There are few moments in life where you will experience unprecedented highs and unbearable lows within a few short moments. One instance that will surely lead you on a rollercoaster of emotions is when you bring your newborn baby home.
The first week as new parents is challenging and you may feel as though you are drowning in the endless cycle of breastfeeding, burping, bathing and diaper changing. Worry not; we’ve compiled thirteen tips to make your first week with your newborn a huge success!
13 Healing Your Body
Giving birth is a traumatic experience for your body. Unfortunately, your first week with baby will also be a period of recovery for you. It can take a minimum of six weeks for your body to heal from bruising, swelling, stitches and sore muscles. Additionally, your uterus may cause you pain in the form of cramps as it contracts back to its normal size.
Ensure that you are taking care of yourself in addition to your new baby during your first week at home. Many mothers use a sitz bath to ease discomfort following labour. A sitz bath is simply a shallow tub filled with warm water. If you had a C-section your recovery time may be longer as your abdomen will need sixteen weeks to recover from surgery. Take any advice your doctor offers seriously, you need to take care of yourself if you want to recover properly.
12 Getting Through The Night
You will quickly find out that newborn babies do not sleep through the night, but there are steps you can take to ensure that you get the rest you need. Start a bedtime routine with your newborn as soon as possible. Babies tend to catch on quickly to routines so if you feed, rock and then put her in her crib, she will gradually associate those steps with sleep. Try to avoid letting your baby fall asleep completely in your arms. Instead, put her in the crib when she is awake but drowsy, this way she will equate her crib with sleeping.
Additionally, teaching your baby the difference between night and day is crucial if you want to get a good night’s sleep. You can do this by taking your baby outside or sitting her near a window in the day to see the sunlight and hear the noises. Then when bedtime comes around focus on things being quiet and dark.
11 Getting Dad Involved
First-time dads can be intimated when it comes to handling baby, which is why it is key to involve him from the beginning. Let your partner spend time alone with your newborn, even if it is just for a quick diaper change. He may not perform every task exactly as you would, but he will quickly catch on which means more help for you.
As a mother, you get a bit of a head start on being a parent as you grow your new baby inside of you. It’s likely that your labour is the first time your husband felt like a parent. Give him time to adjust and provide encouragement whenever possible. As your husband gains confidence handling the baby he will tend to take on more responsibilities with her and give you some much needed time to rest.
10 Showering Or Bathe Daily
It’s common for new mothers to put off bathing while caring for a newborn. The time and effort it takes to have a shower or bath may seem like too much, especially in the first week. As long as you have the go-ahead from your doctor to get your stitches wet, take the time to shower.
Even a quick five-minute shower can leave you feeling refreshed and ready to face a new day with your baby. If you are lucky enough to have an additional five minutes, throw on some light makeup. It may sound weird but you can trick yourself into feeling better simply by sprucing up your appearance. Next time your husband offers to hold the baby while you shower, take it; the warm water can wash away more than the two days worth of spit-up in your hair.
9 Calming Your Crying Baby
Your baby will cry, that’s a given so knowing how to calm your baby will save you time and time again. Newborns often go through the period of purple crying; a phase where they cry more often than any other time. This phase typically starts at two weeks and can last up to four months. That’s a lot of crying! It’s very important not to panic or get stressed out when your baby cries since they will sense and react to your emotions. Instead, try some of these tried and true methods for calming a crying baby:
- Swaddle: If your baby wakes up crying in the night they may have startled themselves awake by their own movements. Securely wrap your baby in a blanket before naps and bedtime to avoid this cause of crying.
- Rock Your Baby: Find your baby’s favorite way to be rocked and use it to calm her whenever she is upset.
- Rub or Pat her Back: She may be crying because she’s gassy, rubbing or patting her back can help release the gas in the form of a burp.
- Keep Her Mouth Busy: Offer a finger, breast or pacifier for your baby to suck on – it’s difficult for your baby to cry when their mouth is busy doing something else.
8 Nursing like a Pro
Babies love to eat, it’s one of the few things they will actually do in the first few weeks at home. Although breastfeeding is the most natural, ideal way to feed your baby it can be a lot more difficult than you may think. If you are a new mother struggling with breastfeeding, know that you are not alone. Here are just a few ways you can improve your nursing experience:
- Seek Help: Nursing may seem like something women should instinctively know how to do, but it’s hard to grasp the concept for some. Ask your hospital if they have nursing classes or a lactation consultant. Having a professional show you the mechanics of nursing can be a huge help.
- Be Prepared: Nursing can be incredibly time-consuming, make sure you prepare yourself prior to sitting down with your baby. Grab a glass of water, a magazine, or the television remote. Breastfeeding will be easier if you are both comfortable during the process.
- Try a Warm Compress: Use a heating pad or warm washcloth to soothe blocked ducts; it should help the milk run more smoothly.
7 Soothing Your Own Emotions
Your body will still be recovering during your first week home with your baby and your hormones will be struggling to adjust as well. It’s normal to feel a wide range of emotions during this time. Although you may feel as though you’ve lost your sanity, these tips can help soothe your emotions and calm your mind:
- Get Support From Others: If you are feeling overwhelmed, communicate that to your partner, friends or family. Asking for help is always a good idea.
- Get Extra Rest: Sleep when your baby sleeps to avoid over exhaustion and emotional complications.
- Eat Well: Good nutrition is key to building your strength and energy back up after childbirth. If you are breastfeeding you will need to add an additional 500 calories a day to your diet.
- Drink Extra Fluids: If you are breastfeeding you will need to drink an extra five cups of fluid a day. Try to get your fluids in by drinking a glass of water every time you sit down to breastfeed.
The health of your body has a huge impact on your emotional well-being. Ensure you are making an effort to heal both your body and your emotions so that you can feel like yourself, sooner.
6 Accepting Help
Welcoming a newborn into your home is both exhilarating and exhausting. Never feel ashamed to ask for help. Being a parent is the most challenging job you will ever have, especially in the first few weeks as parents. The African proverb “it takes a village to raise a child” couldn’t be truer. When your family or friends offer to help, graciously accept it. Your loved ones will never fault you for needing a hand; chances are they were offered a few as well.
5 Asking for Space
There will be times where you’ll feel like you just can’t take the crying, the nursing and the diapers. During these times it’s okay to ask for some space. It doesn’t make you a bad mother for needing some time to gather yourself, after all your entire world has changed with the birth of your child.
It’s important for your emotional health and your relationship with your partner to take the time you need to recuperate. Make the most of your space by getting out of the house; take a walk and breathe in the fresh air, sometimes that’s all you need.
4 Restricting Visitors
Your family and friends will be eager to meet your new bundle of joy and this can become extremely overwhelming. The last thing you need on your first few hectic days at home is an endless parade of visitors. Try to restrict visitors to only family in the first few weeks to lessen the stress on both you and your baby.
It can be difficult to decline visits from your friends and extended family, but stay strong. The visits will be more enjoyable for everyone if they are postponed for a bit. Allow your new family time to get adjusted and bonded before you add a bunch of extra people into the mix.
3 Bathing Baby
Giving your baby their first bath can be incredibly intimidating but bathing your baby can be beneficial for the both of you. Bath time can improve parent-baby bond, and soothe and promote sleep in a fussy baby. Here are a few tips for baby’s first bath:
- Be Prepared: Gather all the supplies you will need prior to putting your baby in the bath. This ensures you won’t be running around the house with your naked, wet newborn looking for the baby shampoo. You will need; baby-safe soap and shampoo, a couple of washcloths, some bath toys, a towel, and a small basin filled with warm water to wash your baby in.
- Keep Things Warm: Babies lose heat very quickly so make sure that not only the bath water is warm, but the bathroom air is toasty as well. Fill the basin with just enough warm water to cover the bottom of their body and test the water temperature with your elbow (it’s most sensitive).
- Get A Grip: Things can get slippery when your baby is wet. Make sure to slowly slide your baby into the basin, feet first. Use one hand to support her head and the other to support her bottom.
- Less is More: Your baby probably isn’t as dirty as an adult would be, so you don’t need much soap to give her a good clean. Always make sure to use mild products to decrease chances of skin irritation.
2 Letting Things Go
It can take some time to adjust to having a newborn in your home, don’t expect to keep everything together. Let the little things go. Allow the laundry to pile over, order take-out more than once. It won’t make you a bad mother or wife, especially if forgetting the little things is helping you to maintain your sanity.
The only thing that you should be focusing on in the first week is taking care of yourself and your new bundle of joy. The house will still be dirty when you have a better handle on things, deal with it then. For now, order in your favorite pizza, or hire a maid for the day. You’re keeping a small human alive, that’s enough for now.
1 Being Kind To Yourself
Nobody is a professional parent, especially during the newborn phase. It’s a phase of trial and error. You will laugh, cry and even sometimes feel like screaming. As with all new experiences in life, it will take you a while to feel comfortable and in control in your new role as parent. Be kind and patient with yourself and your partner, it won’t be this hectic forever.
Newborns bring chaos into your life, this is true, but they also bring in an unparalleled amount of love and joy. Hang in there, between the moments of chaos, you will find moments of pure bliss.