The three words all new moms need to hear

New moms need to know we can talk about more than how adorable our babies are or how amazing motherhood is. We need to know our conversations can go beyond scheduled feedings and nap routines.

new motherhood

"He's so cute!"and "Oh he's perfect!" were suddenly phrases that made me cringe. It was early spring (in pre-pandemic times) and my newborn baby was nestled against my new mom-bod. He was so cute and perfect, yes—but these phrases seemed to discount the radical change I had undergone in the first two weeks of motherhood.

It wasn't just about him. I was still there, too.

I know everyone intended their comments to be loving, kind and complimentary. They were congratulating me on the birth of my beautiful child, after all. However, the number of onesies I was being gifted in comparison to the number of chores I was getting help with felt off-balance—I mean, I was grateful for the cute clothes, but I so desperately needed help with the chores.

The amount of people who wanted to hold the baby was overwhelmingly more than the amount of people who actually asked about how I was feeling. I was hearing, "Isn't it the best?" much more than I was hearing, "How are you?"

I was okay. I wasn't okay. I was lost, untethered, not sure what my next step was going to be beyond nursing the baby again and then trying to nap beside him before we repeated the cycle. I was in love and full of purpose: to be a mother. I was unsure how this purpose coincided with the rest of my life.

I'd had the birth experience I wanted—unmedicated and at home—but that didn't mean I wasn't raw and ripped open. The smell of my baby was intoxicating. His coos were a type of heaven I'd never known. I understood the desire to be a stay-at-home mom for the first time in my life. I felt the call of homemaking. I also had no idea what this would mean for my partnership, my career hopes or even how to communicate these new light bulbs going off for me.

These were the things I wanted to talk about.

I think, largely, we don't know what to say to new mothers beyond exclamations of cute and wonderful. If we ask a mother, "How are you?" her answer might be uncomfortable. We might not be able to help her or know what to say next.

It is equally true that as new mothers we often don't know how to adequately respond if someone does ask us how we are doing. If we admit we are having a hard time what will that person think of us? If we say new motherhood is challenging, will that negate the love and desire we also feel?

It's complicated.

New moms need to know we can talk about more than how adorable our babies are or how amazing motherhood is. We need to know our conversations can go beyond scheduled feedings and nap routines.

New motherhood made me feel completely brand new. Something in me was awakened that I didn't even know existed before. It was this ancient and primal knowing—a knowing of how to mom.

Yet—I still doubted myself. Will I ever want to leave my baby? I wondered. What if I can never leave my baby? I was some sort of hybrid of the person I was before giving birth and this new version of myself, completely foreign to me.

The radical transformation of motherhood shook me to my core. My cells were literally changed. My goals realigned. My day-to-day living experience was drastically different. My body, a new shape. The way I moved in the world felt like navigating uncharted waters. I'd wanted to be a mom for as long as I could remember and still, becoming a mom was shocking.

In any other life transition of this scale, one would expect to feel a wide range of feelings. Excitement, loss, eagerness, anxiety, joy, fear, discomfort, relief. Things are rarely only "good." But in pregnancy, we're sold a bill of goods that says new motherhood—and new babies—will bring only joy. I was misled by this. My feelings of loss and sadness didn't make sense to me, and no one was asking about them. There was no place for me to reconcile my bliss with my grief.

Thankfully, I had a few close friends I could be honest with. They came bearing food and offering foot rubs, wanting to hear my birth story and also my anxiety over a trip to the grocery store. Friends who asked "How are you, really?" and then listened without judgment or shame. These types of humans are the medicine for a new mama's tattered heart.

I think we all benefit by knowing that birth brings a lot more than a cute baby. The beautiful bliss and bubbly joy are possible, and so is the pain of separation, identity shifts and all the other uncomfortable sensations of growth. Every gain comes with some loss; it's how we make room for our new gift.

Go ahead, mama—feel all your feelings around the birth of your child. Feel the multitude of emotions that come with new motherhood—and as I've learned, new motherhood even as it applies to your second or third child, too.

And friends/family members: Peel your eyes away from that adorable little one and ask new moms how they are feeling. Then, give her the space to share. It is one of the greatest baby gifts I've ever received.

As much as I love fall, it always feels like the season when my family's routine gets kicked into overdrive. With our oldest in (homeschool) kindergarten, my youngest on the brink of entering her twos, work, housework and *all the things* filling my day, it's hard not to feel a little overwhelmed sometimes. Did I mention we're still in a pandemic? (Yeah, it's a lot.) And while I try to take a positive view as much as I can, now more than ever I definitely jump at the chance to take anything off my busy plate.

One thing first in line at the chopping block? Cooking. To be fair, I like cooking. I cooked most of our meals long before I had ever even heard of social distancing. But there's something about the pandemic that suddenly made cooking every single meal feel exponentially more draining.

Enter Daily Harvest. They deliver nourishing, delicious food right to your door. Daily Harvest's mix of smoothies, bowls, flatbreads, snacks and more provide a balanced, whole food options that are as satisfying as they are nutritious. But my favorite part? When we're ready to eat, I simply pull the food from the freezer and it's ready in minutes—without any chopping, measuring or searching for a recipe. Even better, they're incredibly tasty, meaning I'm not struggling to get my girls to dig in. Not cooking has never felt so good.

Here are my 8 favorite products that are helping to lighten my load right now:

Mulberry + Dragonfruit Oat Bowl

Mulberry + Dragonfruit Oat Bowl

One thing that actually helps break up the monotony of quarantine? Trying and introducing new ingredients to my family. I love this overnight oat bowl (add milk the night before and let it set in your fridge overnight—easy-peasy!) because not only does it not compromise on nutrition, but it also helps me bring new whole fruits, vegetables and superfoods to the table with ease.

Mint + Cacao Smoothie

Mint + Cacao Smoothie

I kid you not, these taste exactly like a mint chocolate chip milkshake. (Just ask my 4-year-old, who is constantly stealing sips from my glass.) What she doesn't know? She's actually getting organic banana, spinach and chlorella with every sip. #momwin

Kabocha + Sage Flatbread

Kabocha + Sage Flatbread

Our family's eating habits have been leaning more plant-forward this year, which often means a lot of veggie washing, peeling and chopping every time I cook. That's why these flatbreads are my new best friend come lunchtime. This Kabocha + Sage Flatbread is made with a gluten-free cauliflower crust topped with kabocha squash, fennel and sage for a taste of fall in every bite. (Missing the cheese? You can add it before baking for more of a pizza feel.)

Kale + Sweet Potato Flatbread

Kale + Sweet Potato Flatbread

There's something about the combination of sweet potato crust topped with red cabbage, organic greens and an herby-cilantro sauce that is so delicious… like surprisingly delicious. I polished off this bad boy in seconds! And unlike other "veggie" crusts I've tried, these are actually clean (AKA no fillers, preservations, partially-hydrogenated oil or artificial anything). Plus, it couldn't be easier to throw in the oven between conference calls and homeschool lessons.

Cacao + Avocado Smoothie

Cacao + Avocado Smoothie

Any time I get to serve a breakfast that tastes like chocolate, it's a good day. (That goes double when it's *my* breakfast.) This rich, chocolatey smoothie is packed with organic zucchini, avocado, pumpkin seeds and pea protein for a nourishing mix of healthy fats and muscle-building protein so I can carry that baby all day long. And did I mention the chocolate?

Vanilla Bean + Apple Chia Bowl

Vanilla Bean + Apple Chia Bowl

Maybe it's just me, but after a long week of cooking, the last thing I want to do on Saturday morning is...wake up and cook. That's why these one-step breakfasts are saving my weekend. I simply add our favorite milk the night before and store the bowl in the fridge overnight. Come morning, I have a nutritious chia bowl that powers me through even the busiest day of errands. It's also Instagram-ready, which makes me feel like I'm out brunching (even if I can't remember the last time I was in a restaurant).

Cacao Nib + Vanilla Bites

Cacao Nib + Vanilla Bites

My kids have turned into snack monsters during quarantine, and I'm often struggling to find a wholesome option (that doesn't require a lot of extra cooking or else I resort to something ultra-refined and shelf-stable). These bites are the hero I never knew I needed. For one, they taste like cookie dough, but they're actually packed with chickpeas, pumpkin, dates and flax seed (among other whole ingredients). But unlike actual cookie dough, I don't have to go anywhere near my mixer to whip them up—all I have to do is pull the container out of the freezer, let them defrost a bit and we can all enjoy a treat.

Cauliflower Rice + Pesto Harvest Bowl

Cauliflower Rice + Pesto Harvest Bowl

Sometimes I have a little more time to cook, but I still want a quick, stress-free solution. (Especially because it always feels like I just cleaned up from the last meal.) I love these Harvest Bowls because they warm up in under five minutes on the stove top (or microwave!) but pack tons of flavor. The Cauliflower Rice + Pesto bowl is one of my favorites, with basil, olive oil and nutritional yeast for a hearty dish reminiscent of a mouth-watering Italian meal. When I'm feeling extra fancy, I add leftover grilled chicken or a fried egg.

Strawberry + Rich, Rippled Berry Compote Scoops

Strawberry + Rich, Rippled Berry Compote Scoops

Who doesn't want to end the day with a little something sweet? This creamy and decadent frozen treat from Daily Harvest is swirled with sweet berries and tropical dragonfruit for an antioxidant burst you'll feel good about—but that your kiddos will just think is ice cream. Go ahead, take credit for being the best mom ever.

Want to try it yourself? You can get $25 off your first box of Daily Harvest with code MOTHERLY.

This article was sponsored by Daily Harvest. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas

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There is rightfully a lot of emphasis on preparing for the arrival of a new baby. The clothes! The nursery furniture! The gear! But, the thing about a baby registry is, well, your kids will keep on growing. Before you know it, they'll have new needs—and you'll probably have to foot the bill for the products yourself.

Thankfully, you don't have to break the bank when shopping for toddler products. Here are our favorite high-quality, budget-friendly finds to help with everything from meal time to bath time for the toddler set.

Comforts Fruit Crisps Variety Pack

Comforts fruit snacks

If there is one thing to know about toddlers, it is this: They love snacks. Keeping a variety on hand is easy when the pack already comes that way! Plus, we sure do appreciate that freeze-dried fruit is a healthier alternative to fruit snacks.

Comforts Electrolyte Drink

Comforts electrolyte drink

Between running (or toddling!) around all day and potentially developing a pickier palate, many toddlers can use a bit of extra help with replenishing their electrolytes—especially after they've experienced a tummy bug. We suggest keeping an electrolyte drink on hand.

Comforts Training Pants

Comforts training pants

When the time comes to start potty training, it sure helps to have some training pants on hand. If they didn't make it to the potty in time, these can help them learn their body's cues.

Comforts Nite Pants

comforts nite pants

Even when your toddler gets the hang of using the toilet during the day, nighttime training typically takes several months longer than day-time training. In the meantime, nite pants will still help them feel like the growing, big kid they are.

Comforts Baby Lotion

comforts baby lotion

Running, jumping, playing in sand, splashing in water—the daily life of a toddler can definitely irritate their skin! Help put a protective barrier between their delicate skin and the things they come into contact with every day with nourishing lotion.

Another great tip? Shopping the Comforts line on to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices—and follow along on social media to see product releases and news at @comfortsforbaby.

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

Our Partners

A few years ago, while my wife's baby bump got bigger and my daddy reading list grew longer, I felt cautiously optimistic that this parenthood thing would, somehow, suddenly click one day. The baby would come, instincts would kick in, and the transition from established couple to a new family would be tiring but not baffling.

Boy was I wrong.

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