1. Know who you want to help you for the first week or two that you are home with baby.
It’s unrealistic to assume you can do it all on your own or that you have to! And if you don’t plan ahead, you could have every neighbor, cousin and coworker stopping by to gawk at your new little one. While it’s nice that people care, set limits because you and baby need rest and one-on-one time.
Be honest by letting others know how they can be most helpful (visiting at a certain time so you can nap or bringing a meal for your family). People genuinely do want to help you so relish in it!
2. Know that a new baby uses a lot of diapers, and not always “newborn” size.
You can never have too many diapers on hand! Most babies outgrow the newborn size very quickly so make sure you have size one available too. If getting out of the house proves difficult, don’t forget miraculous two-day shipping via the Internet!
3. Know that your breasts will probably become engorged when your milk comes in and you should have a breast pump available.
Don’t delay the purchase or rental of a breast pump because you don’t think you’ll need it until you introduce the bottle or return to work! Engorgement happens and it happens fast. Being ready with a breast pump, even an inexpensive manual one, will bring you much needed relief. While it is different with every baby, your milk typically comes in three or four days after delivery.
4. Know that it’s okay if your baby does not sleep in her crib or bassinet right away.
Those first couple of nights at home with your baby are likely to be challenging. Because it is so important that you get some sleep and that baby doesn’t get her nights and days mixed up, consider letting your baby sleep in her carrier, swing or bouncy chair. It’s unrealistic to think that baby will automatically sleep wonderfully in her bassinet (and if she does you will be surprised and overjoyed)!
5. Know that you will bleed for a while.
I had no idea this would happen. Seriously. I knew that there would, naturally, be a lot of blood during the delivery but I had no idea about the immense amount of menstrual-like bleeding that would take place afterwards. And having not had my period for the last nine months I had no women’s products on hand. Make sure you have plenty of pads to address this issue! This postpartum bleeding could last up to six weeks. If bleeding is excessively heavy, bright red (for more than 7 days after delivery), accompanied by a discharge that smells bad, a fever or chills, you need to contact your health care provider or go to the emergency room.
6. Know that babies like to be warm.
It was during my pregnancy that I was first introduced to the concept of swaddling a baby. Sounded kind of silly to me, but it totally made sense. Learning how to swaddle your baby could help your baby sleep for longer than 20 minute increments (which was super important to me). And because you should never cover an infant with a blanket, I recommend using bag sleepers (or sleep sacks) once your baby outgrows swaddling.
7. Know that batteries are every mother’s best friend.
If a new mom could choose one item to invest money in, I would highly recommend it be batteries. Everything from baby swings to freakish dancing Elmo dolls require these little power packs. Not much is worse than having a hysterical newborn who won’t stop crying unless she’s constantly in motion except having a hysterical newborn who won’t stop crying and then finding out that the batteries in her swing are dead [again]! Stock up on batteries– lots and lots of batteries.
8. Know that you need to take care of yourself.
Perhaps the best piece I advice I could offer for the postpartum period is that as a new mom you need to take care of yourself! I know, I know, you just had a baby you’ve got loads of wash to launder, dozens of diapers to change, lots of bottles to scrub and oh-so-much cuddling to do. And, don’t get me wrong, all of those things are important (especially the last one) but it is also very important that you take a few minutes to yourself. I always rolled my eyes when someone said I needed to be napping while my baby napped (especially after the delivery of my third) but it really is important. Most other things can wait. Your body just underwent huge stresses and it needs to recover. Taking time for yourself might look like napping but it could also be a nice, hot shower while hubby holds baby or a short walk down the block while grandma spoils baby. Whatever it is, it is necessary and you deserve it!
Special Thanks to My Guest Blogger
Jenny Schick is a blogger at DIYparenting, a blog that is dedicated to serving the stay-at-home parent of the past, present and future. They’re committed to offering encouragement, wit and wisdom through the journey of parenthood. Jenny lives with her husband and three children in Pennsylvania.