It is such an incredible feeling to bring the first baby home from the hospital. A moment moms have dreamed of for a long time. She can't wait to get out of the hospital to the comforts of home. To establish her own routine and settle into life with a new baby.
Shortly after you arrive home, you realize that you aren't quite sure what to do now. It feels a little anticlimactic. Now what? It is so surreal to have a baby in your house. You settle in, relax a little bit, and try to establish some normalcy. It seems to go OK. As the day comes to a close, the feeling changes just a bit. Night time feels like a big deal. Am I ready for this?
Up until this moment you have had people leading the way. Showing you the ropes. Telling you exactly what to do. How could these people expect me to be able to do this on my own? I have no idea what I'm doing. How am I supposed to keep this baby alive without an instruction manual. Where is my "what to expect after" book?
That first night is intimidating. Everything is new. All decisions are on you. As the world goes to sleep, you feel the pressure mount. There are bound to be moments that you didn't expect. The baby never cried in the hospital, but it does now! Here are 15 things every new mom needs in order to survive their first night at home with a new baby.
15 Mom On Speed Dial
There are always a million little questions that pop up as you adjust to a new baby. Things you never expected. Each of these will require some sort of validation that you are doing something right. A small confidence boost. Who better to ask these questions to than the woman that raised you? Mom knows all. She has a great base of experience to learn from. You can trust her advice because you turned out OK, right?! This is one of the few people in the world that will always have your back 100%. Plus, she won't be upset when you call her at 3 AM with a stupid question. Quite frankly, she will probably be disappointed if you didn't. After all, she is a Grandma now. She has a vested interest in your success rate as a mother. These stupid questions will give you a bonding moment to include funny stories for years to come.
14 Using Google
When you don't want to call mom just one more time, or maybe you have a crazy question you are too embarrassed to ask her, you always have Google as your backup. I google everything. I do mean EVERYTHING! It provides instant answers. Best of all, instant validation that I am not alone and there are lots of other people out there feeling, thinking, doing exactly the same thing I am right now! Sometimes this feels better than having your mom tell you it's OK. Because it's not your mom, it's a random stranger or website that isn't going to sugar coat something to make you feel good. Now you can appear to the world that you have it all together because no one needs to know about your crazy questions. You look like a pro! No embarrassing stories later as everyone recalls that one time when you asked about...
13 Baby Bed Next To Yours
Many people set up a baby crib in their room, I know because I was one of those people. I figured it would keep the baby close while at the same time make a crib transition later much easier as they were already used to it. I quickly realized it was a waste of space. The baby hated it! He was far more comfortable and slept better in a little rocker bed next to mine. I was more comfortable, too. He was closer. Trust me, you will want that baby as close as possible! First, you need to make sure they are still breathing, right?! Second, to watch them sleep because it is the sweetest. Most importantly, because you will be really sore after coming home from the hospital. Having them right beside you ensures you don't have to get up out of bed and go very far to get to them.
12 Your Cell Phone
While your cell phone is likely never far from your hand, this first night home will be no different. Sitting up in the rocking chair in the wee hours of the morning, you will want to scroll through social media. After all, you will have tons of likes and comments on all of the latest photos you have posted. In addition, you will need to be able to take more pictures to document the first night home and the baby sleeping. It is possible there will be selfie moments to capture with that sweet little bundle. Then of course the clock. You will want to keep tabs on the time as you stay on a feeding schedule. Pregnancy brain immediately turns into mommy brain and you lose all track of time. Your phone alarm will come in handy to make sure you are staying on top of the important things.
11 Notebook To Fight Off Mommy Brain
At the hospital the nurses required you to document every feeding time and diaper change. They provided paper and checked it every time they visited. This became a habit. Later I realised this was for good reason. If I wasn't constantly writing it down, I would never remember when the last time was that I did anything! When I got home, I realized I was lost without those little papers. I was always trying to remember when the last time was I took my pain medication. Or when did the baby eat last? All of the things that are pretty important as you transition to life outside of the hospital. We also realized that it made communication easier for the team helping to care for the baby. We all knew what everyone else had done and when it happened. For me, this was crucial until we got into a normal routine and groove.
10 Blessed Adrenaline
There is very little sleep happening once you give birth. Even in the hospital you have a constant stream of interruptions. A nurse entering your room once an hour to check on you or on the baby. Then you have doctors stopping by, visitors popping in, and a new baby you can't take your eyes off of. The bed is uncomfortable. Your schedule is completely out of whack. It is literally impossible to sleep. You think going home will be the answer, but it's not! You are literally living on adrenaline. It is carrying you through and it is necessary! That first night is so surreal you will want to hold your baby and sit up in the rocking chair all night. I believe this is training for the rest of motherhood when you learn to live on very little sleep. It is how you learn to balance everything and get so much done.
9 A Partner
They are your lifeline! Not only are they there to help take care of the baby and get the things you need during that first night. They are also there to help take care of you. This was something I struggled with. My focus was 100% on that new baby. I forgot to feed myself so he would go to the kitchen and dig up food. I forgot to take my pain medication so he would help me keep track of when it was due. He even had to remind me to stop and try to get some sleep. He was there to help me remember all of the things that I was forgetting, and there were a lot! When I would get nervous and start to freak out, he would calm me down. When I had absolutely no idea what to do, he would be my Google researcher and offer ideas.
8 Formula And A Bottle
Like most moms, I was set on breastfeeding. It was the plan. Things went well in the hospital. I thought we were on the right track and had it down pat. However, that first night we had a breakdown! The baby was screaming, starving. My milk hadn't fully come in. I couldn't get him to calm down or latch and I was freaking out. He was beyond consolable. So was I. We had no idea what to do, but we knew the baby needed food. So we broke down and got out the backup formula and bottle. While we had no idea how to mix a bottle or how much to offer, it was our saving grace that night! Exactly what we needed to survive. Things calmed down. The baby got fed. Everyone was able to get through it and regroup. So have a willingness to use the things you swore you wouldn't. For sanity's sake.
7 Easy Food
It is so easy to forget to eat and by the time you realize you haven't eaten you are beyond starving! You've likely not been home for a few days. The groceries in your house are severely lacking. Even though you have your partner there to help drum up some food upon request, it is not always an easy thing! Stock up on some easy to grab, quick to make meals. Keeping your calorie count up is important not only for breastfeeding purposes, but for your own strength. You have a lot going on. You need to make sure your body is equipped to handle it. When friends and family ask what you need, have them bring you meals for your fridge or ask them to run to the store. It will be a huge, necessary help! One less thing for you to have to worry over or stress about.
6 Lots And Lots Of Tissues
Plan to have a box of tissues at your side that first night. Believe it or not, you will probably cry at least once. Maybe because you are so overwhelmed and happy about meeting the love of your life (sorry hubby). Possibly because you are freaking out and wondering how in the heck you are ever going to be able to do this on your own. Or you just feel like crying for no reason. Regardless, hormones are running high! It is completely normal. You still have absolutely no control over your emotions. You thought that would disappear with pregnancy, but you were wrong! Those emotions stick around for quite some time as your body readjusts to life after pregnancy. So keep those tissues close as you settle in for the first night (and beyond). Even if you are not normally a crier, you will likely be glad you have them!
5 Swaddle Blanket
Learn the art of the swaddle! I found that it was always a nurse swaddling the baby in the hospital. Every time they came in the room they would take the baby and wrap them up tight like a burrito. I really had no idea how they did it, nor did I understand why. I figured it was to keep them warm. If you are like me and didn't pick up the skill while you were at the hospital, find a YouTube video to teach you. Babies love to be swaddled and you will need this skill. Having a good blanket is necessary! Maybe even have a couple of different types because every baby is different. Trial and error is a part of learning what your baby likes most. What works. Swaddling the baby will become part of your checklist as you figure out what will make your baby stop crying.
4 Mom's Gut Instinct
Even though you feel as if you have no clue what you are doing, don't forget to trust your gut instinct. It is amazing how quickly your mothers intuition kicks in. You may not trust it yet, but it is there. It will guide you though this journey called motherhood. All the times your baby cries and you have no idea why, as you learn to navigate the unknown, your confidence will grow and you will realize you've got this! Even that first night, in between moments of panic you should take a chance on your gut. Learn to trust it. It will rarely let you down. Even if it goes against what everyone else tells you, sometimes it is worth trying. A mother knows her child better than anyone else. You instinctively know what is best for them. Don't let the stress of the first night get in your head.
3 As Much Sleep As Possible
Sleep is a necessary part of healing. You likely haven't had much sleep over the last few days. I know you probably don't feel very tired. You just want to sit up and watch the baby sleep all night long. After all, they are just the cutest thing you've ever seen! However, it is so important to learn to sleep when the baby sleeps. You never know when they will wake up and have a crying fit that freaks you out. You will need your energy and ability to think rationally in order to be the best mother you can be. The faster you heal the faster you can get started with a new routine and bring some normalcy to your life. So try to just watch the baby a few minutes and then do your best to drift off and get some much needed rest. Your body will thank you!
2 Lots Of Laughter
In that first night, nothing will go according to plan. You might as well throw all of your expectations out the window before it even begins. That is the only way to do it and maintain your sanity. Be prepared to have moments that make you feel inadequate - to have times where you question why. Then let them all go. They are not worth holding on to. You will learn that everything in motherhood is a phase. It is all temporary. I have found that laughter really is the best medicine! Learn to laugh at your mistakes. As you fumble around in the dark trying to figure out how to work your breast pump or find where you put that pacifier. Don't let the stress take over. Just learn to laugh at yourself. It really helps to take the edge off as things get tough. You can't take any of it too seriously. Tomorrow is a new day.
1 A Long Stick
As you settle in for that first night, you will want to make sure you have a long stick. This may sound like a crazy addition. However, I promise you that it will come in handy for likely the next year. While your husband has been super supportive all day - he has brought you food, remembered your medicine, helped out with the baby, and googled nearly everything that has happened - he will reach a point where he decides it's time to cash in for the night. Trust me when I say men can sleep through anything! He will be snoring in bed as you sit in the rocking chair and attempt to navigate the next feeding on your own. There will always be something you need. You can't holler to wake him up for fear of waking the baby. So that stick works to poke him awake for his next round of helping out.