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The door just closed and you feel the slow movement of the car pulling out from the parking lot… You look out the window to mentally say goodbye to this tall building you stayed at…
All of a sudden you realize that your world has completely changed.
It`s not just that you feel more tired than ever, even though you have spent the last 2 days in bed…it`s not just that it hurts to sit and you feel a cramping pain in your abdomen…it`s not just that you look different from 2 days ago…
It`s that quiet breathing you hear coming from next to you…and you think to yourself, how come they didn`t give you a 300-page book preparing you for this?
It`s slowly sinking in. You have a small, incapable, dependent, fragile human being entrusted to you. The experienced and reassuring doctors and nurses have said goodbye.
It`s just you and the baby.
How on earth will you ever survive the first week?
Dear Mama! I am here to tell you that you will survive and do it well!
I had three babies and with each, I learned something new. I am here to help you with a few simple pieces of advice to ease your fears and be a helping hand on your journey starting out motherhood.
Rest, rest, and more rest
I get it. You feel like you could handle the dishes and cooking, and why shouldn`t you? After all, you only had a baby.
Your body has gone through a lot during the last 10 months and at delivery. There is a reason why OBs recommend the postpartum checkup after 6 weeks: that is how long it takes for everything to be back to normal physically since pregnancy.
At 6 weeks, you will also feel an invisible curtain lifted as if life has become finally manageable. You will have had a routine, a little more handle on things and less (hopefully none) physical pain and emotional ups and downs.
Trust me on this: just rest and make it to 6 weeks!
You aren`t lazy or whiney! It took me having 3 babies to allow myself the rest my body and mind needed after birth and I want to spare you the trouble. I have gone through uterine infection and low milk supply as well as severe postpartum depression, all of which could have been eased by resting and truly relaxing more.
Ice cream and a TV show
When you feed a baby round the clock, it seems like you pretty much do nothing else. The time between feedings is a blur of hurried showers, choking down leftovers and realizing you fell asleep sitting. Not to mention pumping, which is boring and tiring at the same time.
You will need to add ice cream and a good show to your “exciting” daily routine.
Here are some of my faves to watch during newborn baby jail time: Parenthood
and The Good Wife.
Oh, and during the first few weeks, evening binge-watching while eating sweets counts as quality time with your hubby. (Unless you expected peaceful, candlelit dinners. In that case, you need to wait years.)
Thankful for 3
During such a busy and overwhelming time as your first week(s) with a newborn, it is easy to focus on all the negatives. There will be a lot.
But choosing to notice and ponder on the good stuff is just as easy, except you will need to be more intentional about it.
Use your time during nursing/pumping/feeding sessions to record at least 3 things you are thankful for that day. (I just use Notes on my phone) Scroll through your list from time to time and I promise it will encourage you to keep on mommying!
Know what to expect from your body
Make sure you read about what is expected emotionally and physically during the first week. Awareness is key when it comes to calming your new mama fears.
As long as you understand that what you are going through isn’t out of the ordinary, it will help you stay at peace.
I know you think you should bounce back in a day, rocking flat abs and runway ready hair, but is that realistic? Sure, you will see Insta mamas posting all kinds of envy-worthy pictures, but have you ever considered how often social media distorts reality?
So don`t go by what you see on Facebook or magazines. Talk to a few honest, transparent women and find out the truth.
I am willing to be one of them, so here goes: your belly will look like you are still at least 6 months pregnant; and don`t you dare stepping on the scale, because you may still weigh exactly as much as before pushing out that baby, due to all the fluids they pumped in you.
After delivery, your hormone levels drastically drop which causes all sorts of emotional craziness. In some women, myself included, it leads to postpartum depression and may need medical treatment. If the case isn`t too severe, you may be able to sail through it, but feeling like an emotional basket case after having a baby is far from abnormal.
Expect soreness, bleeding, stitches, cramping, sleep deprivation and aching boobs; They are all part of the package. It will get better, I promise!
Know what to expect from baby
As far as your little baby, she will likely have her days and nights messed up at first. Remember when you used to enjoy the little kicks as you laid down to sleep at night? Yeah, he is still doing that now that he is out.
Some babies also sleep a ton during the first few days due to all the work they have done being born and just from the stress of this new environment.
Some moms and babies have trouble with breastfeeding, though you would think it should be natural. Don`t be alarmed yet, just turn to a lactation nurse and ask for help.
Almost everybody can be successful, and I am saying that after going through 3 weeks of excruciating pain and not enough milk with my first baby. She nursed till 22 months. I consider that pretty darn successful.
You will get tons of info at the hospital too on what to expect and how to take care of your baby.
You can also watch this YouTube video to learn how to sponge bathe a baby till the umbilical cord falls off.
Or how to safely hold your infant when bathing him in a tub. (I was petrified of dropping my daughter or drowning her when I first had her. I laugh at myself now…you`ll get there too)
There are videos on swaddling too!
Babies do need a lot of holding, a lot of sleep and a ton of diaper changes, expect nothing less!
If you are desperate to know why your baby cries, check out this post!
If you feel like anything is out of the ordinary (such as hours of crying, terrible belly aches, etc), you can always go on a diet to improve your milk, change formulas or have the baby checked out by a doctor.
Much of your little cutie`s first week (year) will be guesswork: trying to figure out what she is telling you, what hurts, how to help, how to put to sleep and so on. You WILL figure it out and do it like a boss in no time. Hang in there!
Let me start by saying that sporadically eating goldfish and chugging diet coke isn’t going to cut it, no matter how exhausted you are.
If you are to survive these super demanding weeks, you will need to nourish your body well!
Ideally, you have a BFF (or another angelic human being) who sat up a meal calendar and arranged for home cooked food rolling in for ya for a few weeks.
If not, you still have options. You can always use Shipt or something similar to shop online and get your groceries delivered straight to your door.
Then you can plan simple meals, cooking once and eating twice. Check out this post on how to do it! No matter what solution you find, eat often and well, your milk supply and recovering body will thank you.
Listen to your intuition
Intuition is your new superpower. Most often, you WILL have an instinctual sense of what`s going well and what`s not.
Deep down, you will find what feels right for you and your baby, even if it is against popular advice.
For example, my second would not let me swaddle him and only wanted to sleep on his tummy. I let him and it was cool. (yes, I did own one of those Angel Care monitors) However, with the first and third I did not feel ok doing it, so they slept on their backs. Go figure. The only way I can explain this is intuition.
When you are worried and have a question, it is not embarrassing to call your pediatrician or lactation nurse. If they tell you everything seems ok but you are still not at peace, keep pressing. You know you and your baby best!
Maternal instinct is a God-given gift to mothers and babies, so use it!
I hope you find these tips useful in helping you know how to survive your first week with baby!
After you get the hang of it, come back and tell me what else would you add to my list!
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