There are many milestones in motherhood that are often overlooked but very worthy of celebration. Here are ten you can start tracking – and applauding – today.
From the moment their babies are born, moms hear about milestones. They monitor whether or not their baby’s movements, babbles, and eating habits are on track while carrying the invisible load of motherhood already on their shoulders.
Sustaining life in and out of the womb is no small feat. Postpartum parents need to learn how and when to feed, change, bathe, rock, soothe, and hold their babies—all while they could use someone to do that for themselves during a significant physical recovery.
The products, research, schedules, and mindfulness needed to care for a newborn and beyond can weigh heavily on a sleep-deprived postpartum mom. And while a baby’s milestones become markers of early motherhood, they’re not the only benchmarks that warrant our attention.
Motherhood milestones to celebrate
Moms have milestones, too. Matrescence—the physical, emotional, hormonal, and mental development into motherhood—is a type of “birth” every new mom experiences.
They’re learning to walk, talk, think, and act in this new, maternal space. And even though moms are evolving by the minute, they don’t have any Instagram posts with a cute little wooden applique to show.
To compensate for lost recognition, here are a few early motherhood moments that deserve our praise.
Keep in mind you are not any less of a mother if some of these milestones don’t apply to you. Every parenting journey is unique.
1. The first feeding session
Feeding your baby can be overwhelming. The very first moment that you find a way to feed your baby successfully is a major accomplishment. Whether it’s by breast or bottle, that first meal is noteworthy.
2. The last diaper
Not your baby’s (unfortunately), but if you know, you know. That last waterslide-sized pad or adult diaper is a liberating feeling that indicates moms are getting closer to healing.
Not to mention, it’s nice to wear your favorite postpartum leggings again shamelessly.
3. The first baby wrap
Wearing babies is a great way to free your hands, and baby-wearing has many benefits, but some of the most popular wraps are difficult to maneuver.
The first time securing a baby in a wearable vessel and soaking in the freedom to do (most of) what you want or need to do is a breath of fresh air.
4. The first stroller ride
It could be amazing—or it could be stressful. There’s no telling how a baby will respond to the first walk around the block, and it’s an accomplishment to land safely in the garage post-stroll whether there’s crying happening or not.
5. The first crib nap
Contact naps can be magical but aren’t always realistic or an option. Once the first crib nap is mastered, whether long or short, it’s an achievement signaling some free time coming down the pipeline.
6. The first time driving solo with a baby
Moms deserve a medal of honor for the bravery required to pack up a tiny infant and head to—well, anywhere. Even a drive-thru Starbucks trip is worthy of recognition for moms braving a car ride for the first time without assistance.
7. The first workout
The infamous six-week checkup emphasizes intimacy more than anything, but the inaugural postpartum workout is a big deal and has many benefits.
Whether moms could work out throughout their pregnancies or not, exercising after six (or more!) weeks of hardcore recovery in a way that feels good is a significant milestone.
8. The first baby-in-tow restaurant outing
Will the baby sleep? Cry? Scream? Be completely fine? No one can predict the outcome of a dining experience with a baby, but those brave enough to give it a shot deserve a round of applause. The first time out with a packing mule’s worth of baby supplies stowed under the table merits a trophy.
9. The first time away from your baby
It might be an hour, a weekend, or a week, but after being intertwined with a little one for over a year, that first separation takes a lot of courage.
It’s not easy for moms to leave their babies for any time, even if their partner is on duty. Moms need “me” time, though, and the bravery to claim that time is commendable.
10. The first day of daycare
Labels, clothes, burp cloths, oh my! Daycare signals a more permanent separation than just a trip with girlfriends. It’s a necessity for many moms and a heart-wrenching milestone to navigate.
Moms who gather all the daycare supplies and tearfully drive away with their babies in their first-ever classroom should be applauded (and could use a hug).
More thoughts on motherhood milestones
This list could scroll on for eternity. Moms face challenging choices on a daily—even hourly—basis and make decisions with no guaranteed results on the other side of them.
They have to trust their instincts from the time they see a positive pregnancy test. They have to balance the impractical expectations of society, outdated parenting methods, and conflicting medical advice regularly.
Moms are often called superheroes, and they are—but not because they entered motherhood that way. Motherhood calls on a superhero level of bravery that every mom, no matter what decisions they make, practices every day.
It’s hard, it’s scary, it’s beautiful, and it’s rewarding.
We need to start commemorating all of the moms’ milestones happening behind the scenes of aesthetic Instagram posts for their babies.
Are there any milestones you have in mind? Please share them with us in the comments!
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Kaitlin is a new mom, writer, and editor with eight years of professional writing experience. She has written about mental health, personal growth, and community among other humanitarian topics.