The first few weeks at home with a newborn baby can be a roller coaster—physically, emotionally, and mentally. Here are our uncut, unfiltered tips for new moms for surviving those first couple of weeks with your newborn.
by Kaitlin Severini
Ask for Help
Don’t be afraid to ask friends and family for help—they want to help, but they don’t always know what you need.
Also, reach out to professionals if you want to vent, need breastfeeding advice, or need some sleep! Therapists, baby nurses, nannies, lactation consultants, and postpartum doulas can make life easier, and hiring any of these people says zero about your ability to mother.
Build a Routine
Babies develop routines early—so pay attention to baby’s cues and cries, and start building that routine. It can help you know what to expect; though baby won’t always follow the schedule! Some moms like the Eat, Sleep, Play or Eat, Play, Sleep routines.
Or maybe you’ll create your own. (Veteran tip for new moms: use an app! I kept track of my son’s feedings, sleep, and tummy/reading time on my phone, and when I began to see patterns, it was a lightbulb moment.) Even if you have just a teensy bit of control over what can be a chaotic time, it’s a huge win.
photos by Ana Ramalho
Go for a Walk, Take a Shower, Drink Coffee, Check Your Email
Finding 40 minutes a day (10 for a walk, 10 for a shower, 10 for coffee, 10 for email) will help you feel like yourself and not just “Mom.” Of course, you can spend your minutes however you like—I took 10 minutes to do my makeup, even if I wasn’t going anywhere! If you’re by yourself, plop baby in a Boppy lounger or a rocker (within view) and you can still take that shower.
Make Healthful Choices
You might feel a little down after baby comes home. Your moods will be erratic, and unlike celebrities, you usually won’t look like your pre-baby self hours after giving birth. It’s tempting to eat whatever you want. I know, trust me. And it’s because you’re tired. Because it’s quicker to eat junk. Because you’re unhappy with your body, so who cares what you eat at this point, right? But you will feel so much better if you eat healthful, nutritious foods.
Try to get items you can eat with one hand, since you will be holding, feeding, burping, and rocking a baby much of the day. So almonds, carrots, low-sugar granola, or a Clif bar and string cheese—that last bizarre combo was my go-to—and lots of water. Stock up a few weeks before your due date, so the snacks are waiting for you when you come home.
This advice for new moms isn’t for everyone, moms and babies alike, but wearing your newborn can be a great hack for you and baby. I wore my son from the time he was just a few days old, and the skin-to-skin contact helped solidify our bond and our nursing relationship.
It was also a guaranteed way to get him to sleep! Once he was snuggled in, I would walk and bounce around for a bit and he’d be out. I could go to the store, sit and eat lunch (with two hands!), and my partner and I could go to dinner.
photos by Ana Ramalho
Take Care of Your Breasts
Chances are, you’re going to try breastfeeding, even if it’s just the first few days or weeks at home. Baby’s sucking motion is no joke (if your partner doesn’t believe you, tell them to put a—clean!—finger in baby’s mouth). If you’re having trouble getting a good latch, the result can mean cracked, bleeding, or even blistered nipples.
Make sure to gently wash your nipples after each feed and place a cool washcloth on them. Then use a salve to help them heal. Also, massage your breasts and use warm compresses to unclog ducts.
Remember, Every Stage Is a Stage (Temporary!)
Your newborn will not be a nearly blind, bobble-headed eating machine who needs to feed every two hours forever. And you won’t be a moody lady who’s banned from exercising for the rest of your life. To me, that’s how it felt!
But a friend gave me some great advice for new moms everywhere: if I just kept reminding myself that every stage would pass eventually, that there was a light at the end of tunnel, it would help me get through each one of them. It did.