10 Fears Every New Mom Has & How to Make Them Less Scary

Michele Zipp | Sep 27, 2017 Baby
Image: iStock.com/Mikolette

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iStock.com/Mikolette


Mom fears -- we all have them to some degree. But there is nothing quite like the power of the fears of a new mom. Even simple baby care tasks can seem scary and intimidating. It can be crippling. When I talked to other moms about their biggest fears when it came to baby care, I was thankful I wasn't alone in my greatest concerns. The most common worries are warranted, but thankfully we also have solutions to take the edge off. 

Did you know some moms carefully bite their own baby's fingernails because they're too freaked out by the nail clippers? And that anticipating baby's first bath -- a typical rite of passage -- can fill some moms with dread? For others, the first time taking a newborn out into public is stressful instead of exciting. Protecting our tiny, vulnerable children is part of being a mom, of course, and because we love them so much, we sometimes can't help but worry every step of the way.

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These are some of the greatest fears moms have when it comes to newborn baby care. And some helpful advice for making these seemingly scary firsts feel safer. With some clever hacks and tips, doing them will be like second nature.

And it'll become very clear that any moms out there are most definitely not alone if they've got fears of their own.

  • Clipping baby's nails.

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    When talking to moms about cutting baby's nails, I usually get the same reaction -- there was fear involved. "I couldn't handle putting anything sharp near my daughter's finger, so my husband ended up biting her nails off instead," Jennifer D. of Brooklyn, New York, said. Jamie S. of Dothan, Alabama, said, "I just peeled them off." Those options aren't for everyone, though. 

    "I was so worried about cutting my baby's nails. I had my husband do it when I was breastfeeding," Kara Y. of Towson, Maryland, said. This could work great when bottle-feeding or anytime baby is in a relaxed state. You can also try slowly cutting nails when baby is asleep ... if you don't mind risking a wake-up.

  • Giving baby a bath.

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    Once you get the hang of baby baths, they can be a really fun and soothing time, but there's something about that first bath that makes new parents worry. Babies are slippery when wet and the bathtub and sink are hard surfaces. (Risk alert!)

    This is why many choose to go the way of the sponge or wash cloth in a very shallow water–filled baby tub. "I cannot recommend the sponge-mat more for baby's bath," Jennifer Z. of Amsterdam, Netherlands, said. "Before I had that, I was terrified of bathing my kid. A friend told me about it and now I like to tell everyone." This little mat -- or even a towel -- can go under your baby in a tub or large sink. It's the perfect solution to be able to wash baby without worrying about him or her slipping out of Mom's hands. 

  • Caring for the umbilical cord.

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    Some parents think of caring for the umbilical cord as no big deal; others ... not so much. "I was so worried it was going to fall off before it was time ... and that I wasn't keeping it clean. It's such a weird thing!" Becca S. of Brooklyn, New York, shared.

    If this sounds like you, you are not alone. In this case, you need to do nothing. Nature will take its course and the stump will fall off about two weeks after birth. In the meantime, keep diapers from rubbing on it -- most moms suggest folding down the top of the diaper. "I ended up carefully folding down the front of the diaper before securing it," Becca said. "And, I made sure to keep the area clean and dry, without obsessing too much."

  • Changing baby's diaper.

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    "I've never changed a boy's diaper before I had my son. I didn't know how to properly clean down there at all," said Jennie E. of Suffern, New York. So many of us can relate! As for girls, quite a few moms noted they had to stress to their partners when cleaning their daughter that it's always "front to back"!

    Newborn babies are so tiny and so fragile that even changing a diaper gets some of us rattled. The common fear is how to lift baby to slide the diaper underneath. Kim D. of Portland, Oregon, said, "My baby was a preemie and I was really worried about lifting his tiny legs up to slide the diaper underneath."

    Babies certainly are fragile in a way (we all are), but a gentle lift holding baby's calves won't hurt the little one. 

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  • Putting baby to sleep.

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    Because baby has lived inside Mom's womb for around nine months, sleeping without baby near is a concern many mamas have. The greatest concerns the moms we spoke to have include What if she cries and I don't hear her? What if he rolls over? What if he feels I left him all alone? What if she needs me and I'm in the other room?

    "I was so worried about my baby rolling over and suffocating. I think I read way too many articles that scared me," Jackie M. of Orange, Virginia, said. "Everything involving sleep and my baby freaked me out."

    The best answer is to trust your mom instincts. "I pop in my baby's room when she naps more than I should -- she's always just fine but it helps calm me to check," Kristin A. of Port Washington, New York, said. And be sure to follow safe sleep guidelines.

  • Taking baby outside for the first time.

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    The elements! The smog! Pollution! Noise! Germy strangers wanting to peer into the stroller and touch your baby! There are so many things to contend with when taking baby out into the world for the first time. All these fears are completely understood and shared by many. Jennifer D. of Brooklyn, New York, said, "Because I live in the city, I wasn't only worried about pollution and loud cars and trucks, but about crossing the street. With a baby, suddenly everything felt harder and scarier to do." We agree, it's all a bit harder and scarier, but still worth it all.

    Moms can cover the stroller with a light gauze or muslin blanket that still allows for air flow but creates a little barrier for pollution. It'll keep the strangers from peering in, too. Moms may also want to wear their baby, which can be comforting and also deter others from getting too close.

  • Letting someone else hold your baby.

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    There is that moment when someone else wants to hold a mom's baby -- a family member, a most dear loved one even -- but something strikes Mom's core and she thinks NO! No one can hold my baby but me! The fear is real. Most moms we spoke to worried about something when it came to someone else holding their little one -- the responses ranged from someone not holding baby properly or supporting his or her neck to concern that the person wore too much perfume, used synthetic detergents, or was a smoker. "My mom smoked," Theresa W. of Astoria, New York, said. "That made me worry the third-hand smoke would hurt my baby."

    These are valid concerns. Theresa's solution was to wrap baby in a blanket or swaddle prior to letting her mom hold her. Julie O. of Rosendale, New York, said, "It calms my nerves to sit next to the person holding my baby. This way I'm right there if something goes wrong. Excessive? Maybe. But it helps me."

  • Driving in a car with baby.

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    "I'll never forget how terrified I was driving home from the hospital with my baby in the car for the first time," Marla M. of Hoboken, New Jersey, said. "Every bump felt like a crater and all the cars seemed to be driving recklessly (even though they weren't). My husband was also fearful of driving over 40 mph."

    Every mom we spoke to felt the same way the first time baby was in the car ... and many times after. One way for moms to calm their fears is to get a car seat check by a certified expert, making sure their little ones are properly secured so they are the safest they can be. 

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  • Feeding baby.

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    It doesn't matter if a mom is breastfeeding, bottle-feeding, or both -- feeding baby in any way can cause anxiety. Moms worry if baby is eating enough, too much, or if they will choke. "I was really worried about how much was coming out of the bottle even though I had the slow flow nipple," Kristin A. of Port Washington, New York, told us. "I think I checked it a ridiculous amount of times," she added. Checking it certainly isn't a bad idea, and you can pay attention to your baby swallowing to make sure she's doing it at the right pace. 

  • Leaving baby with anyone else.

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    New parents need and deserve a little time to themselves (or to go to work), but that means someone else has to watch baby. Not an easy thing to figure out. Whether a mom is hiring a sitter, choosing a day care, or even dropping off baby with in-laws, leaving baby with anyone else can be daunting.

    Jennifer S. of New York, New York, just can't leave her little one with anyone but close friends or family. "I'm just too worried about a stranger, no matter how many references we check," she said. Many moms have left a detailed list with information and that has helped them to feel better about leaving; others call to check in often to calm any fears.

    "I'm eight years into motherhood and I still worry when I leave my kids with other people," Cheryl T. of Brooklyn, New York, said. Worry certainly is a permanent part of parenting.

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