Everything you need to know about surviving the first few weeks with your newborn
You made it!
The baby is here, the pregnancy journey, all those weeks of growing a human, it's behind you. (For now, anyway. You might want to keep on having babies once you realise how amazing this whole motherhood thing is).
Leaving the maternity hospital and heading home with your newborn for the first time can be daunting – we know. All those months of planning and reading baby books and googling and prepping – now the baby is here, and all you can think is: What now?!
Because now you are at home and in charge of keeping both yourself and this teeny, tiny infant alive and well, and in between the big, ploppy day-three-baby-blues tears and aching boobs you slowly start to fear you have no idea how to do it.
But; you got this. This first few weeks at home can seem overwhelming, for sure, but we have gathered up some seriously great tips on how to make it through – and before you know it, you will be looking back on these early days with a lump in your throat remembering just how much too quickly they went by.
7 things we wish we had known when arriving home from hospital with our brand new baby:
Making sure you are well-stocked and have everything you might need handy will save your sanity these first few weeks. One great tip is to prepare baby baskets with all the essentials you need for both feeds and nappy changes, and leave them in the areas you'll be spending the most time these first couple of weeks, usually the sofa and bedroom, as well as in the baby's room.
Stock this with everything from water bottles (for you, breastfeeding makes you thirsty), nipple cream, phone charger, nappies, wipes, the remote control (you don't want to have to get up when you have just latched baby on your boob), one-handed snack (energy bars are great), earphones (for those midnight feeding sessions, great for catching up with your favourite podcasts) and anything else you imagine you'll need nearby.
2. Don't try to be super-woman
Yes, there'll be laundry that needs doing and bed linens that need changing and dishes to wash – but you have just pushed a tiny human out of your hoo-ha. Now is the time to accept all the help you can get. The laundry and everything can wait until your partner is home from work or your mother drops in.
3. Create a cocoon
For nine long months your baby has been living in the tiny space that is your uterus. Now imagine how big and scary the outside world seems to him – no wonder he is crying. Make the transition a little easier on baby (and you) by literally cosying up in a DIY cocoon with your baby, be it in bed or that snuggly spot on your sofa. Wrap yourselves in blankets, don't get out of your pjs all day, just spend these precious days feeding on demand, sleeping when the baby sleeps and really just getting to know each other.
4. Forget everything you have heard about 'a routine'
Babies can't tell time. That's it. It's that simple. So stop stressing yourself out trying to force your poor infant into something that even resembles a routine right now.
5. Ask visitors to bring food
Get your mother-in-law to bring her famous pasta bake. Your bestie to bring you cookies. Tell your mum and dad to pick you up a juice and salad from your favourite lunch spot. And coffee. Now is not the time to get too purist and give up completely on caffeine, this is probably the time in your life when you need it the most. Make sure the house is always stocked with pods for the coffee machine – you'll thank yourself later. Breastfeeding and lack of sleep, especially when combined, can really take it out of you, and right now you need all the energy you can get.
6. Don't forget to shower
It can be easy to forget about yourself and seem rather impossible to manage to get away from the baby for long enough to actually shower, but trust us, this is important for so many reasons. For starters, you'll feel like a new woman after a lovely, warm shower – sometimes there is nothing nicer, I think we can all agree. Secondly; if you are breastfeeding, the warm water will soothe your aching breasts and give you a chance to give your boobs a little massage, helping keep mastitis and block milk ducts away.
7. Soak it up
Yes, this seems like a crazy thing to say, because these first few weeks can be hard – we know. There will be tears (yours and baby's). There will be tiredness. There will be hormones all over the place, and leaky boobs and the worst period-like bleeding and nights that just slowly turn into days, with no sleep separating one from the other.
But these are also, most likely, the rawest, most intimate and most tender days of your life. So don't forget to also just slow down and breathe. Soak it all up, the mess and the tears and the love. This is parenthood. Amateur hour after amateur hour, you have only just started, but you are already doing amazing. And you are about to embark on the greatest adventure of your life.