This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of 1 Natural Way, a TRICARE breast pump provider. All opinions are entirely my own.
Glancing up at the clock, I was shocked to discover it was five in the morning.
“Sleep when the baby sleeps,” was the first piece of advice I remember getting from a seasoned mama, but my eyelids wouldn’t stay shut no matter how hard I tried.
If I couldn’t accomplish this simple task, how was I ever going to survive motherhood?
Maybe it was the rush of post-labor hormones or the fact that I’d just consumed an entire box of Thin Mints (the hospital dining facility had closed before I could place an order, and that’s all I had on hand). Or, maybe it was the mix of excitement and fear of what it meant to embark on this new journey. Whatever the case, I’d been up all night, snuggling my perfect newborn son and stroking his rosy, peach-fuzz cheeks.
Since then, I’ve learned not every piece of parenting advice applies to any given circumstance, but it’s important for mothers to continue encouraging, supporting and empowering each other anyway.
With this in mind, I’ve compiled a few of my own (well-meaning) tips for motherhood – from one military spouse and mama to another.
Purchase gently-used items from other spouses.
When my first baby was born, I was blindsided by the sheer amount of “stuff” parenting magazines and websites said I needed to survive the first years of motherhood. Keeping a baby fed, dressed and happy is tough on a young military family budget.
Before paying full-price for new clothes, furniture or toys your baby will grow out of in the blink of an eye, consider reaching out to friends with older children, browse local Facebook yard sale groups, and stop by the thrift store on your installation. You save money while supporting fellow military spouse mamas. Win-win!
Get a free breast pump from 1 Natural Way.
Even though buying used is a great way to save money on most baby items, there are certain products that simply need to be purchased brand new. I’m looking at you, breast pump. Speaking from experience, the cost of breastfeeding equipment (storage bags, replacement tubing and breast shields, for example) adds up quickly.
Did you know there’s a resource for military families that offers free high-quality insurance breast pumps? 1 Natural Way works with TRICARE to support new moms by providing them with preferred models, including the Medela Freestyle, the Medela Pump in Style Tote/Backpack and the Spectra S1 Breast Pump, at no out-of-pocket cost.
Aside from the part that you don’t have to put a major dent in your budget to pay for the pump, what I love most about this program is that 1 Natural Way has made it a priority to take the stress out of the process (because, new moms have enough on their plates already). A representative reaches out to your doctor to obtain a prescription and ships the order right to your doorstep. Breast pump accessories are also available through their monthly Resupply program. Find out more at 1naturalway.com.
When you’re stuck in a rocking chair nursing and cuddling your newborn for hours upon hours each day and night for weeks on end, it’s easy to reach for the phone and get lost in the constant stream of information and entertainment, especially when your going through a deployment (I’ve totally been there).
Be intentional about turning off the screens for a block of time each day, and allow yourself to just be in the moment. Breathe in that sweet newborn smell, watch the funny faces your tiny one makes when sleeping, and marvel at the incredible little person you brought into the world. Even though it pains me to write these words for a handful of reasons, it’s true what they say: it goes by so fast. So. Fast.
Take care of yourself.
Being a new mom is hard enough without having to take on the daily challenges military life throws your way. In the early days of motherhood, it’s good and natural to get completely wrapped up in caring for your newborn, but it’s important to remember your physical, mental and emotional health is vital to your baby’s overall well-being. Take a page out of the Army’s playbook, and remember the Performance Triad: sleep (when you can), (light) activity and nutrition.
Practicing self-care doesn’t have to be complicated. It could be as easy as putting a basket of water bottles and healthy snacks (like fresh or dried fruit, nuts and granola bars) next to the rocking chair so you remember to stay nourished and hydrated throughout the day. Taking walks, listening to uplifting music and encouraging podcasts, and surrounding yourself with positive people (both in person or online) are also simple ways to boost your spirit each day.
Embrace your new instincts.
Even though there are countless parenting books and websites that promise to reveal the secrets of raising a healthy, happy child (while keeping your sanity in tact), “Mom instinct” is a truly incredible thing, and the power has now been bestowed upon you, my friend. Own it.
Trust yourself to make the choices that are right for your baby, even if it means doing things differently than family members and friends and ignoring some of the well-intended advice I’m sharing here (seriously). You’ve got this, Mom.
Even though it took me years to learn to sleep when my children sleep, I made it through my first few years of motherhood, and you will, too. We get by with a little help from our friends… and Thin Mints.
Let’s talk! I would love to hear…
Are you a new mama? What’s on your heart and mind?
Moms with older children, what are your best tips for making it through the early days of motherhood?