Adjusting to life with a newborn is a huge change and requires a lot of self-sacrifice. For those of you who want a behind-the-scenes view of life after baby see my post on What Life as a New Mom is Really Like. Here are some things that I did before and after the baby came that that made life during those first few months easier.
1. Assign Tasks
Assign someone the task of coming to the hospital, taking pics and emailing your friends and family the info ASAP. Everybody will be dying to see that newborn cutie.
2. Prep for Down Time
Record your favorite shows. This way, when you are feeding your baby you won’t be stuck watching talk shows and court dramas.
3. Learn How to Get Your Baby to Sleep
A great book on getting children into good sleep habits is Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child. Believe me, you’ll want this and it would be best to read up before the baby is born. At about week four I was desperate and ran through several books trying to find out what was normal and how I could get more sleep. There is loads of conflicting advice out there. But this book is written by a pediatrician specializing in child sleep research and his advice WORKS!
4. Stock the Freezer
The last few weeks before I had Sophia, every time I cooked dinner I froze the leftovers. I identified the containers with strips of masking tape that I marked with the names of the dishes and stuck to storage containers. By the time my baby came, the freezer was full. Between that and the food family dropped off, we didn’t cook for a whole month!
5. Enlist a Labor Advocate
If you want things to go a certain way, have a birthing room advocate (i.e. your husband, significant other, mom, sister, friend or doula). Most likely you will be in too much pain to disagree with nurses and doctors who will quickly make decisions for you. Read why I believe “Birth Plans are Useless.”
6. Learn From the Nurses
While in the hospital take full advantage of the help that nurses can provide. I asked every single nurse on every shift to help me with nursing. My boobs were handled more in those three days than in my entire life. But I found that each nurse had different tips and ways of doing things. It helped me figure out what worked best for me. So, don’t be modest. Ask to see the lactation consultant to make sure that you’re doing everything correctly. They really are the wisest when it comes to nursing.
7. Don’t Get Discouraged With Breastfeeding
Although it seems like it should, breastfeeding doesn’t come easy and can be a trial those first few days. The hospital lactation consultant reassured me that the baby really doesn’t need to eat much the first three days or so. Its body is recovering from the birthing process and will naturally lose a little weight during that time. If the baby doesn’t seem interested, don’t freak out. The nurses can be a little overzealous and cause new moms to be anxious about nursing. But, the first few days are more of a practice session. What’s most important is that the latch and positioning is good so that when baby does get hungry, it’s a go.
8. Make Nursing Easier
Get the tools you need to make nursing easier whether it’s a foot stool, a cushy chair, a pump or a nursing pillow (FYI, the My Brest Friend Pillow is awesome! Way better than the Boppy. I have both.)
9. Prepare for Leakage
I recommend padding nursing bras. They prevent leaks from showing without you having to buy and stuff your bra with nursing pads.
10. Purchase Easy-Access Clothing
If nursing, load up on button down Henley’s, and tops and sweaters that zip down for easy access. I stocked my drawers with pajamas that had button tops so it was easy to open in the middle of the night without the chilliness of lifting up my entire shirt.
11. Know That Nursing Can Hurt
You should know that despite what the magazines and the nurses say, your nipples will hurt. Even if the position and latch are perfect. Mine were sore and scabbed up even though the lactation consultant gave us an A+ for posture and lips-t0-nipple fastening during our hospital stay. But hang in there, your nipples will toughen up by around week three and you’ll be pain free.
12. Think Convenience
Are you in a two-story house? If so, an essential item is a pack and play to use downstairs. We keep one in our office and use it as a changing station so we don’t have to take Sophia upstairs every time we want to change her.
13. Take Care of You, Daily
Taking a shower every day and getting dressed with make-up on was essential for me to feel like I was still in the land of the living. In order to do this, I put a travel swing in my bathroom and put her in that while I took a shower.
No doubt you’ll find your own systems to make your life easier and the mini-indulgences (yes, showers become indulgences) that make you feel like you.
What items are on your pre-baby to-do list? Or, as a mom, what helped you most in those first few months?