Being a new mom is one of the sweetest and most challenging gifts a woman could ever be given. Still, after weeks of no sleep, hundreds of dirty diapers, and the anxiety of questioning every decision, most moms are in desperate need of some encouraging words from those who’ve gone before them.
In this post, Cindy Singleton delivers some much-needed encouragement with these 10 things that every new mom needs to hear.
I‘m not sure I can do this.”
I’ve heard those words from each of my three daughters.
When my girls became first-time moms, I was there when they brought their babies home and stayed until the time seemed right for me to go. But no matter how long I stayed, the inevitable goodbyes were difficult.
Choking back tears, each daughter struggled to find enough courage to tackle the daunting task of mothering on her own. Sure, they all had helpful and loving husbands, but the day-to-day task of feeding, soothing, and finding the answers to all the mothering dilemmas were on them.
Motherhood is magically wonderful, but it’s also challenging and demanding.
I never doubted my daughters were up to the task, but as new moms they were unsure of themselves. That’s why my goodbyes were filled with assurances that my daughters could, indeed, “do this.” Then I reminded them of my encouraging words for new moms.
1. LOOK AROUND
No one prepared for a first baby more than I did. I poured over baby care books, attended classes, and asked every mom I knew―ad nauseum―every question I could think of. That’s why no one was more startled than me the day my husband and I arrived home from the hospital with our brand new baby girl. In spite of all the learning and exploring I’d done, when we finally closed the door with only the two of us and our baby, I burst into tears and said, “I’m not sure I can do this!”
That’s what I reminded my daughters. Their own mom―who they now consider an expert in mothering―started out without a clue about what to do. And I’d venture to say most moms are in the same boat.
You’re not the first mom to question herself. There are generations of unsure new moms who’ve gone before you. That’s why libraries of books have been written about baby care. No woman has all the answers, and the ones who are honest will tell you they made plenty of mistakes as a new mom.
So, look around and know you’re not alone. When you see a mom who seems to have it all together, know for certain that she likely started out feeling exactly like you do.
2. THERE IS STRENGTH AVAILABLE WHEN YOU HAVE NONE
When my daughters were born, my husband worked overseas. He left for work when our firstborn was 10 days old, while I was still in the hospital with our second, and when our youngest was two weeks old. Each time he left, he was gone for one to three months. All that to say, I know what it feels like to be physically and emotionally exhausted.
Any mama will tell you there’s no tired like ‘newborn baby’ tired. Unfortunately, babies have to be fed frequently, and most aren’t born with good sleep patterns. Add to that the hormonal imbalances that accompany post-childbirth, and most moms are left bone-tired.
The problem is, there’s no quick solution. Few new moms have the privilege of a live-in helper who’ll rock the baby while you sleep during the day. But even that doesn’t eliminate emotional exhaustion.
New moms need supernatural strength. The good news is, it’s readily available! No matter how weak you feel, God has said, “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).
You don’t have to do it all. Ask for help when you need it. Accept kind gestures from friends or family members who want to help. And ask the Lord to supply you with His strength.
3. DO YOU
Someone said, “There’s no way to be a perfect mother, but there are a million ways to be a good one.”
New moms face so many choices. Do I breastfeed or bottle feed? Use a pacifier or make my baby self-soothe? Whatever your answer is, it’s the right one. I like to remind my daughters that most formula-fed babies of my generation were fed a concoction of karo syrup and evaporated milk. Not only did I survive, I flourished! So, don’t panic. Stay calm. And make the next best choice that’s right for your baby and you.
Resist the temptation to compare your mothering skills to anyone else, including moms on social media. You didn’t enter a contest when you became a mom. You took on the greatest adventure of your life, and you’re free to carve a path for your own child. Some of the best words of wisdom for new moms include the fact that motherhood is naturally messy, whereas social media images are often cropped, filtered, and orchestrated. When in doubt, don’t worry about what everyone else is doing. Just go back to the basics and choose the path you’re comfortable with.
4. YOU’LL BE AN EXPERT BEFORE YOU KNOW IT
As a new mom, you won’t magically know what to do. No new mom does. So, ask for advice, research online, and then make your best choice. You’ll be amazed by how quickly you turn from a novice into an expert!
When my oldest daughter gave birth to her first child, she was as anxious and fearful as any new mom. Three months in, she received a call from a friend with a two-week-old. Listening to their conversation, I couldn’t help but smile. My daughter―who just weeks before had said, “I’m not sure I can do this”―was counseling and advising her new friend on a multitude of baby topics.
In a matter of three months, my daughter had transformed from an uncertain, hesitant mom to an expert in newborn care. That’s how quickly motherhood trains you. One minute you have no idea what you’re doing, and the next minute you’re giving advice to another mom in need. There’s no training like life experience, and motherhood provides plenty of it.
5. LIFE CHANGES FAST
While in the throes of caring for a new baby, it’s tempting to think the newborn season will never end. But every mom will tell you that infancy is fleeting. The sleepless nights, fussiness, and confusion about why your baby is crying will all dissolve into new stages like teething, growth spurts, and which sippy cup to use.
Some of the best encouragement for new moms includes both bad news and good news. The bad news is, your newborn’s soft skin, long naps, and coos will soon pass. In fact, you’ll barely be able to embrace the stage you’re in before it’s gone. But now for the good news. The swift passing of this season means the stress of navigating the earliest weeks of your child’s life won’t last forever.
When life is hard or you feel like you can’t make it, hold onto the fact that this window of time will soon close and give way to a new season in your child’s life. And with each new season, you’ll feel more confident as a mom.
6. TAKE NAPS
No doubt you’ll find motherhood exhausting. The newborn stage is especially exhausting because it’s new, your sleep is broken, and your hormones may be out of whack. Sleep deprivation is a serious subject, so let’s talk about it.
Sleep is critical to your well-being and to your ability to be a good mom. Lack of sleep can make you irritable, depressed, and less likely to enjoy your baby. So, for the sake of you, your little one, and your family members, take my advice and choose a nap every time you can. That means when your little one snoozes, give yourself permission to sleep too. The housework will still be there when you wake up, and you’ll be more equipped to tackle the rest of your day.
Don’t be surprised if you find yourself in survival mode. It’s normal, so give yourself a break. Wear the same sweats every day if you want to, give yourself permission to order takeout, and congratulate yourself for keeping everyone alive for one more day.
7. NO ONE’S JOB IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN YOURS
When you become a mom, your mission field becomes your home. No one else in the world has been appointed to go where you’re allowed to enter. As a mom, you will always have access to your child’s heart in a way no one else ever will. You’ll have the power to teach, encourage, influence, and love your son or daughter in a way that no one else on earth can do. That means you’re in a prime position to turn their hearts toward the Lord.
When you begin to wonder if your life has disintegrated into endless diaper changes and countless feedings, remind yourself of your powerful role as a mother/missionary. As you lovingly care for your baby, you’re introducing him or her to the unconditional love of God.
“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock” (Matthew 7:24-25).
8. IT’S OKAY IF YOU DON’T LOVE THE NEWBORN PHASE
My oldest daughter never played with dolls. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t entice her to dress, rock, or hug the collection of porcelain, Cabbage Patch, and lifelike dolls that sat neglected in her room. Her younger sister, on the other hand, was so attached to her baby dolls, we had to make special arrangements for her to take her favorite doll along on the first day of preschool. True to form, the oldest would have been happier if her children had entered the world as teenagers, while her sister was enthralled with every stage of babyhood.
It’s perfectly okay if you find you don’t love the baby phase. Not everyone does. But that doesn’t mean you’re not a good mom. You may become the mom who adores being the elementary homeroom mother, or―like my oldest daughter―the one who loves hosting crowds of lively teenagers! No season of parenting lasts long, so embrace where you are and be assured there is a stage of parenting where you’ll feel right at home.
9. LONELY IS NORMAL
No matter how many family members or friends are in your life, mothering will, at times, feel lonely. Moms of newborns are naturally isolated from their normal routines, and that can mean fewer opportunities to meet with friends or work colleagues. On top of that, 24/7 caretaking is exhausting and leaves little energy for social interactions.
It’s important to remember you’re never really alone. Jesus assured us, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5b). That means while you’re feeding your baby in the middle of the night, when you’re left alone with a tired or cranky infant, or when it seems you’re the only one not out having fun, God is with you. And “he cares about you” (1 Peter 5:7b, NLT).
On another note, if you experience persistent feelings of loneliness, suffer from regular bouts of depression, or feel the urge to harm your baby, please reach out to someone for help. Talk to a trusted friend or pastor, or seek professional counseling. It’s not at all uncommon for hormonal imbalances, exhaustion, or fluctuating emotions to add more stress than moms can handle on their own.
10. TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS
I’ve lost count of the number of times I instinctively knew why one of my babies was crying, whether or not they were sick, or if something was simply ‘off’. No one on this earth will know your baby quite like you do. So, trust your gut. Go with your instincts and follow them through. Chances are, you’ll nail it.
Precious new mom, you’re embarking on the most important, demanding, and wonderful season of your life! Nothing compares to the call of motherhood, where you have an opportunity to model divine grace, demonstrate unconditional love, and shape human lives. When the days seem long and difficult, I hope you’ll look back on these encouraging words for new moms and be assured you’ve got what it takes.
What encouraging words would you give a new mom? Or what was the best advice someone gave you? Share with us in the comments!
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Such insightful and grace-filled advice! Passing this along to my daughter who is expecting our first grandchild in a few weeks. Great reminders for me, too.
Lori Ann, on the impending arrival of your new grandchild! What an exciting time! My daughters all wanted and needed these reminders. I hope they’ll be a blessing to your daughter too:)
Oops! That should have read CONGRATULATIONS on the impending arrival!
Great reminders, Cindy. As a mother with a daughter who is now a mother herself, I consider one of my most important jobs is to encourage her in her job as a mother. No one has it all together or knows everything, and you will find 1,001 ways to get a baby to sleep through the night or how to get the baby to breastfeed. Eventually, you need to trust yourself and do what is best for you and the baby and stop listening to the 500 voices telling you to do it differently. I am so glad I did not have the internet telling me I was doing it all wrong when I was a mother.