Bringing home a new baby from the hospital can feel overwhelming. You have all the right baby stuff, but now you need to figure out the actually-raising-a-baby thing. I feel like I was better prepared than most first-time moms as the oldest of 8 children. I wasn’t new to babies but I was new to this baby. Yet even still I remember when the midwives left thinking to myself, “They left me with this entire human being. Shouldn’t there be a test for this?” Settling into the new routine of parenthood can be a tough transition, I’ve been through it five times, so here are some of my favorite tips for that first week.
1. Protect Your Time With the Baby
Everyone will want to see the baby. Please do NOT think that you are responsible for entertaining company when guests come to see the baby. You aren’t. You are responsible for taking care of yourself and your baby and that’s it. My midwives gave me a birth announcement form for my front door that set the expectations right away to keep visits to the minimum and/or to be useful to the new family and lighten the load. You can download your own version here to help you protect your time as a new family.
2. Breastfeed if Possible
Breastfeeding can help with feelings of bonding and nurturing. When you breastfeed your body produces a hormone called oxytocin, which is a hormone that promotes a feeling of closeness and bonding. Breastfeeding has a lot of benefits for mom and baby, and that first week is the perfect time to establish a good relationship and begin to get into the groove of breastfeeding.
3. Have Food Prepared Ahead of Time
The last thing you will want to be worried about is preparing food. While friends and family may bring you meals for a week or so, one of the best things I ever did was to put a month’s worth of meals into the freezer. Whether you use a Once-A-Month Cooking plan, or one of my new favorites, Slow-Cooker Freezer Meals, putting a few extra meals in the freezer before the baby comes will save you. If you aren’t a great cook, ask for a friend to help! I felt overwhelmed so I asked a friend who was a good cook to help me as a baby shower gift and it was such a blessing.
4. Don’t be Afraid to Ask for Help. Or Rest.
Seriously. When someone says “Is there anything I can help with?” tell them yes. Let them wash the dishes or transfer the laundry loads. Or if you feel tired, you can say simply, “No I’m feeling a little tired right now. Thanks for asking but I think I’ll just take a nap.” Don’t feel bad. In some cultures they would bring you food for a month so don’t feel bad taking a nap when you need one.
5. Nap When Baby Naps
Every one who’s ever had a baby will tell you this. And if you’re like me you will roll your eyes. For the first two days at least. Don’t fight it, go with the flow. “But what about the….” Seriously if it won’t explode, catch fire, or die in the next two weeks ignore it. Or better yet let a friend who comes to visit the deal with it. If they ask to help you, let them. They’ll either stop asking or sweep the floor for you.
If you’re a TypeA stubborn person like me, you might find it hard to not be the one doing everything you think should be getting done. Push pause on that voice in your head and let your time as a new mother be about your baby for awhile. When you emerge as a new family unit, you will be a lot more rested and ready to face the world together.