The first month with a newborn can feel like a roller coaster of emotions for first time mothers. Here are 19 tips for not only surviving the first month with a newborn but thriving it.
As you reach 38-39th weeks of pregnancy, you can’t wait to have a baby. And the day arrives, after a long labor and delivery, you are ready to bring your precious little one home. Hoping to start your perfect life with perfect little human being.
Yeah, right !! Rather, you arrive home with a baby, that never stops crying and pooping. And can’t even tell you why he is upset and cranky. On the other hand, you are physically exhausted, and you want to sleep. What are you going to do now?
That was me, when I bought my firstborn home. I had my newborn essentials but blindsided by the fact that, being new mom comes with physical fatigue, mental stress, emotions and much more. Bringing second born home was much easier than the first one, as I was mentally and physically (somewhat) prepared about what to expect.
Here are 19 things you should know for yourself and baby to survive first month with newborn.
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19 Tips for surviving the First Month with a Newborn
Taking care of Yourself
Nine month of pregnancy, long labor and giving birth to most precious human being is physically and emotionally exhausting. Learning how to deal with all the changes and adjustments is required being a mom.
A mother needs to take good care of herself to regain her strength. You will need plenty of rest, good nutrition, and help during the first few weeks.
1. Call for Help
Seriously!! If you have a mother, grand mother or a friend, who are experienced and had done it in the past, please ask for help. Having experienced people around makes a huge difference in how to deal with crying baby, sleepless night and all uncertainty that comes with being a new mom. They are there to answer all your “Is it normal” question. Trust me, you will have lots of those.
Having help ensures faster recovery and gaining confidence with handling miniature human being. If someone keeps offering you advice and it is not working for your baby than you should trust your instinct. Suppose, If baby is crying even though you feed him recently, feed him again.
2. Feeling Insane
Welcome to motherhood. Its completely normal. Hormones are to blame for. Taking care of newborn takes so much. You may feel helpless trying to figure out everything about infancy but tell yourself that it is okay to accept uncertainty.
Feeling like to cry, feeling emotional, mood swing is okay but do know your limit. If you are stressed, talk to your loved ones, take a bath, watch TV or go for walk. Taking care of yourself is as important as taking care of your baby. After all Happy mom, Happy baby!!
If you are unhappy and stressed all the time, do not ignore it. You may have postpartum depression. Seek medical help. You do not need to feel alone. They will guide you to a counselor, medicine or support group. There are postnatal vitamins that not only provide you with enough daily nutrition for both of your optimal health but also give your mood a natural boost.
3. Rest when you can
Newborn certainly has different time clocks than adults. They typically awake at every 2-3 hours (that too if you are lucky) and need to be changed and fed. This can be exhausting for a new mother. You may need to forget about constant sleep for at least couple for months. The following suggestion will help you get going for time being.
- Sleep when baby is asleep- Listen to it!! This may not be enough but few minutes of rest several times a day can add up.
- Limit the visits for family and friends. You should not feel obligated to entertain.
- Have your’s and baby’s essentials close by to save steps and time
4. Find a time to Eat
A mother has gone through many changes during pregnancy and child birth. In addition to rest, all new mom needs to maintain healthy diet to promote faster recovery and healing. Whether you decide to breastfeed or not, importance of still eating cant be stressed enough. Most lactation consultants recommend that breastfeeding mothers should eat when they feel hungry. But many new mom does not want to eat as they may be so tired or busy. It is essential to plan simple and healthy meals that include grains, vegetable, dairy, protein and fruits.
5. Relay on Frozen Food
You’ll want to make sure that you rest and be with baby as much as possible during first few weeks with your newborn. Making sure to stock the freezer during pregnancy can’t be stated enough. If you are pregnant and reading this really should put this on priority list.
If you are getting help from family or friends, then guiltlessly hand dinner duty off to them.
6. Stay Hydrated
Staying hydrated is another thing that new mother forget about while constantly taking care of new born. Keep water bottle handy all the time. Breastfeeding mom will crave for water constantly.
Related reading : 8 Beverages to keep Breastfeeding Moms Hydrated other than Water
7. Don’t give up Breastfeeding
Yes, it hurts in the beginning. You will make it if you commit to first 3-6 weeks. Trust me, it will be so easy later. While breastfeeding, keep in mind that, your baby’s tummy is about the size of a walnut and they can’t eat enough to get them going for longer than 2-3 hours (or 30 min in some cases). So, do not worry about how much milk your baby is getting. Ideally, you will feed your baby at 2-3 hours, but if required feed them frequently.
If you are struggling with breastfeeding, here is an excellent Breastfeeding class by Milkology to learn about hows and whys of breastfeeding in just 90 minutes.
Read my full review on Best Online Breastfeeding Class for New Mom here
I can’t stress enough having a good breast pump. Breast pump is a real help when your nipples are sore, and you need a time for healing or when you are engorged. It will come handy when your husband is on baby duty at night. I used the Medela Freestyle breast pump and I loved it and most insurance covers the cost of it.
Related reading : How to Establish Breastfeeding to Maintain Milk Supply
Related reading : 17 Milk Booster Tips to Produce More Breast Milk
You might be too busy or too tired but taking care of yourself is as important as taking care of baby. Postpartum night sweats are common in first few weeks as body adjust to not being pregnant anymore. If you need to take a shower, go ahead and do it to feel fresh. You can shower while baby is sleeping or have your husband watch baby while you shower. Or if you feel like to go for a walk to get fresh air, do it. These small steps will keep you energized to get through newborn phase. Keep in mind that things will get better.
9. Let Dad handle it
Dad may have different way of doing things. But it may surprise you. With my firstborn, my husband would rock him to sleep very patiently whenever he cried at night or whenever I needed help with baby. Although it was very hard to see him forget to put diaper cream on baby, while changing diaper. He may need a gentle reminder or just walk away.
Remember, your husband is also a first-time dad and he doesn’t have lot of experience with babies, so it is scary for him too. He may be willing to do anything you ask him to do. So let them know if you need a help. Little help from a dad like bringing baby for breastfeeding at night or getting up for diaper change is still beneficial to the already exhausted mother for first couple of weeks. It just that they don’t know what to do so let them know.
10. Keep Essentials close by
Nine months of pregnancy, long labor and childbirth ( c-section or vaginal), you body has gone through so much. You don’t have energy to get up and walk every time for diaper or wipes or diaper cream or burp rags or water bottle or snack. So, keep all essentials in one basket and keep it close by so you can reach when you need it and carry the basket with you to the living room or any room you go with baby. It will save you lots of time and steps. It is not practical to keep running to changing table each time.
11. Join Local Mommy group
Breastfeeding or not, everyone needs support. You may want to join local mommy group or breastfeeding support group to get a help from nursing professional or experienced mom. With mommy group, you will connect with other moms who will understand what you are going through.
Joining local mommy group is great but stay away from online group. You will get conflictual information and you may end up feeling guilty about your choice that never have envisioned before. If you are formula feeding, you may feel guilty about not breastfeeding. After all, you need to do what is best for you and your newborn.
Taking care of a Newborn
Birth is huge transition for baby. For 9 months, they were at the most warm, dark and coziest place on the earth. Suddenly, they are brought to this cold, loud and bright world where they feel anxious and unsafe. You can help your newborn cope this transition smoothly.
Related reading: Free Online Newborn Care Classes
12. Skin to Skin Contact
Your chest is the best place for your newborn to adjust to life in outside of your womb. Skin to skin contact immediately after birth and first few weeks, stabilizes baby’s temperature, heart and breathing rate and keep blood sugar elevated. Compared with babies who are swaddled or kept in a crib, skin-to-skin babies stay warmer and calmer, cry less indicating decreased stress.
Keep cuddling skin-to-skin after you bring your baby home. Your baby will stay warm and comfortable on your chest, and the benefits for bonding, soothing, and breastfeeding will likely continue.
Use a baby carrier, wrap, or sling to keep your baby close to you. It is very helpful during first few weeks and also great and convenient as your baby grows. Baby wear keeps baby warm and cozy near your chest where he can hear your heartbeat and feel safe. This will help reduce stress in baby.
14. Trouble Sleeping
Do whatever it takes to get them to sleep: Nurse them, rock them, let them fall asleep on your chest or even in car seat. There is no standard way of getting them to sleep. Babies have their own schedule. I used car seat with base on my bed, rocked him gently in car seat to sleep and was able to go back to sleep for 2 hours myself ..comfy, cozy car seat is lifesaver.. Many parents worry about spoiling infant. But don’t think about that yet. Its about survival ..for you and your baby.
15. Soothing Infant
It Is hard to understand what baby wants in the first few weeks rather months. We learn by trial and error. The key is, mimicking womb like environment for them. Gentle swinging in your arm, shushing and swaddling may work. For my babies, sucking on pacifier worked. Although I did not give them pacifier after first 3 weeks.
My friend used white noise to sooth her baby. White noise gives you constant shhhhhhhh sound to mimic womb like environment for baby. Just place white machine near crib and turn it on. It could be lifesaver for you too.
Sometimes singing louder than their cries, also helps. Though, don’t scream in there ears…singing will do the job (it worked with my firstborn).
Related reading : 9 Best Narrow Nursery Gliders for Small Spaces
Related reading: How To Relieve Gas Pain In Infants Naturally
16. Bathing Babe
You really don’t have to bath babe specially first few weeks. Once the umbilical cord has fallen off, you can bath your baby once a week if you are confident about handling baby as they are so tiny and slippery. Keeping him warm during a bath is main concern, among others. You will need a helper to transfer him after bath. So if you are alone, don’t even try..way too scary. If you really want to clean him, give a sponge bath. That’s way easier..
There is a big buzz among parenting group regarding co-sleeping or crib-sleeping. Co- sleeping isn’t recommended with newborn because of the increased risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) due to lose bedding or not having enough room between parents.
But you can practice safe co-sleeping (I did) if you put baby to sleep in co-sleeping bassinet next to your bed. Safe co-sleeping improves sleep for both baby and mom, avoiding any safety pitfalls.
Related reading : 5 Ways to Make a Bassinet More Comfortable for your Newborn
18. Try to give Baby a Bottle (Only when nursing is established)
This will help you immensely, if you have a cracked nipple or you need a break for couple of hours. I had a bad cracked nipple at around 3rd week and needed a break from breastfeeding to heal. I pumped and gave him a bottle for 2 days. It gave me much needed break from breastfeeding and got few hours of sleep at night while my husband was on bottle duty.
Beware though, introducing bottle before establishing nursing is no..no., if you are planning to exclusively breastfeed. Babies will get used to sucking from bottles with easy milk flow vs hard work that they must do to pump out milk from breast.
Related reading: The 10 Best Bottles for Breastfed Baby
Related reading: The 10 Best Bottle Warmer for Breast Milk
19. Build a Routine
Babies love routine so you should start building a routine. It will take time, but it will be the best thing you will do keep your sanity for the first month.
Start paying attention to baby’s cues and cries. It will help you know what to expect. You can follow the Eat, Sleep, Play or Eat, Play, Sleep routine, though baby won’t always follow the schedule. Easiest way to keep tract of baby’s schedule is using an app. Advantage of using an app is you get to see pattern overtime and it can help you decide what works for your baby the best.
How much do Newborns Sleep in the First Week?
Newborn needs the most sleep in the first few weeks of their life. They sleep 16-17 hours per day. They typically stay awake for 2 to 3 hours at a time. They also wake up frequently during that time. As your baby gets older, they sleep for longer stretches of time.
Is the First Month with a Newborn the Hardest?
Yes, for most moms the first month with a newborn is the hardest as you are with your little one who is completely dependent on you for everything. The newborn phase has its own mental and physical challenges like – sleep deprivation while you are still recovering from birth, someone needing your constant attention, and not to mention breastfeeding challenges.
It does get better when your baby is three months old. But there are certain things that you can do make life little easier.
As mentioned earlier getting into a routine is the key for both baby and parents to recharge their batteries to survive the first few months with a newborn.
In the first few days, you need to start paying attention to baby cues. It will help you establish a healthy sleep habits for your newborn.
To do so, you need to learn the basics of baby sleep, which is by no means any specific sleep training method. Even if you try sleep training your newborn, it wont work as they are too young to be trained. But you can certainly teach your newborn to fall asleep without assistance in their designated sleeping space.
This will not only help them self-sooth and out themselves back to sleep but also limit nighttime wakeups later on.
Sounds amazing right!!
You can master these skills easily by taking this well designed online Newborn Sleep course Baby We’re Home! Now Let’s Sleep specifically designed to deliver the basics of newborn sleep to new or expecting parents of newborn between 0-3 months old.
This course – Baby We’re Home! Now Let’s Sleep is developed by certified infant sleep consultant – Andrea De La Torre and Leisel Teen (creator of the Birth It Up! Labor classes and Newborn care class).
Here are the highlights of what this online class covers,
- Emotional Readiness (for you and your baby)
- Introduction to Sleep Training
- Why do babies Fight Sleep?
- Creating the Perfect Sleep Environment and avoiding SIDS
- Feeding Babies in regard to Sleep
- Newborn Sleep 101
- How to calm a fussy Baby at night?
- What to do if baby won’t sleep alone?
- Help with scheduling
Amazing thing about this course is that it won’t break your bank. For less than $50 you are learning so much plus getting lifetime access to the course and other freebies. Also, this course comes with 30 days money back guarantee, so you have nothing to lose purchasing this course.
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Acceptance is key to survive The First Month with Newborn
The big picture is everything is going to be okay soon. Do not stress too much about how are you going to handle everything. When a baby is born, mom is born too, and motherly instincts comes naturally to you.
If they are crying, consider that they are breathing. You have no control over when they want to cry, feed or sleep. So key is accepting the fact that it is going to be like this for first few weeks or a month or 3 months.
Remember that, it is a huge transition for babies. Mom’s job is to Make sure that this transition is as smooth as possible. In the end, though, there is so much joy. Don’t forget to capture those moment, keep camera or iPhone handy.
How about You?
How was your first month with newborn? Do you have any tips to share? Leave your comments below.