but cracked nipples can happen with nursing. When it happens (it did to me for the first baby!) exposing nipples to air (constantly) helps them heal quickly. And that nursing through cracked nipples is doable. Painful since they are cracked and healing, but doable.”

“I wish I’d known that while exclusive breastfeeding is wonderful, a healthy mom is more important for a baby’s well-being. If you are struggling to breastfeed and it’s affecting your mental health, there is no shame in supplementing or switching to formula. Fed is best!”

“I wish I’d known that breastfeeding doesn’t always come naturally and that a lactation consultant can really help.”

“The first week of breastfeeding is overwhelming, the first month of breastfeeding is hard, and after two months of breastfeeding, it is like second nature!”

Things We Wish We Had Known About Siblings:

“I wish I didn’t read books about preparing the child for their sibling. Everything always works out and it’s better to just shower them with love and to let them know that some things, like your love for them, will not change. And that just because they’re going to be a sibling does not suddenly mean that things will get harder for them as some books will suggest you make them aware.”

Do you have anything to add to this list? We’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment below.

This article was originally published in November 2019.

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Mallory Eastman
Mallory is a digital marketer and mom to an energetic toddler. She lives in NW DC with her husband and son. Born and raised in Tampa, Florida, Mallory moved to DC in 2007 after graduating from Wake Forest University (go Deacs!). Mallory went to graduate school for Health Communication & Marketing, so she especially enjoys writing about health-related topics. She’s an advocate for all things in moderation, including moderation. Likes: sauv blanc, Netflix, true crime, all things crafty. Dislikes: winter, traffic, non-adherence to the courtesy wave. All of my opinions are my own and do not reflect the views of my employer.


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