Those early days with a baby can really seem like a blur. Between the postpartum “stuff” and lack of sleep, many moms can begin feeling unwell or maybe even depressed. There are several things that you can do to help… here are my best tips for how to survive with a newborn.
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1. Prepare For After Baby
It is so much fun to buy baby things and prepare the nursery, that mom-to-be can often forget herself. Especially if this is your first rodeo. I’m not saying it’s going to be all rain and thunderstorms. But it won’t be all sunshine and rainbows, either.
Prepare for after baby. Prepare for postpartum. Prepare for YOU!
Here are the top things that you should prepare:
- Food and drinks (meals and snacks) – some people have voracious appetites and thirst after birth, and others may not. But a common pitfall for new moms is resorting to lots of junk food. This can affect our bodies in multiple ways that make the postpartum period more difficult. It can affect sleep, cause poop issues, and further rob us of energy. We might also put off eating because we’re just not sure what to eat.
- Self-care – figure out how you’re going to take a little time for yourself each day. Maybe you need dad or other support system to watch baby for 15-30 minutes in the evening so you can take a relaxing bath. Maybe you want to go for a 20 minute jog early in the morning to start your day. Here are several ways you can practice self-care as a busy mom.
- Becoming a stay at home mom – while it may be a dream to stay at home with your baby, there may be a few snafus. Here are my tips to help you enjoy being a stay at home mom.
- Working with a baby – maybe you need to secure care. Maybe you need to get a breast pump (this is the one I used and highly recommend). Think about what you’ll need and what things might help to make your life easier.
2. Don’t Have Unrealistic Expectations
Many times when we feel disappointment, it is because we already had an expectation. Life with a newborn is no different.
Drop the expectations to have an easy breastfeeding journey, a baby who sleeps like a baby, an easy pain-free postpartum period, a body that snaps back immediately, and a baby that thrives on a routine.
Instead, learn to go with the flow and appreciate every moment for what it is. Focus on loving yourself and your baby however you can.
3. Be Flexible
This is the best secret for how to survive with a newborn. It goes right along with dropping your unrealistic expectations. Don’t be rigid. BE FLEXIBLE.
Don’t feel like baby must sleep in his or her crib. Use a playpen, newborn sleeper, stroller, etc. as needed. Don’t feel bad that everything isn’t picture perfect.
Don’t expect that you are going to have the perfect “eat, play sleep” baby.
It is normal for babies to fall asleep while feeding. In fact, breast milk contains tryptophan, an amino acid that helps with melatonin production. Breastmilk fosters sleep.
4. Refuse Visitors If You Don’t Want Any
You are not required to allow people to visit you.
Let me repeat that.
YOU ARE NOT REQUIRED TO ALLOW PEOPLE TO VISIT YOU!
It’s your baby, and if you don’t feel comfortable with having visitors right now, that’s perfectly OK. You need to take care of yourself, including your mental and emotional well-being. If you are in the most positive state of mind possible, your time with your newborn will be more manageable.
You can let everyone know you won’t be taking any visitors in the first few weeks as your family adjusts to having a newborn. Let them know it is non-negotiable and you will let everyone know once you are ready to host guests.
5. Have A To-Do List Ready For Dad & Visitors, If Accepting Any
If you are OK with having visitors, then you should also be OK with having them help you.
Maybe you would like them to help with cleaning, cooking, holding the baby while you take a shower or take a nap, go grocery shopping for you, or who knows.
You might want to make a list of all the things you need done on a daily/weekly basis for dad and any visitors to easily be able to pick a task that would really help you out.
Don’t feel guilty one iota! This is probably the most important thing on this list of ways how to survive with a newborn! Be OK accepting help from others without guilt!
6. Remind Yourself That You Are Doing An Amazing Job As A New Mom
It can be easy to feel like you are failing at the mommy thing. Maybe you feel like you’re not doing enough or you just feel lost and don’t know if you are doing things the right way.
As long as your baby is safe, loved, and you are doing your best to keep him or her clean and fed, you are doing an awesome job.
Pssst… you’ll also want to check out this post about things to remember to do with your new baby!
There are many different parenting styles, and just because yours doesn’t match one that you might have heard of doesn’t mean that you are failing.
Even if you’re a “totally winging it” type of mom like myself, you’re still doing an amazing job!
When my son was born, I focused on keeping his diapers clean, providing lots of touch, and breastfeeding. I basically camped in my room and breastfed and slept. As a result I wasn’t very sleep deprived. I did need reminders to eat (thank goodness for my family!), but my baby was well-fed and thriving, despite not doing much.
Your newborn months may look different. Maybe you are a more structured mom. It’s all OK. Your baby will be OK!
7. Use Hypnosis For New Moms/Families
Hypnobabies offers powerful hypnosis tracks for new moms, dads and families.
Hypnosis can help with anxiety, depression, mom blues, fear and insecurities that new moms deal with. It can help you to have an easier time with your newborn by instilling confidence in your new skills as a parent, supporting your breastfeeding journey, and promoting comfort and calm.
The hypnobabies tracks can also help you with things like losing weight after having your baby and getting better sleep.
The best tracks for new moms are the After Your Baby Comes and Comfort & Calm for New Mother MP3s.
Hypnobabies sells the tracks individually and also sells them as sets!
8. Know What Normal Newborn Behavior Entails
You’ll be less stressed out if you’re not worrying about every little thing your newborn does.
For me, it was worth it to read up about normal newborn behavior, and what things might be a cause for concern.
Irregular breathing, looking at you cross-eyed, crying like an oinking pig, grunting noises, gurgling, being hungry all the time, variations in poop…these things are all normal. Here’s an article on newborn behavior that highlights some other common things that you might find interesting.
For all these strange behaviors, there are also plenty of cute ones to look forward to, too. You’ll be so happy when you see that first smile and hear that first ah-goo!
9. Stock Your Diaper Bag Well
Stocking your diaper bag well will go a long way to help you survive with a newborn. Babies do some weird things, like pooping right after you cleaned their poop.
When out and about, you don’t want to discover that you’re not prepared for anything and everything your baby might throw your way! They can really throw a wrench in your otherwise perfectly planned outing.
Make sure you have plenty of extra diapers, wipes, paper towels, clothes, change of clothes for you, food, etc.
It is nothing to be scared for, just something to be prepared for.
10. Have All Your Newborn Essentials Ahead Of Time
On the home front, you want to have everything you need before baby gets home.
Thankfully, you don’t need a million things.
You need somewhere safe for baby to sleep, including nap. You need diapers and wipes. Comfortable clothes for you, especially if you are nursing. I needed a stroller, it was an essential.
You might also want a comfortable baby carrier such as an Ergo, which can really make life easier for you. You can check out the Ergo and its reviews on Amazon, and see if it is a good fit for your lifestyle.
I really loved that I was able to do almost anything with my newborn thanks to the Ergo. I could cook, walk the dogs, do laundry, etc. without having to set him down to get those things accomplished. It helped reduce fussiness and in general he would sleep longer since he was practically attached.
Think about what things you need to get done even after baby and what you will need to ensure you can continue doing those things without them becoming stressful.
11. Take Off As Much Time As You Can
I sometimes see moms questioning if they should use all their time off for their newborn baby.
The answer is a resounding YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!
You want to spend as much time as you can with your newborn. If you end up needing time off down the road, sort that out then.
Both you and your baby deserve all the time you can get to bond and get used to your new normal.
Time together can also be a positive for helping support breastfeeding. It can help support your postpartum recovery–there’s lots of unexpected things that happen with our bodies after birth. It can help you to get better sleep during the newborn days.
Dad should take paternity leave if he can as well. The two of you may choose to stagger the time off so either mom or dad is caring for baby directly in those early weeks.
You wanted to know how to survive with a newborn, and these are my thoughts on the matter.
It’s important to note that even if it seems like the newborn months are lasting forever, they really fly by. The experts consider your baby a newborn until about 2 months of age. Those two months really fly by!
Following these tips will help you to not only survive with a newborn, but also to thrive!
Remember to follow your heart and take care of you. Don’t forget yourself while enjoying your new baby!