I’m back to the newborn phase of life with my third daughter. (It’s amazing how many things I had forgotten about a baby in the last three years!) While everybody has a different take on life with a newborn, here is mine…
Ask questions. Taking care of another human’s life can be absolutely wonderful and terrifying at the same time. And unfortunately, they don’t come with a manual. It’s okay to ask questions to the pediatrician, your friends, or local support groups. With my most recent baby, I’ve been seeking advice everywhere about a cracked nipple that I’ve been trying to heal for weeks. You are not alone with your questions, so ask away!
Bathtime for baby doesn’t have to happen every day. Don’t feel bad if it’s been a few days (or even a week!) between trips to the tub. Because come on, is your baby playing in the sandbox with brother or sister? No. As long as you clean their bottom with each diaper change, and make sure all spit up gets wiped up, your baby will be fine. And I believe that too many baths dries out their delicate skin at this age anyways.
Crying is normal for both baby and mommy. Hormones are still a bit crazy for awhile after having a baby, so know that it’s okay to cry! Sometimes I cry because of lack of sleep. Other times, I’m just overwhelmed. And sometimes I’ll cry just because I’m rocking a sleeping baby and am in awe of God’s creation.
Diapers come in a variety of options. Whether you choose disposable or cloth, pick what is best for your family and your lifestyle. Just know, that in the first several days, you’ll be changing diapers very very frequently! Between 8-12 times a day is normal. And if you’re looking for some info on cloth diapers, read this.
Eat. Life with a newborn is busy because you are no longer on a normal schedule. It’s important that you nourish your body with good foods to keep up your energy. And if you’re breastfeeding, your body needs some extra calories and baby will benefit from a well-balanced diet. (But, feel free to enjoy some sweet treats too… I’ve had my fair share of ice cream lately!)
Fashion choices can be frustrating after having a baby. I personally don’t like wearing maternity clothes anymore by that point, but my pre-pregnancy clothes are wayyyy too tight! This can easily discourage anybody, but remain calm and find a few pieces that can easily be mixed and matched while your body is finding it’s new normal. And there is nothing wrong with wearing yoga pants and tshirts everyday!
Gas is normal for little ones. It may hurt them, but it may not. Just be prepared with gas drops because their gas can be very stinky!
Hair loss is normal for new mommas. It won’t happen immediately after birth, but be prepared in the months that follow to see lots of hair on the floor of your shower. It’ll stop eventually.
Ignore other people’s opinions. If you want to breastfeed in public, do it. If you want to bottle-feed your baby, do it. Don’t let others make you feel guilty for doing what you feel is best for your family.
Jaundice isn’t fun for anybody. Two of my three daughters had jaundice, and one of them had to sleep on bili lights for her first three days at home. I hated it. All I wanted to do was snuggle her and rock her, but I couldn’t. Pair that with daily heel pricks to get their blood checked and I was a mess! Get your baby in the sunlight for a little while each day and that will help tremendously.
Kegels are still be helpful after childbirth, so don’t stop doing them!
Laundry takes over the house after having a baby…. and that’s okay! With all the burp cloths and blow outs that happen, you might wonder if you will ever catch up on laundry. The answer is no. Or at least, not for long!
Memories are to be made during this time. Granted, you might forget lots of things about this time as well (thanks to the lack of sleep), but try to cherish each and every moment. Take pictures. Cuddle a few extra minutes. Stop what you are doing and stare at your little one’s features. You will never regret taking the time to just be still and in the moment for a little longer.
Noise is okay for babies. Don’t be afraid to vacuum, or to let your older children play. You might be surprised to know that the womb is not a quiet place. That’s why white noise machines are a wonderful thing to help baby sleep at night!
Order out and don’t stress about what you’re going to fix for dinner. There are some days that our schedule doesn’t work out for me to cook. The baby needs to be fed and my husband is on his way home from work and I have nothing even planned for the rest of us to eat. Luckily, a quick phone call for delivery or to have my husband pick something up is very helpful! It takes the stress away. Another option is to prepare some freezer meals ahead of time! This at least makes it much easier to prepare food last minute for your family.
Poop changes in your baby are normal… to an extent. In the first couple of days, it’s black and thick. Then if your baby is taking formula it’ll become browner in color and be pasty in texture. If your baby is breastfed, it’ll change to a yellow, runny texture. It’s also normal for an exclusively breastfed baby to go several days between bowel movements. Don’t be alarmed, but if you have any concerns, contact your pediatrician.
Quit being hard on yourself. You won’t lose the baby weight right away. You won’t be able to do everything that you used to. This season of life is a wonderful time to cherish and being hard on yourself will make you forget that. If you attempt to breastfeed and end up struggling, it’ll be okay. If you are upset that you can’t keep your sink emptied of dirty dishes, it’ll be okay. I promise.
Routine is good and bad. Some moms try to put their baby on a schedule right away, others let their baby decide the schedule for the day. I’m somewhat in between, especially while they are itty bitty. As they get older, routine is a wonderful gift for a child. It helps them to know what to expect next, especially with bedtime.
Stool softeners are your friend. Don’t be embarrassed to use them for the first several days after birth and while your body is healing. And don’t wait to use them until you have issues in the bathroom. Trust me on this one.
Talk to your baby. You may feel silly having a one-sided conversation, but your baby loves to hear your voice. And when they start to reply with coos and gurgles, you will melt.
Urinate when you need to! This is important for anybody at any stage of life, but after a baby, make sure you go otherwise you could be setting yourself up for leakage in the future. No fun.
Visit with your spouse or significant other about things other than the baby. Once you have kids, your life is consumed by them. It’s easy to talk about them ALL.THE.TIME. But for your sanity (and everybody else’s), talk about a few other topics as well.
Water! Drink a lot of it. Especially if you’re breastfeeding, you’ll need water to encourage and maintain a healthy supply.
seX has to be put on halt for a few weeks.
You time is important, but can be hard to find with a newborn. Maybe you can find a little time to go get a pedicure to feel pampered. Or even if you can get out and run to the store by yourself for a few minutes to grab a gallon of milk, do it. Being a mom is a wonderful experience, but it’s essential that you remember that you are more than just a mom.
ZZZZzzzz….. Nap when you can. People always use the phrase, “sleep when your baby sleeps,” but that isn’t always possible. My life right now consists of a newborn, plus a five and three year old. Naps obviously don’t happen for me often, but I do try to take it easy when I can. And if that means throwing on a movie in the middle of the afternoon so that you can put your feet up, do it.