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Yes, You Do Have Maternal Instincts


I am one of those moms that had to learn how to have a maternal instinct. I have three kids: a 5-year old, a 2.5-year old, and a 3-month old. Love came naturally to me. With each baby, I had an overwhelming sense of gratitude and love for them. But, particularly with my first, once they were home some things just did not come naturally. And now with my third where things HAVE come naturally, it makes me wish I could talk to my first-time mom self and reassure her about a lot of things.

With my first baby, I had a very difficult time nursing him. Before he was born, and especially after with all the nurses at the hospital, I kept being reminded just how important breast milk is. But, my son wouldn’t latch. He just wouldn’t. So, the lactation nurse who helped me recommended I get a pump. My husband went and bought a pump that day. And for 3 months on, I pumped. Every 2 hours. I was exhausted. But, the nurse who I thought was an expert, didn’t provide any further info about how to keep trying to get him to latch. It wasn’t until my sister gave me a nipple-shield to try and use that it actually worked. My baby latched! I was so thrilled. From that day forward, we worked on latching even more without the nipple shield. I ended up nursing him for 12 months.

So- when nurses tell you one thing, but you don’t whole-heartedly agree with what they suggest, try something else.

With that said, when we took our 5-day old baby into his Pediatrician for a check-up, he was crying the entire way there. When we got there, his doctor looked at me and said- how is the feeding going? I said, “Okay. He doesn’t latch, but I have been pumping and giving him what I have.” (My milk hadn’t yet come in at that point.) As the baby continued to cry, he looked at me and said, “Well, where’s your breast-milk to give to him now? He is hungry.” As I realized what he was saying, I said, “I don’t have anything.” He looked at me with big eyes and said, “Can I give him formula?” Without hesitation, as I knew my baby was hungry, I said, “Yes.” My baby boy drank that bottle so fast. And, at the same time, my guilt overwhelmed me so fast. I can’t believe I didn’t realize my baby was hungry!

So- when nurses tell you that formula is not the best for your baby, even though your milk hasn’t come in, feed your baby if he is hungry.

This same baby refused to take a binky. But, every other mom I knew who had a baby DID take a binky. These thoughts consumed me:

+ How will I get him to calm down without one?

+ If I am in a public place, and he starts fussing, what will I do?

+ How will my baby sleep through the night without a binky?

Guess what- there are MANY babies who do not take a binky and have happy parents too! I found another way to soothe him: white noise. He loved the hum of the car, so I found a white noise app that he loved equally. It was another way to help calm him down when nothing else would.

So- if your baby doesn’t do what every other baby does, it is okay.

With my first baby, I read “Baby Wise.” That book focuses on keeping a strict routine and schedule to get baby to sleep through the night early on. It suggests you wait every 3 hours for the baby to eat. After a few weeks, I gave this idea a go. When he’d wake up, I’d either try and put him back to sleep, stall him, and wait for it to be “time” to feed him. This idea only lasted 24 hours. I was stressed trying to keep him on a schedule. He was extra fussy. It didn’t work for either of us.

So- allow yourself to take care of your baby the way you know how. Not the way a book tells you. If you feel like it’s time to feed the baby, feed them!

I was terrified of giving my baby a bath because I wasn’t confident that I could do a good job. But, with help from my husband and a good tub, we did it. And each time we gave our baby a bath it got easier and my confidence grew. Bath time came to be a favorite for all of us!

So- give yourself time to learn how to do something for the baby. With time, you’ll become more confident too.

For me, there was such a fear that I was going to do something wrong with this little person, I questioned everything I did. But, as soon as I was able to let go of those fears through experience, things got easier. I was able to remove that fear and let joy come in. I finally found joy in nursing the baby. I finally found joy in rocking the baby to sleep. I finally found joy in bathing that sweet, tiny baby boy.

If you’re a first-time mom, some of these things may come easily to you. But, if they don’t, keep trying your best. You and your baby will figure things out together.

Have there been things that were hard for you to learn as a first-time mom?




Author Info

Lacey Pappas

Mother of 2 silly boys and a new baby girl. Happily married. Love to laugh, inspire others, take pretty photos, and curl up with a good book.

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4 thoughts on “Yes, You Do Have Maternal Instincts



My daughter took formula a few times when she was a newborn, but after that, she refused it. No matter the brand, she just wouldn’t take it. I had to pump often to have milk for her to drink while I was at work or away from the house and I had to learn how to build up a supply to keep in the freezer. I don’t think I was prepared for this, even though it may seem so basic. I learned quickly and had to adapt, but it worked out.

Lacey Pappas

Good job, Jane! Yes- this is what I am talking about. Learning how to adapt with something you didn’t expect!

Lacey Pappas

True! Genders make you second-guess what you already may know! Good luck- you’ll be great with a boy!

Angela Silva

I feel like things came easy for me with my girl, but I’m terrified for a boy. I hear changing baby boy diapers are completely different (I haven’t changed a baby boy diaper for over 10 years, admittedly). I feel like a newby thinking about taking care of a boy!