We’ve all heard the expression that being a new mother is a full-time job, but what exactly does this job entail? Dads and soon-to-be-moms have always wondered to themselves—what do new mothers do all day?
We take a thorough look into the secret lives of moms around the world as they try to deal with the many requirements of their new bundle of joy.
When we look at a newborn and their adorable round tummies, we wouldn’t be blamed for thinking that they must have hardly any space to consume food. Oh, how deceptive those little bellies can be!
Ask any new mother, and she will tell you that her primary job is that of nursing or feeding her infant. That, on its own, is a full-time job. On average, a newborn will have to eat every two to three hours or eight to 12 times every day!
The feeding schedule is not consistent and depends entirely on the mood and the body of the baby. This means that you have to be alert round the clock to the needs of your little one and be ready to feed at any point. With my first, I felt like he would eat all day every day, and I would spend most of my time sitting on the couch or in bed.
To make things a smidgen more complicated, babies tend to ramp up their consumption as time passes by, but at least it’s less often:
- At the two-week mark, they usually eat roughly 2–3 ounces every time they feed.
- At two months, they need 4-5 ounces every 3-4 hours.
- At four months, they need 4–6 ounces per feed.
- At six months, they can eat up to 8 ounces every 4 hours.
If a mom is breastfeeding, she needs to keep her energy levels in check and keep her nutrition levels up in order to match the baby’s growing appetite.
Once a baby stops breastfeeding and switches to eating whole foods, a new mother’s responsibilities ramp up as well. Now she has to cook for her infant and prepare special foods that will accelerate their growth, boost their immunity, and facilitate smooth bowel movements.
Her role now officially shifts from being the feeder to being the chef!
For some moms, this is perhaps the least fun part of their day. As we saw above, babies eat a deceptive amount of food at a surprising frequency. All of that has to go somewhere, right?
It goes straight into diapers that need changing with persistent frequency as well. Babies tend to poop roughly three to five times a day, some even as much as 12 times! Depending on the mess, cleaning all of this up can take up to 15 minutes per session.
Once you do the math, you can imagine that many hours a day are simply spent feeding the baby and changing their diapers. Nursing a newborn alone, on average, has been known to take 35 hours a week, or almost the same amount of time as a full-time job.
We all knew babies aren’t low maintenance, but only new mothers know just how much love and care goes into looking after them.
The whole world is one giant stimulating package for a newborn baby, and nearly everything seems entertaining to them. Despite this, it’s essential for mothers to spend quality time playing with their child, singing to them, massaging them, and even reading to them.
All of these activities help a mother bond with her baby and vice-versa. All the baby’s senses are activated with their mother’s touch and sound, and it helps them feel cared for and secure.
It’s also important to know that a baby’s physical, emotional, and psychological development begins to compound rapidly as soon as they’re born. It comes down to parents, especially mothers, to direct this development in the right direction and aid the baby in every department.
So it might seem like a new mother is spending a lot of time horsing around with their child, but in reality, they’re laying the foundations for their future.
Exposure to the Outside World
It was common belief earlier that parents have to wait six to eight weeks before taking newborns outside for a stroll, as their immune systems are not fully developed. This has now been proven false, and parents can take their kids out almost immediately after birth, provided they take the necessary precautions.
Due to this change, new mothers are tasked with taking children out for walks pretty early on post-pregnancy. It requires them to use a stroller or one of the latest carriers, such as a wrap or sling. Learning how to use a wrap or sling and perfecting these techniques can take a fair amount of time as well.
Then there’s the actual outdoor time itself. Taking a newborn out for a stroll once or twice a day takes a fair amount of clockage and draws an intense amount of energy from the mother. However, it’s good for both mom and baby to get some fresh air and sunlight outside of the home.
Apart from caring for a child, a lot of mothers have tons of housework to wrap up between the periods they aren’t caring for a child. This is the time when moms rely on naptime or toys to entertain their children as they quickly try to wrap up all the chores around the house.
During the first few weeks, however, it’s best for mom to recover post-birth and get some help with the housework.
Children sleep and wake up pretty much round-the-clock during their first couple of weeks out of the womb, and this can be quite challenging for new parents to deal with. The secret for new moms is to try and synchronize their naps with their baby.
There’s no way new parents can get a full night’s sleep unless one parent is willing to stay up throughout the night to care for the baby. Especially for a nursing mom, it’s hard to find time to sleep at night when you’re constantly on call.
The best way for new moms to try and get some much-needed z’s is by trying to get some shut-eye along with the baby, even if it’s in the middle of the day. There’s no certainty as to how much sleep can be accrued in a single nap, but any sleep is better than no sleep for a new mom.
Although it isn’t compulsory until newborns become toddlers, a fair amount of time is also dedicated to socializing with other babies. Infants learn the concept of parallel play when they spend time with babies of a similar age, often mimicking each other’s play styles before actually engaging with one another.
This is usually a semi-regular activity for new moms, but transporting their kids to and from the playdate or mom group, along with the playtime itself, can be fairly time-consuming.
Learning on and off the Job
One last and crucial element of a mother’s day involves learning about being a parent, and this is pretty much a round-the-clock experience. Mothers are instinctively gifted with a lot of knowledge regarding the best way to take care of a child, but there’s still tons to be learned every day.
Mothers spend a fair amount of time researching valuable information to provide the best possible life for their child. I was always looking for games to play, nap routines, nursery ideas, massage techniques…the list goes on.
There’s an incredible amount of information available online these days regarding the best methods and activities to care for a child. You may also ask your mom-friends or family members for advice and experiences.
This can be a little overwhelming at first, but it doesn’t stop mothers from trying to absorb all they can for the sake of their child. This involves researching the best toys for them, finding the most compelling activities, purchasing the best books, securing the ideal accessories, and a whole lot more!
As the baby grows, as the weeks turn into months, and the months into years, there’s more and more information that needs to be absorbed, dissected, and utilized for the betterment of the child.
A mother’s job is never really done, not even when the baby is a grown-up and goes off to college. Until that point arrives, she is bound by her maternal instincts to become an excellent caregiver, and the modern mom spends a significant amount of time perfecting these skills.
A Day in the Life
A new mother’s day is firmly centered around the light of their life. Almost all activities are planned and catered to the betterment of their newborn, and this is absolutely the right way to do things.
However, it can be a challenging and thankless job as well, as there’s very little variation in the routine, tons, and tons of repetition. All of this is part and parcel of being a mom, and it’s a role that most women take tremendous pride in executing to perfection.
Those first weeks at home with your new babe will eventually become a blur, but try to make the best of it through the ups and the downs.