My younger sister is having her first child (my first ever nephew) any second now (she's due today) and I want both of them to be as healthy and happy as possible. I've already threatened her with the hellfire of my older brother wrath if she doesn't breast feed the kid and I've pointed her to a lot of awesome resources that she'll probably never read. She's not paleo at all and probably won't be for a longgg time, if ever.
That being said, talking to a non-paleoer, what would be the single piece of advice you'd give a brand new Momma?
As a mama who nursed her first for several years and is going strong with the second (20 months), I'd agree with the above advice. I'd also tell her to perfect her smile and nod. People ask all sorts of annoying and/or dumb questions ("is she a good baby?" "does she sleep through the night?" "have you started cereal yet?"), and they also love to give advice, so a good solid smile-and-nod can go a long way!
Find some way to get her to eat liver every week. Have a butcher make sausage where 1/4 of the meat is liver and it's heavily spiced, put it into chili...whatever it takes. That alone is probably going to make the biggest difference for the health of both of them. Pregnancy and breast-feeding leach out a lot of vitamins and minerals that need to be constantly replenished.
I know you've already mentioned it in your post, but it would absolutely be breastfeed, breastfeed, breastfeed! For as long as possible. I would also advise acquiring some method to wear your baby. I loved my sling, but whatever she likes and will use is the best choice.
Whoa - hard question - just one piece of advice...
Hmmm for the next few days my biggest piece of advice is what goes in must come out - and it will come out - no matter how it happens it will happen! Hydrate and moisturize before during and after.
For motherhood - listen to yourself - and figure out how to do it as you go. You can plan all you like - but the little person coming out has no use for your plans.
DON'T stress (too much) and ask for help when you need it - and take help when people offer, even if you don't think you need it.
Try to take a breath and enjoy it and take too many pictures.
Make sure the baby is breastfed. This along with going through the birth canal is how we get the good bacteria that have a huge impact on our health. IMO a lack of these two things is responsible for many of the diseases we see in this country, especially autoimmune diseases and inflammatory bowel diseases as this compilation of research shows http://courses.washington.edu/nutr526/news/biospec.htm#_Toc516479386. Some studies have also shown that our good bacteria affect brain development http://blog.autoimmunetherapies.com/gut_buddies/2011/03/30/gut-bacteria-may-influence-brain-development-and-behaviour/. Also, it's important for the mother to have a stress-free pregnancy and do as much as possible to keep her cortisol levels in check (see questions on PH about how to do that) because research shows that this has an effect on how children respond to stress for the rest of their lives http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/4286512.stm.
Aside from breastfeeding, proper nutrition from the very start of life is so important. If I had it to do all over again, I would've never let my kids get a taste of sugary, salty, crap foods. I would've fed them right from the beginning to hopefully avoid them craving and becoming addicted to that kind of junk. Fresh fruits, vegetables, and meats/eggs/fish etc would've been given from the start of solid foods. Also, I would've made sure that water, coconut water/milk, and occasional fresh squeezed juice were the main options for hydration after cessation of breastfeeding. No soda, Gatorade, koolaid crappy drinks.
Truthfully? New moms get PLENTY of advice. It's almost always well-intentioned, but it can be pretty freaking stressful (hello! cortisol!) and annoying to be bombarded by people -- even your beloved brother -- telling you that you MUST do X and you must NEVER do Y with they sometimes explicit, but nearly always implicit, suggestion that if you fail to do so, you clearly don't love your child and/or the advice-giver.
I would suggest that most new moms need unconditional love and practical support from their loved ones a hell of a lot more than they need advice.