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 wasn’t prepared AT ALL. I was 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’r 18 things you should know for yourself and baby to survive first month with 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 Heeeelp
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.
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.
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.
While breastfeeding, it is important to get a good latch establishing your milk supply and adopt hold position that is comfortable for you and your baby. Here’s a good article to learn all about breastfeeding in first few days after baby is born.
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.
8. Find a Time for Yourself
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 month of pregnancy, long labor and child birth ( 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.
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 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).
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.
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.
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