Congratulations On Bringing Home Your Newborn!
Your first weeks at home with a newborn are overwhelming. A new little person is completely dependent upon you for their every need. They are adjusting to life outside of the womb and sometimes it is a tough adjustment. All the while, you are trying to be kind to your recovering body, and navigate your changing relationship with your partner. Here are a few mantras to help you retain your sanity.
1. This too shall pass.
The struggles of pregnancy are over, just to be replaced by postpartum aches and pains. It is important to remember that the newborn phase is just that – a phase. Often called the fourth trimester, the first three months of your child’s life are a time for you to heal and to get to know your newborn. Your baby will be learning how to live outside of you and learning about their world. Everyone will tell you to treasure this time with your child, but the first few months are HARD. There is no challenge you will face, no role you will take in your life, that will compare to the transition of bringing a baby home. It is okay to be a wreck and to be overwhelmed. It won’t be forever.
Breastfeeding is a challenge in the first few weeks but it does get easier. It will get more comfortable as you and your baby fall into a rhythm. Your nipples will heal. Feeding sessions will become shorter and more predictable. You will start to understand your baby’s hunger cues. In the meantime, carry lanolin with you everywhere. (I like Medela Tender Care Lanolin – It spreads easier than the other brands I have tried. Take time to properly establish breastfeeding. Invest in some soft, cotton or bamboo nursing pads and some wireless nursing bras.
Your body will heal. Eventually, you will not be scared to poop. Sore breasts – hell, a sore entire body – will not last forever. You might have loose skin and stretch marks forever. That’s ok! Wear them with pride. But your still puffy belly will go down around 6 weeks postpartum. You will start to once again feel like yourself.
2. You are doing a great job.
As a mom who suffered from Postpartum Depression, I could not hear this or say it to myself enough. The fact that you are worried about being a good mom is, in fact, a sign that you are a good mom. You will flounder and you will feel that you don’t have any clue what you are doing – none of us do. Each child has a unique personality from day one; it takes time to get to know them. You will make mistakes. Your child will not remember. No new mom has their shit together. Sometimes your newborn will cry when you have done everything you can do to comfort them. Don’t take it personally. It happens to all of us and is not a reflection of your mothering skills.
3. It is okay to ask for help.
When your friends and family ask what you need, TELL THEM!
Newborn babies sleep for two to three hours at a time. That is enough time for a shower and a quick nap. Have Dad, Grandma, or a trusted friend spend the afternoon at your house with the baby. Nap, shower, relax. Have them bring the baby to you to nurse and go back to sleep. Sleep deprivation is a dangerous thing, and difficult to avoid without help. My sister helped with this in my daughters first week’s and I am pretty sure that it saved my sanity.
Things that you did every day in your pre-baby life can seem daunting. Ask for help with the baby so that you can shop for groceries or finish chores around the house. Be vocal with your partner about how you are feeling. It is okay to delegate some of your responsibilities to them during this transitional period. Lean on each other. Resume your usual responsibilities slowly and be careful not to overdue it.
Some Extra Advice for New Mamas
- Go out – Put some makeup on, wash your hair, and leave the house for at least an hour, with or without the baby. Don’t let the walls of your home be a prison.
- Don’t be afraid to say no – You need your rest. You need space to get used to nursing. You need some silence when the baby is sleeping. It is okay to say no to company or an invitation. It is okay to go to bed at 8 p.m. rather than watching TV with your husband.
- Reach out to other moms – Every mother you know is a valuable resource. Build yourself a community of mothers you admire and reach out to them often. Ask about sleep, diapers, nursing, etc.
- Exercise – Exercise helps to balance your hormones and generally makes you feel better. The goal is not to get your pre-baby body back. The goal is to get strong and stay healthy.
- Eat – New moms forget to eat. Get to know your crock pot. Keep some cut fruit or protein shakes handy to make sure you are getting your calories in. Stock up on easy foods – think fresh fruit, sandwich fixings, cut veggies. Having the time or energy to cook will be a rarity, so take the work out of it for yourself.
- Plan – When you are ready to start getting back to your normal routine and responsibilities, make sure than you plan your days and maximize your productivity during nap times. Crock pot meals, meal planning and prep, and developing a calendar for housework can be super helpful. Check out my post on productivity for extra tips.