The first week at home with a newborn can be a roller coaster emotionally, physically and mentally. Not to mention the total destruction of your normal living routines.
Here is our raw and uncut guide to surviving the first week at home with a newborn
Heaps of Sleep
Yes, be ready for it, your newborn baby is going to sleep for ages, even as many as 20 hours every single day, but usually won't be for many hours at a time, it will be in much shorter half hour - up to four hour naps. Everyone says, you should sleep when baby sleeps, and let me just say that this is very wise advice!
In the beginning you will need every minute of shut eye you can get. Even if you have a quick 15 minute power nap - every little bit helps! As soon as your baby is asleep, go lay down, forget about the house chores! You may find it helpful to have a family member over to watch the baby for a few hours while you catch up on sleep.
Check out our printable routine cards, these are great for creating a routine so your baby falls asleep effortlessly whenever you want.
Soothing your Baby
Newborns freshly out of the warm and cozy comforts of your womb, will crave cuddling and soothing constantly. You will feel like you are spoiling your baby but don't worry, its not possible. It’s a great time for bonding and cuddling in the first couple of weeks.
Newborns love the comfort of re-creating the feelings of being in the womb, this will make her feel safe and calm. To achieve this it is recommended to swaddle, sway, shush, hold your baby carefully on the side, and let her suck a dummy or your finger. This can help stop your baby from crying instantly. Do some experimenting to find out what your baby likes the most and stick with that.
Sometimes it can be hard to figure out why your baby is crying. It is simply a process of elimination. Try feeding, changing nappy, burping, and bouncing. In the first couple of weeks it is common for babies to get colic in the evenings which can make them tough to settle.
Its natural, right and just happens? If only it was that simple..
It is a really good idea to see your lactation expert as soon as you can after birth. If you can get it right before any problems arise you will thank yourself. Ask the lactation expert to come to you in your house, this will help you excel at nursing in an environment where you feel comfortable.
I thought my latch was great and that I had the hang of things from the very beginning, until it became more and more painful everyday. My baby was putting on plenty of weight so the midwife and lactation consultant wasn’t concerned, so they never bothered to check my technique. But it took a long time for my nipples to heal and for it not to hurt. Getting the latch right from the beginning will save you from so much unnecessary pain! I have heard so many good things from others who used a lactation consultant.
Feedings.... again? Yep!
Expect to have to feed your baby every 1 - 4 hours around the clock! Find a way to be comfortable while breastfeeding. You will be spending hours in a couch, rocking chair or bed and if you are uncomfortable it will not be fun, or could even be dangerous. Make sure you have cushions, a drink bottle within reach, snacks and your phone or a good book in hand! Don’t worry about feeding schedule in the beginning. Feed on demand to be sure your baby is getting all the milk he needs.
Get Daddy Involved
Sometimes it can be very difficult to find ways for dad to be involved at the start, Especially if he has to return to work immediately after birth. It is important to dads to help out and bond with their child.
Get Dad to dive into life with a bub. Remind him that you are new to this too and that you aren’t an expert with babies and that you need to figure it out together. Dads often seem to think the Moms know exactly what they are doing and that they will be judged on how they are with newborns. Dads are great for burping, bathing, diaper changes or settling them when they have tummy pains.
The First (scary) Bath
Many first time parents are terrified of bathing their newborns. Babies don’t need to have a bath until their umbilical cord falls off - a simple bath with a sponge is the best way to do it.
Relax and take it slow. Get the supplies ready before starting and make sure they are within easy arms reach -- this makes it much easier to keep your hand on your baby for the entire bath. Then lay her on a clean towel and start to gently clean the body parts that need a little cleaning with a soft and warm cloth. For this you can also use baby soap.
Our baby never really liked bath time in the beginning, until we trialed him having a bath with me. He LOVED it and have done so ever since. Make sure you have someone to help you to get in and out of the bath safely with your newborn.
The long recovery from Labor
Take it easy! Your body needs time to recover, don’t expect to bounce back to your usual self the next day. Especially if you had a C-section or any complications in your delivery. Sit back and put your legs up - allow others to do the cooking and housework.
You've got all the essentials ready for baby (swaddle blanket, plenty of diapers, etc), but how about what you need? Here is a short list of the things you might need:
(add anything else that you personally would like)
Water Bottle: Getting plenty of fluids is super important. You may not have the energy to constantly be going and getting a cup of water, so make it easy on yourself and keep a water bottle close by.
Extra Cushioning: Get comfy girl!Use doughnut pillows (these can be used to reduce that annoying, constant pressure from your tailbone), or just normal pillows to prop up your self as needed. I always found it helpful to put a pillow under my arm when breastfeeding to prop it up and prevent bad posture.
Lots of yummy snacks: Just as a mood booster! We can all use them for time to time... or use them at an energy boost when you are feeling a bit flat.
Pads: If you are a first time Mom then you are not prepared for the massive amount of blood you will loose after birth. It is just too hard to imagine what it is like. But you need lots... and lots of pads.
Sitz Bath - This is a must have for Moms post-labor. It is a mini bath that helps to relieve pain, reduce swelling and promote healing of the perineal area.
Witch Hazel - This is an astringent which helps to decrease the pain and swelling that occurs in the perineal area. It is used to treat hemorrhoids. You can add it to your sitz bath or put some on your pads. To get additional relief and benefit, soak your pads in witch hazel and put them in the fridge for a few hours prior to using them.
Peri Bottle - You can use these instead of a sitz bath. It is just a little squirting bottle that you can use to clean your perineal area.
Nipple Cream - I survived because of nipple cream. It is hugely beneficial if you suffer from cracked or sore nipples. And it is totally safe to use when breastfeeding.
Cabbage leaves - This is and old-school, yet effective treatment of engorged breasts. All you have to do is cool the cabbage in the fridge for a few hours and then place a single leave in your bra.
Keeping your sanity
After experiencing all the craziness of life with a newborn... you know... the sore breasts, feeling just exhausted all the time, the crazy hormonal changes... Even the most diligent and excited new parents can and most likely will feel super overwhelmed with the massive change that takes place in your life.
One really helpful tip is to prioritize the most important and useful things, like getting extra sleep when you get the chance, cuddling and bonding with your baby, learning about breastfeeding and other things to do with your new bub. Let everything else take a backseat for awhile... you're allowed. Don't feel bad if the housework gets forgotten a few times... remember, you're going to have many years ahead of you cleaning up after your kid!
Make time every day to just get ouside into the sun and fresh air. The fresh air and vitamin D is super important to your mental and physical health. Every day, even though I was tired and wanted to just lay down, I made it my goal to get out and go for a short walk down to the park
How to survive with two kids
If this is your second baby things are going to be extra difficult. Your going to have to look after two kids and mostly you will be trying to do it yourself and while you are super tired. Try to make time for yourself, but you also can't forget about your older child. She will still need and demand a lot of your attention. One tip I have is to involve her in looking after your newborn. Get her to bring things for you, she will love being able to assist you and she wont feel left out or like the baby is getting all your attention.