Motherhood is most definitely a wild ride. It's a journey that needs to be experienced in order to be truly understood, and it's a tall order to attempt to prepare an expecting mother for the beauty, and the magic, she will face after giving birth.
From the moment a newborn baby enters the world, wriggling and crying and cooing and smelling like heaven, a new mother's life will never, ever be the same. She faces discomfort, exhaustion, moments of doubt and moments when she feels like her heart can't possibly contain all the love she has for her precious new child's tiny toes and cherubic cheeks.
Luckily, every new mother is privy to the advice and expertise of the moms that have come before her. Many of the mamas who have lived through the first few weeks at home with a new arrival have shared what they learned from the experience, and what they wish they would have known before bringing the baby home.
Their words of wisdom are sure to help those who have yet to experience this intensely wonderful, terribly terrific, awesome and totally overwhelming time. Read on for 20 ways to survive the first few weeks at home with a newborn from the mouths of some of the magnificent mamas who have lived it.
20 Plan Meals In Advance
Stocking the refrigerator and freezer with delicious, nutritious pre-cooked meal is something many moms recommend doing before Baby arrives. The last thing a new mom needs worry about is where her next meal is coming from. If she's prepared in advance, her first few weeks at home with her new baby will be much easier.
One new mom wrote on a forum on MumsNet, "I find the food and meals advance planning a good idea. Freeze soups, bread and other meals."
Another poster on the forum shared, "The precooked meals that you can make in advance and freeze (or someone else could make for you) is a very good idea. You really need to make sure you eat well and [do] not push yourself too much."
19 Hire A Postpartum Doula
It is becoming more and more common for new mothers to hire postpartum doulas to come to their homes in the first few weeks after giving birth to help out with household chores, offer some relief and give a new mom an opportunity to rest and recover from childbirth.
A poster on a MumsNet forum suggested to an expecting mother, "What about a postnatal doula on some days? She could bathe and give tea to your son and maybe deal with the newborn for an hour [or] so while you rest or enjoy your first born."
Another poster on the forum agreed, writing, "Recruit help! I have looked into being a doula myself as I know how hard it can be when you have no family living near."
18 Accept Help
It isn't uncommon for new moms to feel like they should be able to handle everything all by themselves after bringing Baby home. The truth is, the more help a new mom gets, the better her chances of enjoying the first few weeks with her child. Friends, family, and partners are often more than willing to help out. Let them!
A wise poster on a forum on MumsNet wrote: "Accept all offers of help."
Speaking about her advice to new moms on TheBump, Cliona F. echoed this sentiment, suggesting, "Accept help — friends and family really do mean it when they offer!”
17 Establish A Routine
Establishing a routine in the first few crazy weeks after giving birth can make things much easier.
New mom Bekah wrote on PurelyUnrefined, "With my first son, within a week or two we had an excellent, established routine. His feeding schedule was every 3 hours on the dot and his nap and sleep schedule was almost just as consistent. This allowed me to plan my day accordingly, including taking time to take a shower and get myself ready, workout (once I was cleared), and eat or get dinner ready toward the end of the day."
She continued, "These are the things that seem trivial but trust me, when you have days where you feel like a zombie mom, these are the small tasks that can just make you feel normal again."
16 Sleep Whenever You Can
A poster on MumsNet forum wrote, "When baby sleeps, try to get some sit-down time yourself (or a shower or hot cuppa!)...Avoid the Supermom syndrome. You really can't expect to have a spotless, tidy house and effortless routines when you have...a newborn! So give yourself a break!"
The takeaway? Sleep whenever, wherever and however you can. New moms need rest in order to recover, and so they will have the energy they need to care for their new arrivals.
15 Chill Out
This may be easier said than done, but taking deep breaths, trying to relax and keeping worries at bay can really help a new mom to stay sane.
A poster on a MumsNet forum suggested, "Chill out (ha - easier said than done - I never managed it, but it would have been great if I did!)"
As stated, being chill with a newborn around can be challenging, but if a new mom can manage it, she'll enjoy her time with her little darling much more than if she spends her days worrying about what may go wrong or stressing about what isn't getting done.
14 Go Easy On Yourself
New moms need to know that they are learning as they go, and that's totally and completely okay. Mistakes will be made. Things will be difficult, but the last thing a new mom should do is be too hard on herself.
Many moms who have lived through the newborn phase want those who come after them to know that it's okay to cut themselves some slack.
Bekah wrote on PurelyUnrefined, "One of the most important things to remember when you first bring your baby home is that everything you do from here on will be a learning process. Even if you’re an experienced parent, your new baby could be completely different from your previous children and respond completely different as well. You have to learn their individual personality and needs."
13 Make Time To Do Something Relaxing
Having a baby doesn't mean a new mom can't enjoy herself. Making it a priority to have fun and spend quality time with other children and a partner can make a huge difference.
A poster on a MumsNet forum suggested, "Try to set aside some one on one time with [your partner]. He will feel he is still an important person and you have enough love to go around!"
Speaking about other children who may be struggling to adjust after a new arrival, she continued, "Feeding time is tricky since [your child] will know you have your hands full so to speak. Try to set him up with an activity or video nearby before you start feeding bub, or if you can manage one-handed you can even read him a book. That makes it a special time for you all rather than a time he will be trying to get your attention away from the baby."
12 Don't Stress About Housework
The house may get a bit messy during the first few weeks after Baby comes home. Not only is this totally okay, it's perfectly normal.
New moms are human, after all, and their priority whenever they have time to spare should be resting and recovering...not scrubbing toilets or doing dishes!
A poster on a MumsNet forum advised, "Forget the housework! Only do the essential stuff and try not to get stressed about the rest. Recruit [family members] as your helpers, [they] will love having a go at dusting, polishing or sweeping, and it doesn't really matter if [they] don't do it properly!"
11 It's Okay To Cry
One thing many women don't realize going into motherhood is how difficult it can be. It's okay to feel sad, overwhelmed and even mourn the loss of how life was before Baby entered the picture.
A poster on MumsNet wrote, "If your hormones catch you out and you burst into tears all the time, or scream at toddler for no reason, don't be afraid to apologize. Just say that you're feeling a bit miserable at the moment and why don't you all have a bit of chocolate or whatever to cheer you up."
Kristin B. shared on TheBump, “It’s okay to cry. You’re going to be emotional; most moms are.”
10 Remember, This Phase Won't Last Forever
New moms may feel like the intensity of the newborn stage and the sleeplessness many suffer through will never end. When things get really rough, remembering that this stage won't last forever may help a new mother feel a bit better.
This phase of life is an intense and overwhelming one, but it goes by so quickly. Those who are really struggling may be comforted by reminding themselves that more sleep and more freedom are on the not-so-distant horizon.
Amanda M. revealed to TheBump, “Remember that this part goes by quickly, and before you know it, you’ll forget that they used to spit up all day.”
9 Trust Your Instincts
A new mom may feel like she has absolutely no idea what she's doing, but Mother's intuition and natural instincts will be there to help her every step of the way. While it may be difficult, new moms should remind themselves often that are usually acutely aware of what is best for their babies.
Believe it or not, a mother often instinctively knows what is best for her child. She should trust those instincts and use them to her advantage. Well-meaning advice and late night Google searches are helpful at times, but are not always necessary.
Joann W. shared on TheBump, “Trust your instincts. Quietly listen for them...they’re there!”
8 Trust Your Partner
Some new moms may feel like they are the only ones who really know what is best for their precious little ones. It can be difficult to let go a bit and allow a significant other to share some of the burdens of caring for a newborn.
It's important to allow a partner to have the opportunities and invaluable experiences that come when bonding with Baby. Letting go and trusting a partner to share the responsibilities can make the newborn phase much easier.
Julie C. advised on TheBump, “Trust your partner and let him do as much as possible while you rest and heal. Take it one day at a time and stay positive.”
7 Take A Lot Of Pictures
It isn't uncommon for new moms to get so caught up in the craziness of life with a newborn that they forget to capture all of the blissful moments they will long for when their babies are grown.
Other moms with newborns snap plenty of pics of their little ones, but aren't in any of the shots because they worry they look disheveled or have bags under their eyes. New mamas will never regret capturing the sweet and precious moments they are sharing with their new arrivals, even if those moments aren't always as pretty as a picture.
Mom Lisolette recommended on TheBump, "Take lots of pictures."
Liselottes also advised on TheBump, “Snuggle...Don’t let visitors distract you from enjoying it.”
At any given moment after a new baby arrives, Mom will have about a billion things to get done. There are burp cloths to wash, meals to make, onesies to fold, spit-up messes to scrub and the list goes on and on and on.
A new mom will never regret allowing the things on her to-do list to stay undone a little longer while she snuggles her treasured tot. Not only are snuggles good for the baby, and proven to regulate heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing, they are great for Mom too. Go ahead and snuggle to your heart's content. The rest can wait.
5 Slow Down And Enjoy It
As difficult as the first few weeks home with a newborn can be, most moms agree that it's a time they will forever cherish. Many wish they would have enjoyed the magical moments with their newborns more than they did, and had allowed themselves to stop sweating the small stuff.
Shevi shared on TheBump, “Force yourself to slow down and enjoy sitting still. Enjoying a slower pace doesn’t come naturally to most people, but try!”
It's human nature to feel overwhelmed and stressed out by everything that needs to get done after a baby arrives, but slowing down and enjoying time with a beautiful babe is something a new mom is entitled to do, and will never regret.
4 Don't Feel Bad About Limiting Visitors
It's only natural for extended family and friends of new parents to want to come by, snuggle the new arrival and give their congratulations to Mom and Dad. However, many moms wish they would have spoken up and asked visitors to give them more space and time to heal and get to know their babies.
A poster shared on a MumsNet forum, “Keep reminding yourself that this is the hardest part and that you’re doing an amazing job. Also, keep visitors at bay for as long as you can!”
As mentioned above, if loved ones are coming by to offer help and support, they can make a huge difference for the better if a new mom wants them there. However, visitors that stop by expecting to be fed, entertained or catered to should be kept away as long as possible.
3 Prioritize A Daily Shower
Before having a baby, many might think that something as trivial as taking a shower doesn't seem like anything grand. However, after giving birth, showering becomes a task that is cherished and longed for. Taking time away from a newborn to shower and feel refreshed can really help a new mom to feel more like herself.
A new mom advised on a MumsNet forum, “Shower and get dressed immediately before doing anything else. It makes a huge difference in the way you act and feel.”
Believe it or not, moms have needs too. It's okay to take time for yourself after having a baby. Taking a little time to recharge, even by doing something as simple as stepping into the shower while a trusted caretaker watches the baby can help Mom get the much-needed break she most likely needs.
2 Take Things One Day At A Time
It's a given that the first weeks home with a newborn will be difficult. Adjusting to a new way of life is a huge deal, and getting used to the new normal will take time.
Relaxing, breathing in and out and taking things one day at a time, one hour at a time, or even one minute at a time can really help a new mom cope.
A poster on a MumsNet forum shared, "The other thing I would say is to really treasure the [time] with your...little baby. I couldn't believe how mine seemed to age overnight when I got back from the hospital. He seemed so big and old compared to the tiny baby I had brought home."
1 Do Things Your Way
It's common for well-meaning friends and family to offer their two cents about how they feel a newborn should be cared for. Quite possibly the most important thing to remember after giving birth is that YOU are the boss when it comes to how you choose to raise your baby.
Bekah advised on PurelyUnrefined, "You and your significant other are in charge when it comes to your new baby and everyone that comes in contact with your baby should respect that. Yes, there are doctors and nurses that may know a little better when it comes to your baby’s health concerns, but you have instincts, so USE THEM!"
She continued, "Being the boss also applies to your family and friends. This is your baby, and the decisions and rules that you establish from the beginning are going to affect you and your baby above everyone else. You know what’s best for you and your family."