5 Heart Tips for New Mamas
Words by Christa Threlfall // Images by Barbara Powell
If I could go back to when I had my first baby, there are some things I would do differently. Of course time travel is impossible, but I can at least share a few things with you sweet new mamas who are reading. Here are a few heart tips as you become a new mom—whether this is your first or fifth baby:
1) Navigate the hormones
Listen sweet sister, your hormones are going to be out of whack and crazy for a little bit. This component, along with the fact that you're deficient in sleep, makes for some interesting times ahead. It's all going to even out eventually, but here's what you need to know until then: everything is not as permanently awful as it seems. Sometimes the very best way for you to work through a problem during this stage of life is to lie down and rest.
2) Love others
If I had a piece of chocolate for every hurtful thing people said to me when I was pregnant and postpartum, I'd be giving Ghirardelli a run for their money. People make thoughtless comments (you and I do, too). But do you know what my husband kept telling me throughout that time? "Don't give a comment more thought than the person who said it." Just because someone made a thoughtless comment doesn't mean you have to spend time thinking about it.
Consider Christ’s example. When people crucified him with their words and actions, what was his response? “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).
When I meditate on Christ’s response to criticism, I come to the realization that my typical response of fuming and becoming offended at hurtful comments is opposite of the loving response Jesus so clearly exemplified. Instead, I beg God to give me strength to respond as Christ did in complete forgiveness and love. And although I may have a difficult time “forgiving and forgetting,” every time the comment comes to mind it is a reminder to pray for the person who said it.
Oh, dear Mama, I know. I know. Your body is unlike anything you've ever known. The pain is real, and wait—wasn't the pain part supposed to end with delivery?! There are no clothes that fit you. You are experiencing limits in energy, sleep, motivation, and clear thought, and you have no earthly idea what to do about schedules, sleeping/not sleeping, feeding, etc. You've gotten so much advice, but it's all from different sources, so who knows what you're supposed to pick!
There's a whole lot going on in your life right now, not the least of which is a tiny human who needs her mama. And guess what? If you take the first weeks of this little's life and just sit on the couch and feed them instead of researching schedules and attempting a regimented weight loss program? It will all be okay if you grab hold of the next point:
4) Trust God's plan in making you a mother
If you can get this piece of advice and embed it deep within your soul, then the ability to relax is going to come a whole lot easier. You know all the advice you've been hearing? All the books and blog posts you've read? The way your friends, parents, aunts, and sisters did it? I've got a secret for you. You're the one who decides what to do. And before you become absolutely terrified by that thought, let your heart rest in this one that's infinitely better:
God gave this baby to you.
And he gave you to this baby.
Trust the one who gave you such a precious gift and grave responsibility. Trust that he has not just given you this little life, but will also give you the wisdom to raise them in a way that honors him. And when the times come that you are simply at your wit's end and do not know what to do, cry to the one who promises to give wisdom whenever we ask. He's brought you to this place. He won't leave you alone (Is. 41:13).
5) Fill your mind with truth
My habit is to have daily time in God's Word before my kiddos wake up in the morning. But after having a baby, I'm up so frequently throughout the night that I sleep in as long as possible for those first few weeks. Let me encourage you with this: although you may not even want to think during this stage of life, it is vital that you continue to fill your mind with the absolute truth of God's Word. It's vital for your sanity and sanctification. It's vital for your thought life and relationships.
After my son was born, I was up multiple times throughout each night. I had to stay awake with him anyway, so I would typically just scroll through Facebook until he was done eating. You can imagine how much that affected my thinking, can't you? I wasn't spending regular time in the Word, but I was spending regular time on Facebook. My thoughts were filled more with what other people were doing, thinking, bothered about, or excited about than with God's thoughts.
When I stopped scrolling through Facebook every time I nursed, my thinking underwent a dramatic transformation (Is. 55:8). I made a goal to use least one nursing session per day to work on Bible memory. I also listened to the Bible via my phone so I could just close my eyes and get a little rest, reading, and feeding in at the same time. Multitasking at its finest.
Stay rooted in God's Word as a new mama. Don't believe the lie that this stage is just too busy or pressured to spend time meditating in the Word. It certainly takes more effort to read the Word but it's the most important thing you can do, no matter what stage of motherhood you find yourself in.
Sweet mamas, I'm cheering for you. This is an absolutely precious, miraculous, and exhausting time of life, but God's got this. Plus, he's got you safe in his arms. And that's the best place you could ever be.