Editor’s note: Every Friday, HLN brings you the "My First Time" series. It explores the first time your favorite celebrities did something significant or memorable (so get your mind out of the gutter!).
In this installment, maternity guru Rosie Pope -- host of Bravo TV’s “Pregnant in Heels,” author of the upcoming book, “Mommy IQ,” and a maternity clothing designer -- gives advice to first-time moms.
HLN: What’s your best advice for first-time moms?
RP: I tell everybody to give themselves two weeks where they don’t do a single thing except be with their baby. If you don’t shower or put on real clothes for two weeks, it’s okay. Those first two weeks will be very difficult -- you need it, your baby needs it -- so don’t stress and just get to know your baby. And my clients find that after those 14 days, the clouds lift and it’s like “Ahh! I can go outside with my baby and I can wash my hair!”
HLN: What are new moms absolutely not prepared for after delivering the baby?
RP: You need to feed your newborn eight to 12 times a day! At first, babies consume about 16 to 24 ounces a day. After a couple of weeks, they need about 24 to 32 ounces a day. So how do you know your baby is getting enough milk? Weigh your baby before and after feedings! This is especially helpful when breastfeeding (if you’re using the bottle, it’s easy to calculate).
HLN: Let’s talk about breastfeeding: What do you recommend it to your clients?
RP: It’s such an independent decision! Know that people will judge you for everything, so you have to decide what’s right for you and your family. No one can tell you what that to do, including whether to breastfeed. If you want to breastfeed exclusively, know that you’ll have to do it all. If you want to share with your partner, you can pump and have your partner do some of the feedings so you can get some sleep. Or you could also use formula.
HLN: What’s the biggest misconception about breastfeeding?
RP: Most people think it’s all or nothing with breastfeeding. But here’s the thing: You can mix formula with breast milk! Maybe you can only breastfeed at night or in the morning because you have to work, or you may not produce enough milk -- you can use formula to supplement. At first, babies drink about two ounces at each feeding, so you can do an ounce of breast milk and an ounce of formula. You can also do this later on, when weaning your baby off breast milk.
Also, breast milk doesn’t actually come in for three to five days after you give birth. When you’re feeding your baby at the hospital, they’re consuming colostrum, which has all the nutrients they need. But when you get home, the milk comes in and if your baby doesn’t have a good latch, it can be very painful. So ask for help: Have a lactation specialist visit you in the hospital the day after you give birth and make sure the baby is latching on correctly. There’s no point in putting yourself through the pain and anxiety of it.
HLN: What do you think is the biggest misconception about motherhood for first-time moms?
RP: You can’t sleep-train your baby. Everyone wants their baby to sleep through the night, but it really comes down to food. Babies can’t go 12 hours without food until they’re about four months old and weight 14 pounds. Until then, they need food throughout the night.
Also, nap when your baby naps. Newborn babies sleep about 18 hours a day -- maybe not all at the same time, but they’re never awake for more than two hours. So when you think, “I can’t make it. I’m about to pass out,” I say anyone can make it through two hours!
After that, the baby will fall asleep and so can you. When moms say, “But I need to do laundry and clean the house” -- no, no, no! If your baby is sleeping, you’re sleeping.
HLN: How do you stop the baby from crying?
RP: Your reaction to their crying is very important. First-time parents tend to be very anxious, and the baby knows that. That’s where education comes in: If you feel confident you can solve why they’re crying, you can stop them. If you know how to change the baby, how much sleep or food they need -- instead of worrying and questioning whether the baby is tired or hungry or needs burping -- that eliminates a lot of the crying.
That’s another thing -- you must burp your baby every time they eat, otherwise, they get gas and it’s incredibly painful for them. When you see newborns kick their legs, that’s them trying to get the gas out. Also, don’t let the baby “cry it out” -- it doesn’t work for newborns. I’m a fan of letting them cry it out later on, but at first, pick that baby up! You must swaddle and hold your baby.
HLN: All your tips seem pretty common sense -- why are those first two weeks so difficult?
RP: You get crazy when you become a parent. You can be the most rational, educated person, but when you’re trying to figure out if your baby is getting enough food or sleep, all rationale goes out the window!