Inside: I cover everything you need to know from pregnancy to baby’s first year and beyond. These tips and advice is what I wish I’d had as a first time mom!
I put down my bright red pregnancy book while I rubbed my belly.
The book was well worn from reading it so often over the previous eight months. I had studied every page and committed everything the author said to heart.
I was ready for birth.
Or so I thought…
Here’s What Happened
As it turns out, nothing in that book really prepared me for what happened during labor and delivery and the time I spent in the hospital after.
Not to mention the 6 weeks postpartum.
Talk about being blindsided!
“Why weren’t there more resources out there about birth? Why is no one talking about this??” I wondered to myself.
So I decided to do something about it.
I wrote my first post about first time mom labor tips and my readers loved it. So I wrote more posts about pregnancy, labor and delivery, and parenting advice and they became just as popular.
It became clear to me that one of my missions as a blogger was to help new moms navigate pregnancy, motherhood, and beyond so no other woman was caught as unprepared as I was.
So here we are!
I’ve listed all of my motherhood posts on this page to give you the best resource as a first time mom.
It’s something I wish I had 6 years ago!
PREGNANCY TIPS AND TRICKS
The Best Pregnancy Announcement Ideas
Getting pregnant for the first time (or second or third!) is such a fun experience!
Once the initial shock/excitement wears off, you’ll want to share your news with your loved ones. But what’s the best way to tell your husband or family and friends?
I’ve put together over 70 baby announcement ideas that you can personalize to share your big news!
Some of the cute prop and setting ideas you’ll find inside:
- Letter Boards/Chalkboards
- Rainbow announcements
- Ultrasound Pictures
When should you announce your pregnancy on social media?
As a rule of thumb, I always wait until we’ve passed the 12 week mark to share anything on social media. But honestly, it’s up to you.
Some moms want the extra support from their online friends if they experience a miscarriage and others don’t. Just remember to tell your most important loved ones in person so they don’t end up finding out on Facebook!
Gender Predictions During Pregnancy
Guessing baby’s gender is something fun to try as a first time mom (or, even a third time mom like me!).
We decided to wait until delivery to find out the gender of baby number three, so that got me thinking about all the fun gender predictions out there.
While gender prediction methods might not be scientifically backed, they are definitely entertaining. Have fun with family predicting baby’s gender or even include it as an activity in your baby shower!
Some of the fun methods:
- BABY’S HEART RATE: (Use this fetal heart doppler). According to the tales, a boy’s heart rate will be <140, and girls are anything >140 beats per minute.
- MAYAN CHART: The Mayan gender prediction chart maps out both the mother’s age and the month the baby is conceived. If both numbers are either even or odd, the baby will be a girl. If one number is even and the other is odd, the baby will be a boy. For example: If you’re 22 at the time of conception and conceive in June, your baby will be a girl because 22 and 6 are both even numbers.
- RING TEST: Take your wedding ring and suspend it from a strand of your hair, then hold it over your belly. (I’ve also seen it done held over the person’s hand). Steady the ring and bounce it seven times. If the ring swings side to side, it’s a boy. If it swings in a circle, it’s a girl. Watch a video of me doing the test here.
- CRAVINGS: If you’re craving salty things, you’re having a boy and if you can’t seem to stay away from the sweets, then your bundle of joy is most likely a girl.
Check out all 12 baby gender predictions to guess what you’re having.
How can I find out my baby’s gender?
The only conclusive way to find out your baby’s gender is through labor and delivery. Sometimes, even your ultrasound gets it wrong!
My results for baby number three were:
BOY = 6
GIRL = 5
INCONCLUSIVE = 1
When we finally found out, we are so overjoyed to bring a beautiful baby GIRL into our family!
The Cutest Gender Reveal Ideas
Along with pregnancy announcements, you should consider doing a gender reveal for your loved ones.
Have someone record your reaction, whether on video or through pictures. You’ll love seeing the joy and excitement on everyone’s faces as they find out your baby’s gender for the first time.
Here are a few:
- Colored Powder
- Flat Lay Scapes
- Color Coordinated Clothing
Check out all 35+ gender reveal ideas to help you share your exciting news with those you love!
What do you do at a gender reveal party?
If you have lots of friends and family you want involved in your gender reveal, or this is your first baby, you may want to throw a gender reveal party!
You can have your guests guess the gender when they arrive at the party and should also serve some yummy food to keep people occupied while they wait for everyone. The main event will be the actual gender reveal so don’t feel like you need to have lots of games or extra activities planned.
Modern Baby Names
Once you know your baby’s gender, it’s time to start thinking about names!
When I was a mom to be (the first time), one of the best parts of being pregnant was getting to choose my little guy’s name. But, choosing a name can be stressful!
If you’re having trouble deciding, look through a comprehensive baby name list, give your favorites to your partner, and let them help you choose the name.
If you need a place to start, check out this list of 500+ modern baby names that moms like you are using.
Here’s a sample from the hundreds of cute names inside this post:
What do you do if you and your partner can’t agree?
My husband and I follow a formula to make sure we both get to have equal input. I narrow down my top favorite names and then let him pick. Then, I get to choose the middle name.
That’s what we’ve done for all three kids, and so far it’s worked great!
Gender Neutral Names
Gender neutral names are a really popular trend right now, and it’s a trend that’s here to stay.
Not just because parents are waiting to find out the gender of their baby at birth, but because having a gender neutral name can provide more authority and clout in the workplace.
Whatever your reason for wanting neutral baby names, I pulled the names that repeated for both genders from my modern baby names list, plus more from the Social Security Administration.
What is the most common gender neutral name?
When doing my research, these are the most popular names I came across:
Pretty cute, right!
Modern Bible Names
When you think of bible names, you don’t usually think of modern baby names right??
Well, I went through the entire bible and found some really cute names that modern moms will love!
Here’s a little sneak peek:
Be sure to check out the full posts for all of the names plus their meanings.
And you can see even more ideas for baby names in this growing archive!
First Time Mom Baby Registry Essentials
As a first time mom, you’ll want to set up a baby registry.
I remember being pregnant with my first and wondering what we needed for the baby. I found lots of articles with a baby registry checklist a mile long!
It was a little overwhelming since my husband was still in school and I was quitting my full-time job. We didn’t have a lot of money so did I really need $35 swaddle blankets??
Since I’ve had three children now, I have a pretty good grasp of what you need with a new baby and what you don’t. You only need to register for the essentials!
Here are some of my favorite registry items:
My first time mom baby registry post has all of the essentials listed with a FREE printable to make registering easy.
When should you start a baby registry?
My best advice is to wait until you know what you’re having (unless you aren’t finding out!). This lets people personalize items for boy or girl if they choose!
But you can start your registry as early as you want and update it as often as you want.
Baby Shower Ideas
Baby showers are a rite of passage for a new mom! Once you’ve set your baby registry, you’ll want to start thinking about your baby shower as well.
I’ve seen so many cute and creative themes out there, so to help you with your planning, I put together a post with some of the best modern baby shower ideas.
Here’s a preview of the awesome theme ideas:
- Desert Themed from Cammeo Head to Toe
- Where the Wild Things Are from SS Heart
- Bagel Themed from The Okayest Moms
- Saturday Brunch from Hey, It’s Jenna
What happens at a baby shower?
Baby showers can vary so much from person to person, so I love seeing how different moms choose to celebrate their pregnancy and show their creativity!
Whatever you do, make sure it’s something that suits your personality and will keep your guests engaged.
- Decorating Onesies
- Word Scrambles
- Poetry and Pampering
- Book Signing
Pregnancy Workout Ideas
The last thing you may be thinking about when you’re pregnant is exercise; the thought of doing a burpee makes you want to throw up!
With everything else you have to do to prepare to be a new mom, it can be difficult to think of good pregnancy workout ideas.
But once you’re feeling better in the second trimester, getting a good pregnancy workout can boost your mood and energy! Not to mention, keep your body in shape for delivery. Try to make exercise a priority, even if it’s only for 15 minutes!
Here are links to a few of my favorite pregnancy workout ideas:
What exercises should be avoided during pregnancy?
You can really do almost any kind of exercise when pregnant. Some activities might need to be modified. Make sure you’re not doing anything where you’re likely to fall, need to lie on your back or might receive blows to the body. Be mindful not to overdo it and go easy on any jarring motions!
Some first time moms wonder which month to start exercise during pregnancy. It’s really up to your body and how you’re feeling. Exercise is safe throughout pregnancy as long as you’re taking the proper precautions and are cleared by your doctor.
Sleep? What sleep!?
Getting good sleep while pregnant can be a challenge. I definitely had trouble with my first two pregnancies, but with my third baby, I finally found a solution.
Make sure you’re using the best mattress for pregnancy! Finding a good mattress made all the difference for me this time around.
Here are some of the problems my new mattress solved:
- Getting up multiple times a night to go to the bathroom
- Back pains
- Cramped limbs
- SPD (Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction) pains
- Night sweats
How can I sleep better during pregnancy?
First, invest in a good mattress that will last. Also, consider wearing a pregnancy tracking bracelet at night to track your sleep (I highly recommend this if you’re a mom to be).
My bracelet shows that I consistently got 7.5+ hours of sleep with my magical mattress!
To help you navigate pregnancy, I’ve created lots of short posts that answer questions like:
- How early can I take a pregnancy test?
- What’s the normal weight for a pregnant woman?
- What are the 3 stages of pregnancy called?
Be sure to read all of the pregnancy FAQ posts here!
LABOR AND DELIVERY TIPS
First Time Mom Labor Tips
As I mentioned earlier, there’s a lot your doctor and those baby books don’t tell you about giving birth! Do some research about what REALLY happens during and after labor (all the not so pretty stuff).
You can start with these first time mom labor tips.
Here are a few of the surprises I encountered:
- The baby generally comes on the doctor’s schedule
- You may throw up
- The nurse will knead your uterus
- The first bowel movement is terrible
I give all my best advice in the post on how to handle all of these first time mom labor experiences and also provide great tips on what to do after delivery while you’re still in the hospital.
What does the start of labor feel like?
As you focus on your first time pregnancy delivery, you might also wonder what the start of labor feels like.
Unlike the movies, your water doesn’t always break before you need to go to the hospital, and sometimes your water breaks and you don’t notice (baby’s head can prevent it from gushing out)! You’ll likely start contracting before you get to that point.
We all experience pain differently, but many women describe early labor contractions as strong menstrual cramps. You might also experience a dull ache in your lower back and abdomen.
Labor contractions do not stop or ease by changing positions like Braxton Hicks, and they’ll keep coming at increasingly regular intervals. Once your contractions are coming about every 5 minutes and last for 60 seconds, it’s time to head to the hospital!
How Being Induced Works
My first baby was six days overdue and I was showing no signs of going into labor.
As it turns out, my baby was in distress and during a non-stress test, I was sent to labor and delivery to start my induction.
I wasn’t expecting to be induced with my first baby, but I loved my experience and have had elective inductions with the rest of my babies.
Different Types of Labor Induction
There are several different ways to induce labor and your doctor may try one, or all, of the following:
Medications (such as prostaglandin or Pitocin): Prostaglandin is applied to your cervix (either in a gel or suppository form) often during the evening causing the uterus to go into labor by morning. Pitocin is given through an IV (Intravenous Therapy).
Breaking Your Water (artificially rupturing the membranes): If your cervix is favorable, but your contractions haven’t started, your OBGYN will probably want to break your water to jump-start contractions.
Natural Ways To Induce Labor: If you’re getting antsy and want to try inducing labor on your own, here are a few things to try (Fair Warning: I’ve tried them all and have never had success, ha!):
- Sexual intercourse
- Nipple stimulation
- Certain foods (i.e. spicy foods, oily salads)
- Bumpy car rides
- Strenuous activity
Whether you have a scheduled induction or you’re being sent to labor and delivery directly from your doctor’s office, being induced can be a little scary. Here are a few things you’ll encounter:
- Call the morning of
- Physical exam
- Fetal monitors
- Cervix checks
There are lots of pros and cons to being induced, so be sure to read the full post for more information.
Postpartum Body Changes
Not only are there things your doctor won’t tell you about giving birth, but there are a few other things that happen during your postpartum recovery (AKA the weeks and months after having a baby) that no one tells you about either!
I share all of these surprises in my ultimate guide to postpartum body changes.
- You may not feel like yourself: Did you know that anger is an emotion commonly felt during Postpartum Depression? I sure didn’t! I share my experience with this and how to address it in the full post.
- You’ll still look pregnant: I totally thought my stomach would shrink back to normal size after I pushed that baby out of me. Oh no! It’s worse after you have the baby because instead of being huge, your belly is huge AND squishy. (Check the full post to see the one product I use after every pregnancy to help).
- Hair loss: Yes, your hair will probably fall out leaving those lovely, wispy baby hairs that are short and stick out.
Honestly, it depends on how your labor and delivery went and what baby number it is.
With my first, I was in a crazy amount of pain after giving birth; mostly because I had been in labor for 36 hours and I didn’t take my pain meds. But with my third, I had the “week of pain” that’s normal after birth and started feeling normal right after that.
With every delivery, there will be some amounts of pain. That’s just how childbirth works. Plan to be in some sort of pain in some part of your body (more on that in the post) for at LEAST the first week and often all the way until 6 weeks.
To help make the weeks postpartum more manageable, I’ve created several short posts that answer questions like:
- How do I tighten my stomach after having a baby?
- What does postpartum depression feel like?
- Does breastfeeding affect your emotions?
You can see all of those postpartum FAQ posts here!
Must-Have Newborn Items for the First Time Mom
Now that I’ve been through this rodeo three times, I’ve got a really firm grasp on what it takes to care for newborns.
I thought I had found the best swaddles ever when I got some that velcroed, but Mia kept busting out of those which made sleep time a challenge. These swaddles are a little more expensive, but SO worth the extra money!
Should I include these on my baby registry?
Any items that are essential for baby’s care can go on your registry, from the smallest product to big ticket items like your stroller or crib.
And if you’re worried about the cost for the swaddle or any of the items I recommend for your registry, don’t be. Friends and family may decide to team up for larger items.
It will save you the expense and your friends and family can feel good helping out!
Newborn Sleep Tips
One of the biggest struggles for a new mom, is trying to figure out newborn sleep!
Establishing a good sleep routine for your new baby is super important, not only for your baby, but also for you! Make setting a sleep schedule a priority as soon as possible!
To start, check out the best newborn sleep tips for new moms to help you get your baby to sleep on a schedule and sleep through the night, fast!
Why do newborns not sleep at night?
Here are some of the reasons your baby might not be falling asleep or staying asleep at night.
Baby could be hungry.
Baby’s tummy is troubling him.
Mom’s diet is affecting the nursing baby.
The previous waketime was too short.
Baby’s room is not dark enough.
Baby is over-stimulated in the crib because of wind-up toys.
Make sure to read the full post for the sleep training method I use that combats these common sleep problems!
Clever Newborn Baby Hacks
Once you’re healed and feeling more human again, you can focus on enjoying the newborn stage.
This is one of the most precious times since baby is so small and snuggly, but it’s also one of the most difficult if you’ve never had a baby before.
To help you out, try these clever newborn baby hacks!
- Taking advantage of blackout curtains
- Keeping binkies clean in your purse with portion cups
- Keeping diapers and wipes in every room you frequent
- Tying up poopy diapers in a scented bag before putting them in your diaper pail
- Bouncing on a yoga ball to help calm baby
- Putting water in a binky and freeze it for instant teething relief
After giving birth, your focus is going to be on the baby, but you should also make taking care of yourself a priority! I give lots of advice on self-care for a first time mom in this post as well.
How do you survive the first week with a newborn?
The first week with a newborn is tough. Even as a third-time mom, I still had to remember how to take care of a little one. No one is perfect! Just take it one day at a time.
One of the most important newborn tips I can give is to savor the moments! As much as caring for a newborn can be really challenging, it’s also incredibly rewarding. Babies grow up fast, so appreciate every stage.
Monthly Photo Inspiration
Once you have that sweet babe, taking monthly baby photos is one of my favorite parts of their first year!
I still have all of the photos I took of my kiddos even though they are way past the baby stage. Always make sure baby is in a good mood when you’re taking their picture.
Check out these monthly baby photo ideas; perfect for any first time mom!
A few of the cute themes:
- Using a chalkboard
- Using a faux fur rug
When should you take baby pictures?
I find that after they’ve eaten and are playful in the morning is the best time to capture those fun smiles!
Baby’s First Birthday Party
Your baby’s first birthday is another fun milestone to look forward to during their first year!
But think carefully about the time you want to have their first birthday party. If you plan it around mealtime, guests may expect a full meal. If you plan it late afternoon, you can get away with just offering snacks.
If you’re looking for more tips and first birthday party ideas, check out these first birthday party ideas!
Here’s a peek at the cute themes:
- Zoo Animal
- Peppa Pig
- Super Hero
What do you do for a 1st Birthday Party?
The sky is really the limit. You can plan activities around whatever your little one enjoys. Some great ideas that you’ll find in my post include:
- A cake smash
- Animal interactions
- Kiddie pool playtime
Whatever you choose, just make sure it’s safe and gets everyone involved in the fun!
New Mom Life Hacks
Even though I’ve been a mom for almost 6 years, I still love hearing tips and tricks from other moms. We have to stick together! Be open to advice from other moms who’ve been there.
Here’s a good one from yours truly: Not all mom hacks are created equal.
I’ve seen some terrible hacks as well as some amazing ones, so I compiled only the best mom life hacks in one single post.
Here are some:
- You can cut those tight elastics out of your little girl’s hair with a seam ripper. (*Make sure the seam ripper is only cutting the elastic and doesn’t catch any hair.)
- Use a cupcake liner to contain popsicle spills.
- Use frozen marshmallows instead of ice for a cold pack for those bumps and bruises. (The marshmallows aren’t as intense of a cold as the ice.)
- If you’re nursing a baby or have to get something done and you can’t physically read, look up the books on YouTube or Storyline Online. Sit the child next to you and have someone else read to them. They are close and still hearing the words from the book.
How can I make parenthood easier?
There’s no question that parenting is hard work. Why else would there be so many mom hack posts?!
But, the biggest thing to remember throughout every phase is that everything IS just a phase. If you’re going through a difficult time now, it will get better. Parenting has a steep learning curve and every kid is different.
By finding and sharing those little creative, and sometimes funny, mom hacks we can all get through it together!
Stay at Home Mom Jobs
After pregnancy, a lot of first time moms have to make the decision to go back to work or not.
Some moms really need the extra money, but daycare can be super expensive. If this is your circumstance, try to find an option that lets you work from home!
What are good paying stay at home jobs?
I made a list of real stay at home jobs that moms like you are doing right now like:
A great job for those who:
- Can type quickly
- Have long chunks of quiet during the day
- Speak a foreign language
This is a great job for those who:
- Are very organized
- Enjoy answering phone calls and emails
- Can take direction
- Like social media and have taken a few courses on how it works
TEACH ENGLISH TO FOREIGN CHILDREN
This is a great job for those who:
- Have a bachelor’s degree
- Enjoy teaching
- Don’t mind waking up early to teach or teaching in the evenings
Once you’ve decided you want to start working from home, I highly recommend you put your availability on social media.
Let your family and friends know you’re looking for real stay at home jobs and you may be surprised at the job opportunities that come your way! That’s how I got my customer service job!
What does a first time mom need?
More than anything, a first time mom needs amazing friends and family as well as fantastic resources.
To help you make the transition to motherhood as seamless as possible, I created several printables including baby sleep schedules, a 4 week meal plan, and a stain removal guide.
As a bonus for joining my weekly-ish newsletter, you’ll get access to all of those printables (plus a few more!) Click here to download and subscribe or you can use the nifty box below.