You just had a baby—congratulations!
You almost certainly have a huge mix of emotions rolling around inside you right now. Excitement. Fear. Love. Worry.
As a mom and as a nurse to countless new moms over the years, I’d like to share some things that may help you in your first few weeks. There will be some surprises, but there will also be many things you can expect.
I’ve created a list of eight things—tips, ideas and concepts—that you should keep in mind as you enjoy your new role.
1. Enjoy skin-to-skin contact
This is great not just for mom, but also for dad. We know it helps regulate baby’s temperature and blood sugar after birth, and it also encourages better bonding. It’s better to leave baby in a diaper so you can enjoy plenty of skin-to-skin time.
2. Expect hormonal changes
There are lots of changes in this area now that baby has been evicted. Expect days of tearfulness and sadness, or even feelings of being overwhelmed. This will settle down, but it does take time. Also, remember you aren’t getting the same amount of sleep as you used to, which can have quite an impact.
3. Don’t be Superwoman
Get rid of the Superwoman goals! In our society, we have this unwritten expectation that mom should be able to have a baby, then almost immediately do everything she did before—plus be a great mom. That’s crazy! Those first few weeks, you should plan to do nothing but get to know your baby.
Let others help you. Know that it’s good to ask for help when you need it. Focus on this tiny bundle you’ve waited so long to hold.
4. Lower your expectations
What? That’s right. Don’t just lose the Superwoman goal, which demanded you take on more.
Take on less!
In a class I attended, someone had recommended taking a moment to think about all the things you do on a daily basis: showering, putting on makeup, personal hygiene, you name it.
Now look at that list and pick one thing that you can do without for now. (I’ll give you eating and sleeping as a given.)
What did you pick? Taking a shower? Brushing your teeth? Putting on makeup? Checking emails?
Now pick one that you need to do daily and then let your partner know. Have your partner do the same. Maybe you picked “take a shower.” It’s something you want to do that helps you make it a good day.
What does this mean?
When your husband comes home, if you haven’t had a chance to have a shower, he can take baby so you can accomplish your goal. You get to take a shower. If you picked “makeup,” then you get to take some time to put on makeup.
Am I saying that if you picked showering you won’t ever put on makeup again? No. I’m saying that you should choose one thing for the first few weeks. Then, when baby is about 1 month old, add two more things. Slowly add to your necessary list as the months pass. By the time baby is about 1 year old, you’ll be doing all your normal things again.
Why is this important? With all the work of a newborn—and hormones and more—I don’t want you to feel like a failure. You should set yourself up for success!
5. Get your rest
Notice I didn’t say sleep. Some moms can’t sleep when the baby sleeps, and that’s OK. But you should take time to relax and do something you enjoy.
6. Listen to your body
Your body lets you know, by the bleeding after delivery, if you’re doing too much. If your bleeding increases, that means you need to slow down.
7. Get some fresh air
Sometimes just getting outside in the fresh air can change your disposition. If you’re having a baby during warmer seasons, this is easier. Wear your baby in a wrap and go outside for a bit.
8. Hug and love your baby
This seems basic, but there’s nothing wrong with just sitting and holding your baby. You should find endless joy in looking at their little body, learning more about their personality and just bonding with them. They will never be this age again, so enjoy!