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Before giving birth to my daughter, Taylor, I thought I was equipped for our first weeks home together. My husband and I had her nursery furniture all arranged, I’d washed and put away the tiny clothing and accessories, stocked up on diapers/wipes/etc, and had the carseat installed.I thought I was ready to rock….
All of the aforementioned certainly helped me feel like less of a chaotic mess, but looking back now, boy was I in for a big awakening those first days/weeks! There truly is no way to prepare for the new skills you’ll need to instantaneously acquire once your baby arrives: soothing them when they cry, surviving on minimal (or no) sleep, breastfeeding/pumping/bottle-feeding, keeping up with your own health whilst giving 110% to your baby, etc.
In the hopes of helping other new mamas navigate those first few weeks with your new bundle of joy, I’d like to share five of my new mama survival tips:
1. Take care of yourself, please –
Get enough to eat and drink. Keep snacks and a water bottle (I highly suggest a big one with a straw like this one that I have two of) next to where you nurse since you’ll be there pretty much around the clock. I can’t stop eating these protein bars. Seriously addicting.
We actually utilized a meal delivery service for the first several months we had Taylor to supplement cooking, and were also blessed with parents and friends who brought us tons of fresh and frozen meals that lasted for weeks. Instacart is a grocery delivery service that can be lifesaving as well – I know I did NOT feel like going grocery shopping for quite some time, and they’ll shop for you and deliver to your door for a fee – perhaps not something you’d continue on with forever, but definitely helpful in the first weeks with a baby. If there is a Door Dash food delivery service in your local area, I would also recommend signing up for it -For a small delivery fee, you can have your favorite local restaurant’s food delivered right to your door. When I come home at the end of a particularly tough or long workday, the last thing I want to do is cook and clean up a meal. Those are the nights I hop on the Door Dash app (sometimes even on the way home at a stop light – eek), order a local favorite for my hubby and I, then get on to playing with my baby girl for the couple precious hours I have with her before she falls asleep! I’m so glad I found out about this service. Lastly, I know isn’t a “green” choice, but having a stack of paper plates (100 for only $13 HERE) for those first weeks saves you dish washing time. Any ways to make your life easier during those tough first weeks help!
Lastly, when you’re physically up for it, get outside for a walk . I can’t tell you how helpful it was to take daily walks, even if it was only around the block once or twice the first couple of weeks. You can progressively walk for longer stretches and you’ll be logging the miles [and shedding those preggo pounds] before you know it.
2. “Sleep when the baby sleeps” –
Everyone told me this, and I didn’t listen until I started feeling like I was losing my mind from exhaustion! Seriously, leave the laundry and TAKE A NAP. Don’t stay up to get in alone time, even though you’ll want that too. Those things can wait a couple weeks. Elicit help from your partner, friends and family so that you can get some sleep. Your sleep is SO critical to being that best mama you can be! Another suggestion is to pump so someone else can bottle feed in the middle of the night every once in a while – it’s amazing how great you feel when you get even a 4-5 hour stretch of sleep in those first weeks!
3. Make friends with dry shampoo –
Maybe I’m the only one, but I think I only took a shower including washing/conditioning my hair 3 times in the first few weeks. Slightly hobo status, but between using nap time for a shower or sleep, I chose SLEEP! This brand is my favorite for keeping your hair looking fresh(er) when you don’t have time for a shower. This is also a great, less pricey option that works well too.
4. Maintain good posture –
All the bending and slouching can really do a number on your back. I know you’ll be thinking of your baby’s needs before your own, but trust me – you need to be preventative with this so that you can continue to give your all to your babe. Invest in a good nursing pillow like the My Brest Friend (my fav which I talked about HERE) and be cognizant of bending at the knees to pick things up, tightening your core when you lift baby off the changing table or out of the crib, ot slouching, etc.
5. Soothing the baby tool kit –
This was probably the most difficult thing to figure out, and every baby is so different, but here are a few of the ways we were able to successfully soothe Taylor when she cried or need to go down for a nap/the night:
- Taking walks with her in the Ergobaby Carrier with the Infant Insert – maybe it was all the running/exercise I did whilst preggo, but the girl LOVES her some motion!
- Bouncing on a yoga ball – this in combination with patting her bottom if she was really upset was a sure fire way to soothe her and even get her to fall asleep. Similar to rocking, but for Taylor, much more effective. Plus, you can actually travel with a deflated yoga ball/manual pump if needed.
- Swaddling – I thought Taylor hated swaddling, so I let her be “free” for the first 5 weeks of her life. And guess what? Neither of us slept longer than 1.5 hours that entire time, UNTIL I tried out the swaddle again and low and behold she start sleeping 6-8 hours at a stretch at night and the 20-30 minute crap naps extended to 50-90 minutes! Give swaddling a try – I am lazy and uncoordinated so I use the cheater’s swaddle (Halo Sleepsack Swaddle) Taylor has two at home, and one at daycare, and I swear this is the single best thing for calming her down and readying her for sleep now [4 months old at the time I write this].
- “Shhhing/Patting” – this is the latest way we’ve been able to soothe Taylor and get her to fall asleep without the need for motion (rocking, bouncing, walking, etc). It’s really been a game changer. Read more about the method in the book, which is now my baby bible, The Baby Whisperer.
I’m still a total amateur mommy and every baby is different, but hopefully there is one little nugget you can use or share with another new mama! If you have any questions please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to help new mamas in anyway I can!
What other ways did you or are you surviving the first several weeks with a newborn?