How To Survive Being New To Motherhood

a woman combing the hair of a baby girl

Being new to motherhood comes with challenges and questions. Don’t worry. You’re not alone. Here’s how to survive being new to motherhood.

by Laura Onstot | Laura Onstot, registered nurse and mom of 2 young kids, rarely pees alone, only frequents restaurants with Kraft Mac N Cheese, and blogs at Nomad’s Land. In her spare time, she can be found sleeping on the couch while she lets her kids watch endless episodes of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. Her parenting advice is questionable, but at least she’s honest. Follow her on Twitter @LauraOnstot.

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You’re about to have your first baby. Congrats! During your pregnancy, you have focused on getting to the end: the labor and delivery. But when you get to the end, staring at the little squishy-faced baby who they inform you is yours, you realize you are at the beginning. And this journey does not end until you die.

Welcome to motherhood. It may feel overwhelming, but it’s not. Follow these simple steps and you’ll survive being new to motherhood.

tattooed mother carrying her cute baby
Photo by Anna Shvets on

1: Take Comfort in Short Naps

According to no one ever, a leading expert on everything, the human body does not need sleep. In fact, you will thrive without it. Have you heard of the 30-day water-only fasts? The lady in the Netflix documentary said she didn’t even feel hungry. It’s like that, except it’s a five-year, no-sleep fast. Your life will become easier when you recognize that sleep just isn’t going to happen.

Lower your expectations, and you will be pleasantly surprised by a 7-minute nap.

2: Form Alliances

Now listen, I’m not going to say you should pawn your child off on any person you can find… but I would highly recommend it. The lady at Target who comments on how cute she is? Just sneak your baby into her cart when she’s ordering her deli meat. Then, go nap in the dressing rooms.

“Is that really an alliance?” you may ask. Well, Oxford Languages defines an alliance as, “a union or association formed for mutual benefit.” Target lady will be pleased to acquire a new baby, and you will be pleased to acquire a nap. It sounds like an alliance to me.

3: Sacrifice your breasts to razor-sharp gums or take out a second mortgage to pay for formula (if you can find it). 

Every time my baby latched, I envisioned razor blades slicing into an apple, my nipples being the apple. This only lasted for three months, so if you are in the same boat I was, have faith. It gets better until your baby starts cutting teeth, but I will save that topic for another article.

If you aren’t going for the razors to your nips route, set off on a journey to hunt down formula. You survived pregnancy during a global pandemic, and obviously, things need to be more complicated. Which is why formula is darn near impossible to find.

When you do find it, prepare to go into debt. Maybe call Dave Ramsey for advice, I don’t know.

4: Prepare for a Disaster

Sure, you know that hurricanes, tornadoes, and tsunamis are all forms of natural disasters. But no one warned you that newborn babies are also on that list. Put six months of food and water next to a chair, which will be the chair you are chained to as you feed your demanding child. Make sure to include your phone charger, or you will be separated from the world as you know it. Missing signs will appear with your face on them, captioned “Last seen shirtless, feeding a grouchy baby”.

And if you don’t want to die of boredom, make sure a remote is nearby.

5: Learn the chin hold

If you are going to bottle feed your child at any point in time, there’s a skill that veteran parents know. If you get bored in your chair, feeding your slow eater of a baby, fear not! You can still get tasks done! Simply hold your baby in one arm and hold the bottle under your chin. You will have one hand and the mobility to get shit done. You’re welcome.

Your life will truly change once you nail down the skill of the chin hold while doing squats to pick things up off the floor. It is multi-tasking at its finest. And to those who can do the chin hold while uncorking a wine bottle? That’s some Olympic-level skill right there.

6: Hire a marriage counselor.

Sure, your marriage survived the fight about who ate the last brownie, but will it survive being woken up every 20 minutes to soothe an inconsolable baby?

If you are breastfeeding, you will forever hold it against your husband that he can’t feed your child. If you are formula feeding, he will never be able to mix that formula fast enough. Find the best therapist you can, and go into further debt to save your marriage. Again, consider calling Dave Ramsey.

7: Make friends with the right people

Go about this however you feel appropriate, but find a friend who is a pediatric nurse or doctor, a teacher, and a sleep expert. Tap them for all the free advice you can get. I have a pharmacist, oral surgeon, teacher, and nurse friends on speed dial. I’m sure they love it when they receive my texts, “Does this look like a tick bite?” or Facetime calls, “Do we need to take this head laceration to the ER?”

These are the people who have guided a lot of important decisions in our life. I trust them, which helps when my over-protective mom anxiety has me convinced I need to take my kid to the ER for a paper cut.

They say it takes a village to raise kids. And while we aren’t exactly in the day of sending kids over to the covered wagon across from us, a village can still exist in the form of urgent texts and Facetime calls.

8: Fake it ‘til ya make it

You know the annoying people who always appear to have it together, and always seem to know what they are doing? They don’t- it’s an act. Is your baby not sleeping? Do they frequently have blowouts? Are your nipples about to fall off? Put some makeup on, smile at those bitches, and pretend you know what you are doing. Everyone will believe you do, except for your spouse and your baby.

You’ve got this, Mama!

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