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Mom's Postpartum Advice: True or False?

Pregnancy & Postpartum

By Jenna Birch

It seems everyone has something to say to new moms about postpartum life. Opinions and "wisdom" abound from friends and family, but the person you turn to most often? Mom. Sometimes, she knows just what to say—and her words of wisdom turn out to be spot-on. But other times, you might raise an eyebrow at some of her advice.

Here are a few things moms always told us. We asked an expert if mom was right.

When you're breastfeeding, the weight falls right off.
False. Some moms are hungrier than others while breastfeeding, and metabolisms vary from woman to woman. While one new mom might find it easy to lose weight, another may feel like the scale needle is stuck in place. "Breastfeeding does require additional calorie support, too, so weight loss can happen ... but in the majority of patients, it will not make the weight 'fall off,' " says Dr. Melissa Goist, clinical assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

When your baby is born, you'll know what to do. Follow your maternal instincts.
False. While it's true that you'll probably bond with your baby right away, don't be alarmed if you're not reading your baby's every unspoken need like a book. "Do not confuse maternal instincts for the knowledge of caring for a child," says Dr. Goist. "Maternal instincts typically refer to the mother's inexplicable love for the new baby, but this is not changing a diaper, bathing or breastfeeding a baby. It is best for a mother to be prepared with the knowledge of how to care for a child before the baby is born, so then you can enjoy those normal maternal instincts."

You should sleep when the baby sleeps.
True. It's tempting to try to finish every chore while your newborn naps, but don't exhaust yourself. "We recommend, for maternal health, to try to nap when the baby naps," says Dr. Goist. "Sleep plays a very important role in maternal well-being. So, if your newborn is not sleeping well at night, then likely neither is mom." If you're not tired, then by all means, you don't need to nap, but while the baby is down, rest is priority number one.

What you eat, your baby eats. When you're breastfeeding, you still have to eat for two.
True. It's essential that you eat a healthy diet while breastfeeding, because you're passing on those nutrients to baby. "Food, vitamins, medications and alcohol can all be found in small quantities in a mother's breast milk," Dr. Goist says. "In order to support a healthy breastfeeding environment, a mother needs to eat about 600 extra calories a day." She says this is not exactly eating for two, but it's more additional calories than when you're pregnant, so it's close. Don't skimp.

Accept that your post-baby body will never be the same.
True. Yep, it's true. You won't get your exact same body back. Hormones shift. You gain weight one place and lose it in others. But in terms of how you look, don't fret. "While your body will never be the same, it might get better," says Dr. Goist. There's nothing preventing you from getting in shape and having a great, post-baby body.

Being a new mom is a happy time. If you're crying a lot, something is wrong.
False. It's a super-happy time, sure, but it's also busy, exhausting and new. Crying a lot doesn't necessarily mean something is wrong, or that you have postpartum depression—a common misconception. "Emotions are very confusing. Hormones are changing, and sleep is often limited, so crying is understandable," Dr. Goist says. "Something is wrong if you don't want to take care of your child, don't want to feed the baby or take care of yourself." That's when you need to see your health care provider.

Let your baby cry. If you pick her up every time she cries, she'll get spoiled.
False. Let's eliminate the idea of a spoiled newborn. She's acclimating to a totally new world, after all, and has needs. "Babies cannot be spoiled in the first few months," says Dr. Goist. "With that said, a crying baby does not always need to be picked up." Dr. Goist says there are a lot of theories about how to best care for a crying baby, with no one firm solution. As a general rule, babies under six months should be attended to—their cries are signaling their need (not just want) to be fed, changed or held.

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