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Mat Leave Survival Guide For First Time Moms

By mom Elizabeth Tadman-Kickham

I didn’t always dream about becoming a mom. Don’t get me wrong, I was excited to welcome my baby to the world, but I was also terrified to spend a year at home, alone with her. I knew I would learn how to take care of her, hold her properly, change her diapers, feed her around the clock, but I didn’t know how well I would adapt to my new life at home.

Petrified of being lonely and going stir crazy, I stepped out of my comfort zone while on maternity leave and completely surprised myself. I’d be lying if I said every minute at home has been blissful but here are a few things I learned that have made the year an overall success.

Accept and ask for help.

Now is not the time to be shy! Having a baby is a humbling experience. If you need a break, groceries, some time with another adult: speak up. Your friends and family are happy to help, they just need to know how. When people text you, “Let me know if you need anything!” go ahead and take them up on it.

Spread out your visitors and get a meal train.

My group of friends has the best tradition: when one of us has a new baby, everyone signs up to drop off dinner and have a visit. We asked for our visits to begin the week my husband went back to work and it was a lifesaver. It can be challenging to even shove a granola bar in your face as a brand new mom, let alone cook an actual meal.

Join a new mom’s group.

The best thing I did on maternity leave was join the new mom’s group offered through Alberta Health Services. No one understands what it’s like to be a new mom more than someone else right there in the trenches with you dealing with diaper blowouts and cracked nipples. Having this group gave me a reason to get out of the house once a week (which was especially hard in the winter) and I ended up making some fabulous new friends. 

Do something every day that makes you feel normal.

When we first got home from the hospital, my baby had her days and nights confused, she was a sleepy and snuggly during the day and an angry pterodactyl at night. This new schedule was really disorienting and the one thing that helped me feel normal again was sneaking in a quick shower and changing out of my pajamas every morning. Even with wet hair and Lulus on, I felt more like myself and ready to conquer our day.

Be honest about how you are doing.

People will say things to you like, “Enjoy every minute!” and “Soak it all in, they grow so fast!” but the truth is, sometimes being a new mom sucks and you don’t need to feel guilty about that. Don’t be ashamed if you are having a hard time, be honest and reach out to your partner, friends, family or physician.

If you think you might be experiencing symptoms of post-partum depression or anxiety, call 811 or speak with your healthcare provider. 

Becoming a mom is one of life’s greatest joys but it also one of life’s greatest challenges. Go easy on yourself and remember:

You got this mama!

Elizabeth Tadman-Kickham is an occasional blogger, first time mom, puppy fanatic, and communications professional. Writing about life, motherhood, and random thoughts from her brain, you can find her at or on Twitter @creative_betty