Set yourself up for success, BEFORE baby arrives! These are the things I wish someone had told me, and now I want to tell all new moms.

Pregnant first-time moms get a lot of advice, and so much of it sounds great at the time… “sleep when baby sleeps” …of course I will, I love sleep! Okay, check.

“Don’t be afraid to ask for help” …Yes, I’ll be a new mom, of course I’ll need help. I have no problem asking for help when I’m overwhelmed.

“If breastfeeding doesn’t work out, just feed formula!” Yes, I know that fed is best, of course I will do whatever it takes to keep my baby fed!

But let me tell you, Mama… once that baby comes, your hormones do crazy things to you. Your instincts as a new mom make you think that no one can possibly get the bottles clean enough except you. So many well-meaning people will tell you how great it is that you’re trying to breastfeed, and it’s hard so just keep trying, that you will obsess over trying to 100% breastfeed that baby. Which is great if you can do it without going crazy yourself.

But I’m here to tell you from the other side… your baby needs YOU, not your breastmilk. If you are spending precious waking moments making the lactation recipes and drinking the gross lactation teas and pumping instead of holding your precious baby because you are so sure they NEED to be on 100% breastmilk, I am here to tell you they don’t need that.

Please, do not look back on your first 3 months of your baby’s life and only remember how much you obsessed over how to feed your baby, instead of actually enjoying being with your baby. Your new-mom breastmilk-producing hormones will convince you this is all that matters. That’s evolution talking, from when we had no healthy alternative like formula. Even though our brains know there is an alternative, our bodies haven’t figured that out yet. Set a boundary BEFORE you are in the trenches of this, while you are not yet sleep-deprived.

BEFORE baby comes, tell your spouse what you will need help with. Be specific. “I will need you to do the laundry even though I usually prefer to do it myself. These are the settings I like to use. Push these buttons in this order and use this detergent.” Or, “I need you to make sure I take a shower every day by 8pm, while you watch the baby.”

Some men are great at this. Most honestly need this coaching. Believe me, you WILL NOT want to do the coaching while you are in the thick of it and feeling tired and emotional. You will be mad he doesn’t just KNOW what to do. You will snap at him when he showers AGAIN today, while you haven’t showered in 3 days…  but he has no idea because you are an adult woman and up to this point he has never needed to keep track of your showering habits. Set up expectations before you are in the emotionally fragile first weeks of being a new mom.

Finally, it is 100% okay to NOT hold your precious newborn every second. People love to tell new moms to “enjoy every minute” and “soak up all the baby snuggles”. It’s true… enjoy those days when your baby cannot get into much trouble yet, and gaze at their cute little nose in wonder.

BUT, you also need to get some sleep. Put that baby down in the bassinet or crib, hand them to the doting aunt or grandma or your best friend (all of whom probably get to go home and get a full night’s uninterrupted sleep after they leave your house), and go take a nap or a shower. Don’t waste those moments doing dishes or laundry because someone who hasn’t just birthed a baby could do those tasks for you. Spend the time they give you taking care of yourself. Your slightly more rested (or clean) body will thank you.

So, Mama, set yourself up for success. New moms don’t have to be lonely. Talk to your loved ones before the baby comes, and have a plan for taking care of you. As I always try to remember, you can’t pour from an empty cup. Let those around you help you top off your cup.