You are sure that you have everything you need at home to help the first few weeks run smoothly, and you can't wait to get started. Right? Or....
You might feel overwhelmed by the task of looking after a newborn, especially with not many people on hand to help you. Virtually all new parents feel like this so the first thing to remember is not to beat yourself up about the way you are feeling.
So when does a new baby get easier? The following tips can help you find your groove sooner, and really enjoy your first few weeks with your baby. So breathe, relax and let's dive in!
This is the one piece of advice that you have probably heard over and over again, but it is something that you should try to do as often as you can. Your baby will be waking every few hours for a feed while they are so young, and so every opportunity you get to take some rest should be taken.
Newborns sleep for up to twenty hours a day, but it is probably not going to seem this long to you. Sleep in during the day may be more difficult if you have older children that need looking after, but it is important that you get enough rest during these first weeks.
Ask your partner or another member of your family if they can come and watch the baby for a few hours while you are getting some much needed rest. They can always bring the baby to you when it is time for feeding.
Have you ever thought about co-sleeping? For us personally it was the best thing we could do for everyone's sleep. Here's a great video by Amanda Muse on the myths, the why & how of sleeping with your baby:
You will probably be inundated with people trying to arrange a visit in the first week or so after baby is born. If all you want to do is sleep, then the last thing you probably feel like doing is entertaining.
If it all feels like it is getting too much, then don't be afraid to say no when someone asks if they can visit. You can rearrange for a later date when both you and baby are feeling more settled and you will probably find that most people are very understanding.
Things like responding to cards you have been sent and writing thank you notes can also wait a while. A few quick texts will be enough until you actually have the time to sit down and go through everything properly.
You might do a lot of crying in the first week that you are home with your baby. You still have hormones raging all over the place and you are not getting nearly enough sleep. Looking after a baby is hard work and you are going to feel frustrated at times which will lead to a lot of crying.
There will be tears of joy within all this crying though, because you are so happy that your baby is here and because you love them so much. Even though they come with tears, these feelings of happiness should be held onto, and they can help you get through the difficult times in the first week.
Crying is not necessarily bad for you, and even has it's benefits, as described here. That said, you should be aware of signals that could indicate a postpartum depression (commonly referred to as a postnatal depression). If you think you are becoming depressed, talk to a loved one and seek help. These are some signs of PPD you need to look out for:
Because still many women suffer in silence from a postpartum depression, share the PPD checklist below to raise awareness. And who knows, save someone's life!
You may be surprised at how much extra work someone so tiny can create. There will definitely be a lot more washing, and if you are bottle feeding, these will need to be washed and sterilized almost constantly in the first few weeks when baby is having as much as eight bottles a day.
This inevitably means that your other chores are probably going to slide, especially when combined with the fact that you have very little energy, and you are still recovering from childbirth. Accept that your house may be below your usual standards for these first weeks and don't give yourself a hard time.
Seriously, let it go. Relax, and put your favorite record on 🙂
You will be given a lot of advice about what is best for your baby, from doctors and nurses as well as from family and friends. You are sure to find that a lot of this advice contradicts what others are telling you. Even though they are just days old, you know your baby better than anyone, so take advice on board by all means, but at the end of the day you have to do what feels right for you and your baby.
A nice inspirational piece of advice by Karamo Brown on instinct and parenthood:
You are not going to spoil your baby by giving them a cuddle as you try and get them back to sleep. Things are going to seem very strange for your baby as they adjust to life outside of the womb. Cuddling can recreate the feeling of being enclosed and so can bring baby a great deal of comfort. It is very important for bonding with mommy and daddy, and for her physical and emotional development.
You will find that in the first few weeks your baby will find it difficult to get to sleep without being rocked and cuddled by you and do you have nothing to worry about by getting your baby off to sleep in this way.
But how do you get around and get stuff done? Carrying your baby in a baby carrier will give that closeness, while at the same time two free hands to handle most tasks. Which carriers are most suitable for you, depends on your situation and preferences.
Check out my reviews of the top baby carriers if you want to know more.
The final point, and probably the most important is that you are a great parent. There are times when will feel like you are never getting anything right, but this will pass. All your baby needs from you is love, and you certainly have a lot of that to give.
You have probably already had people say to you that they don't stay babies for long and this is so true. Enjoy every moment while you can so that you have some wonderful memories to look back on in the future. When you look back on this stage a few months down the line you will wonder what you were getting so stressed about.