These are just tips that helped me personally - either ones I read while I spent hours googling, ones people shared with me or ones I came up with myself. I am by NO MEANS an expert or even know what I am doing. I just wanted to compile a list so that (A) I could refer back to it should we have another baby and (B) maybe it would be helpful for someone else!
Also, some of these tips I figured out on my own and some of these I learned from other people, blogs and conversations. I tried to thank the people that gave us this advice!
It’s OK to cry...a lot.
I seriously was NOT prepared for the baby blues and the craziness of the hormones leaving my body. I literally cried about EVERYTHING for 2-3 full weeks. Brad was a saint and so supportive and encouraging. The best advice I received and read was to talk about how you are feeling with your support system. No matter how bad you are feeling or what you are feeling, TALK about it.
Make one to three small goals a day to help you feel like yourself again that first week.
I never expect the baby blues to take such a toll on me, but I cried everyday for two weeks. I was sad about everything from not being at the hospital with OUR AWESOME NURSES to my clothes not fitting to not having Brad’s full attention. Being goal oriented people, we decided that we needed to make a few goals each day to accomplish and feel like we are back in our house and to feel like ourselves. My goals at first were simple like “take a shower, brush my teeth and make my bed.” If I didn’t do anything else, but those three goals - I felt like I could make it another day. As the days started to get a little easier, we added more and more goals like “run one errand,” "Allie take baby on errand her self," "allow one visitor," etc.
Schedule an appointment with a lactation consultant after you get home from the hospital. (Thanks to Nurse Brenda from our Labor Class for this advice!)
There are lactation consultants in the hospital. Definitely use them if you can. However, I was so overwhelmed when I was in the hospital, I couldn’t focus on anything she was saying. I was so worried I was doing everything wrong so we schedule an appointment with LC. I brought her HUGE list of questions I needed answered and I walked out of our appointment feeling so much better and confident in my breastfeeding abilities.
The first poop post birth is absolutely terrible. (NO ONE TOLD ME THIS! HAHA!)
I won’t go into details about my experience, but if you are curious - you can read other people’s stories. Google post-birth poops, everyone has their own stories. Ask for stool softeners ASAP and drink Miralax (OK to drink everyday). If it gets too bad, Milk of Magnesia can help as well. I had taken EVERYTHING and still struggled. You aren’t supposed to “push” so I just chilled on the potty with my Squatty Potty to help! It’s a miracle worker.
It’s totally OK to turn away visitors at home.
The baby blues are real. I was even MORE emotional at home than the hospital! I felt like Brad was taking care of two crying babies! All I wanted was my mom and Brad so when people asked to come by, I had to say no. It wasn’t until late week three that I started to feel OK with visitors that weren’t family.
If you do allow visitors, only allow ones that are bringing you something or coming to help. (Thanks to the Nurse Brenda that taught our baby class for this advice!)
This may sound selfish, but is pivotal. People are coming to see the baby, so get them to help out first. When they say “can I bring you something,” have a list of stuff you might need and pick a thing or two off this list to tell them. This was advice we got from our baby class and it is so true and helpful! It helps so much. We’ve needed everything from stamps to diapers and it was so so so helpful to have someone pick it up for us so we didn’t have to go out. Also, when they get to your house and ask if they can help with anything, say yes and tell them what you need. It was so hard for me to ask for help, but once I realized how much it DID help, I started to be OK with asking my brother to cut our watermelon or put up our dishes.
If people bring you meals, freeze half of the meal for later.
People are going to want to help anyway they can and most of the time that means bringing you a meal. When they bring that meal, it’s normally A LOT OF FOOD. I can’t eat the same meal more than two times in a row so to prevent getting tired of food and wasting it, we froze half of the meal right when we got it! That way we can eat and enjoy it right away and then have more food in the freezer once the meals stop coming!
Swaddleme Sacks, Pods and Halo Sleep Sacks are God’s gift to new parents.
We were so concerned with Stella getting cold at night. These things were amazing and helped her stay asleep. We actually prefer the Swaddleme Pods! When Stella was tiny, the fabric on the Halo Sleep Sacks and the Swaddleme Sacks were a little loose and I was so nervous the fabric would ride up and cover her face. The Swaddleme Pod is literally a little pod that you just zip up! I actually JUST bought another one this past week. STELLA loves it!
Wear a pad everyday, even if you think you aren’t going to bleed any more.
Because you will.
Keep a bucket or tote with essentials that you can carry from room to room. (Thanks to Ashleigh for this advice!)
The first few days, I was collecting all of my items and moving them from our bedroom to our living room every day. It was a lot of stuff. I had my hand sanitizer, cell phone, notebook, snacks, pacifier, burp cloth, water bottle, nipple butter, lanolin cream and more. It was too much to keep up with so I got a basket from dollar tree and kept everything in it to transport from room to room when needed. It’s been a lifesaver.
Get a big bottle of hand sanitizer.
We were washing our hands a ton and any chance we could. However, there were sometimes that STELLA wouldn’t let us put her down long enough to wash our hands so the hand sanitizer bottle was super helpful to have to clean our hands. And we had it out so guests would have clean hands before holding STELLA.
Bring snacks and water to bed. (Put in your tote!)
Those middle of the night feedings made me hungry so I kept granola bars and fruit snacks along with my water cup in my bucket so I always had something close by without having to get up out of bed.
Keep a sheet saver or changing pad in your bedroom.
STELLA'S NURSERY is literally less than a foot from our bedroom, but it was exhausting having to go all the way in there in the middle of the night. It seems silly, but we kept a sheet saver (or changing pad) with diapers and wipes in our bedroom so we could change her diaper on our bed. It saved us valuable sleeping time.
Napping when baby naps is great advice, but might not be feasible.
Everyone told me this - "nap when the baby naps." I had such a hard time doing this. Whether I was worried about the baby or she didn’t really sleep or I just had too much to do, I just couldn't really nap when she did. The only time I really could nap was when Brad was home or someone else was around to watch her. And that is OK.
Cluster feeding is awful, but just a phase.
Cluster feeding is when a baby eats a lot in a short amount of time. They normally do it at night or before a growth spurt. Let me tell you that it sucks. It was a mind-f*&k. It messes with your mind and is physically exhausting. My worst days were cluster feeding days. Luckily, our cluster feeding days only lasted a day or two. They were every week for the first month, but they were short lived. It was just hard to see that when I had fed STELLA every hour for 6 hours.
When in doubt, whip your boob out. (Not my phrase. I know this is a phrase from some article online, I just can't find it, sorry!)
The first few weeks were so confusing. I had a hard time figuring out what STELLA wanted so if I did everything I could and she was still upset, I’d just feed her. Sometimes she was hungry and sometimes it was comforting nursing, but when you are a new mom sometimes you just want your baby to feel ok so you comfort nurse.
Four possible reason baby is crying: Hungry, dirty diaper, gas or tired. (We read this somewhere, I can’t remember where.)
Knowing this helped me rule out the causes of her unhappiness and eventually figure her out!
The Happiest Baby on the Block is the best book ever and the tips work!
I’ve only read the very beginning so far, but I use the techniques and can calm STELLA in under 3 minutes! Every. Time.
Stop googling. (I read this in a bunch of blogs...while googling.)
I literally drove myself crazy googling everything from “how long should my baby sleep?” to “what is thrush?” Dr. Google is not good so stop googling. Write your questions down so you can ask them at your next doctor appointment.
Feed baby when she is hungry. (Thanks to LOTS of blogs and mommy boards I read for this advice.)
I struggled with this at first. I SOO wanted Stella to be on a schedule right away, but I had to let go and just let her led the schedule. She was eating every 1.5-2 hours instead of every 3 (like I read online that most newborns do...I have to stop googling) and that drove me crazy. Once I let go and just fed her when she was hungry, we were both more happy!
Schedules will eventually form, but at first - don’t watch the clock. (Thanks to LOTS of blogs and mommy boards I read for this advice.)
We are a month in and Stella is started to set her own schedule. She eats roughly every 2 hours on the dot and at night, sleeps for one 4-7 hour block and another 3 hour block. She wakes up between 5AM-6AM every day so it’s nice that I’ve been able to track her schedule.
Baby Wearing is awesome.
I’ve tried the Moby and the Baby K’tan. So far they are both great! The Moby is annoying to wrap and can be a bit warm.
Get good nursing bras.
I went through several before I found ones I liked. Also, I got some the day we came home from the hospital and they were too tight for the first two weeks. Then after my milk regulated, they fit great! The ones that fit great right when I came home were too big three weeks in.
Skin to Skin calms baby. (Thanks to the Nurse Brenda that taught our baby class for this advice!)
Our baby class nurse told us that if nothing else is working and your baby is still fussing, do skin to skin. It calms the baby. It worked for us!
Put baby’s bassinet on Husband/Partner’s side of the bed
I was waking up at the slightest sound coming from Stella’s bassinet. Even with TWO sound machines, I heard every sound she made and shot up in bed. When she was about to turn four weeks old, I finally put her on Brad’s side of the bed so I didn’t keep waking up. Brad is a deep sleeper so he didn’t wake up at every sound. Just the important ones like when she was crying. It helped me get so much more sleep!
Be honest with how you are feeling, no matter how dark it seems. (Thanks to the Nurse Brenda that taught our baby class for this advice!)
The one thing Brad wanted me to promise him was to make sure I was honest with how I was feeling. I made sure I did just that, even if it was a bit darker than I’d like to admit. He was and still is such an incredible support system for me AND Stella that I don’t know what I would have done without him!
When baby is napping and you are watching them on the monitor, you don’t have to go get them the minute they start moving around.
I type this as I am watching Stella on our monitor. I was about to go pick her up 30 minutes ago because she was tossing around, but I waited and watched and who would have thought - she was still asleep! She would have missed out on her extended nap time if I would have gone to pick her up! Just like us, she tosses a bit when she sleeps. And she needs to sleep! (We learned she was a bit OVER tired and we really needed her to catch up on some sleep.)
What tips have you learned that could help me enjoy the next 18 years with our first born?