Your first weeks home with a new baby can be awkward and scary. Here’s what to expect and how to stay sane.
That being said, there are many, many things about the first few weeks of parenthood that are so. not. easy. I’ve thought through what helped me get through the past two months with my sanity (mostly) intact and came up with these Few Tips for Surviving Life with a Newborn.
Sleep when the baby sleeps.
That first month, you can really feel like a zombie. The only way you are going to get enough sleep is to sleep when the baby sleeps. Using the baby’s sleep time to try to catch up on housework, projects, thank you notes, etc. is only going to cause sleep deprivation in the end. There is plenty of time for all of those extra things later when baby gets into a more organized sleep pattern. Right now, use baby’s sleep time for the most essential activities like eating and the occasional shower, and your own sleep and self-care.
After your baby has established a good latch and there are no concerns for nipple confusion, and once your milk supply is well-established, your partner can take over a nighttime feeding with expressed (pumped) breastmilk so you can have a longer stretch of sleep.
MAKE MIDDLE-OF-THE-NIGHT FEEDINGS MANAGEABLE
Whether your baby is 6 lbs. or 10 lbs., all newborns have very small tummies and need to eat at least 8 to 12 times during each 24-hour period. This means you’ll be waking up during the night with baby for feedings. So, prepare yourself for the inevitable by figuring out ways to make nighttime feedings easier. Try finding ways to clear tasks so you can nap more when baby sleeps during the day.
ACCEPT HELP FROM OTHERS.
You cannot do it all right now. Take those meal offers, and those offers to help fold laundry or clean. If you have older kids and a friend or relative is willing to take them to the park or library for a while, let them. People offer to help for a reason – they want to.
DON’T STRESS. (OR STRESS AS LITTLE AS POSSIBLE.)
I remember when my first was born, any little noise she made when she was sleeping made me think she was going to wake up and start screaming. I’d be trying to get something done and totally stressing that I wouldn’t finish in time. The first time around, you’re constantly worrying about what the baby is going to do next. Try to accept that sometimes things won’t go exactly as planned and that it’s really okay if baby has to fuss for a few minutes while you get that chicken in the oven or help big brother with the potty.
MAKE SUPER EASY MEALS
Think slow cooker meals, bean and cheese burritos, pasta and marinara… This is not the time to test out your gourmet cooking skills. You will get back into the kitchen if that’s what you love, I promise! If you can, stock your freezer before baby arrives. You will be so glad to have nutritious meals ready with very little effort.
DON’T SET YOUR EXPECTATIONS TOO HIGH.
Choose one or two simple things on your list to accomplish each day. Some days all you might get done are brushing your teeth, taking a shower, and taking care of baby. In the beginning weeks, that’s a great day! It’s okay. The things that really need to get done will get done eventually.
Give yourself grace
Nothing new is ever expected to be easy the first time. So, it takes 5 tries to get something right. Give each other a big high 5 on that 5th try! Celebrate each new win. Recognize that you are getting better and that some things are getting easier. It is hard to see those things when you are tired. Take time for gratitude each new day. Find something to complement each other on every day.