Having your first child is one of life's greatest joys, but it's also one of life's greatest challenges. Rabbi Shmuley shares advice for new moms to ease the transition into motherhood and help them become the best parents they can be.
- Get help. Make sure your husband helps a lot, and be prepared to teach him what do to. Also, recruit the help of your mother, mother-in-law and friends. "Don't be ashamed," Rabbi Shmuley says. "They want to enjoy the kids, [and there's] nothing wrong with getting them to do some work."
- Get plenty of rest. Make up for lost sleep during the day while someone else watches the baby. "If you're tired, you're irritable and you won't enjoy the experience," he says.
- Breastfeed if possible. "Breastfeeding is the very best thing for the baby, so do it if you can," Rabbi Shmuley says. However, if you are having great difficulty breastfeeding, don't be afraid to supplement with formula, he says.
- Don't be critical of yourself when you're not perfect. Also, don't feel bad if you don't always love the baby, Rabbi Shmuley says. "Sometimes you're going to feel distant—not a big deal," he says. "You're not a bad mom; you're just human."
- Be prepared for mood swings. You are going through a major life change—not to mention hormonal changes—so don't be surprised if you don't always feel like yourself or if you experience a bit of the "baby blues."
- Have some "me" time. Make time to exercise and get out of the house every day, even if it's only for a short while.
- Don't let your marriage atrophy. "Don't make the baby so central that there is no room for your husband, your relationship or yourself," Rabbi Shmuley says.
"Becoming a parent is one of life's greatest joys. But it doesn't mean that the rest of you—your relationships, your own sense of self—has ceased to be. Give your child tons of time, but don't allow everything else to atrophy. The more of 'you' that there is, the more there is of you to give to your child."